.FREE, .OPEN gTLDs may not be open to public

Who's trying for which FLOSS-related domains and what will they do with them?

The applications for new gTLD domains offered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have been made public, and although the .LINUX registry has been unclaimed, other potentially FLOSS-related gTLDs are being vied for in this big Internet land grab that could leave some domains out of public reach and in the hands of corporations.

ICANN released information for 1930 generic top-level domains this week, which were submitted before the May 30 deadline. The gTLDs (also known as "strings") will, if approved, be granted to each applicant (or the applicant ICANN selects in the case of multiple applications for the top-level domains) for them to use as they see fit.

Amazon, for example, has thrown its name in the hat for a whopping 76 gTLDs, channeled through its Luxembourg subsidiary Amazon EU S.à r.l. Since the new strings' registration fee is $186,000 each, that's a cool $14.1 million the Seattle-based merchant is willing to spend to grab these domains.

That fee, which enables the recipient of the new domain to hold it for 10 years, may be a big reason why the .LINUX domain name wasn't among this first round of applicants. It may have been more money than organizations like the Linux Foundation or companies like Red Hat and SUSE were willing to spend.

Plus, there's the actual worth of these strings to consider. Having a great domain name may seem like an awesome idea, but internet.com or pet.com didn't exactly help their owners after the dot-com bubble imploded in the early 2000s. And other secondary domain names, like .BIZ and .INFO, really never caught on, either.

But getting these names isn't just about having a marquee Internet address for marketing's sake; it's also about protecting your company brand. McDonald's, for example, would probably be less then thrilled if the .MCDONALDS gTLD were acquired and the new registrant decided to sell new domains like strangemonkeyhankypanky.mcdonalds.

Once an application is approved by ICANN, the new strings won't be publicly visible until 2013, and how the general public can use it depends on the goals of the applicant. The domains could be open, as in the case of .com, .net, and .org, so the general public could register a domain within such a string. Or they can be closed, either restricted to the registrant explicitly or wrapped with enough restrictions to keep it closed.

Though .LINUX is still up for grabs, there were still some FLOSS-related strings that showed up in the first round. Here's a quick gander at the gTLDs, their applicant(s), and how they will be used once finally awarded. All information was obtained from the public sections of the applications available on the ICANN site.

ANDROID

Applicant: Charleston Road Registry Inc. (a subsidiary of Google) Open status: To be open to select members of Android community. "The mission of this gTLD, .android, is to provide members of the Open Handset Alliance with a dedicated domain space in which to enact relevant second-level domains."

CLOUD

Applicant: Amazon EU S.à r.l. Open status: To be used by Amazon. "...Amazon and its subsidiaries will be the only eligible registrants…"

Applicant: ARUBA S.p.A. Open status: To be opened as a domain name business. "The Mission and Purpose of the .cloud TLD will primarily be to create a viable and sustainable domain name sales business that will be operated as a going concern by Aruba S.P.A."

Applicant: Charleston Road Registry Inc. Open status: To be used by Google. "…[O]perate the proposed gTLD with Google as the sole registrar and registrant."

Applicant: CloudNames AS Open status: To be opened as a domain name business. "The .cloud TLD will be available on a first-come⁄first-served after the initial Sunrise and Land rush…"

Applicant: Dash Cedar, LLC (aka Donuts, Inc.) Open status: To be opened as a domain name business. "We offer all of the customary services for proper operation of a gTLD registry using an approach designed to support the security and stability necessary to ensure continuous uptime and optimal registry functionality for registrants and Internet users alike."

Applicant: Symantec Corporation Open status: To initially be used by Symantec. "Symantec's proposed operating rules to limit registration to Symantec and its qualified subsidiaries and affiliates, at least for the first three years of operation…"

Applicant: Top Level Domain Holdings Limited Open status: To be opened as a domain name business. "The .CLOUD top-level domain will be marketed to registrants who want to associate themselves, their products, services, thoughts, ideas or anything else in a positive way with the cloud services industry, as well as to those who want to communicate with them in an easily identifiable way."

COMMUNITY

Applicant: Fox Orchard, LLC (aka Donuts, Inc.) Open status: To be opened as a domain name business. "Consistent with this we also believe in an open DNS, where second level domain names are available to all registrants who act responsibly."

DATA

Applicant: Dish DBS Corporation (parent company of DISH Network LLC) Open status: To be used by Dish. "…[T]his will be a restricted, exclusively-controlled where only Applicant and its affiliated, authorized entities will be able to seek and obtain registrations."

Applicant: Romeo Birch, LLC (aka Donuts, Inc.) Open status: To be opened as a domain name business. "Consistent with this we also believe in an open DNS, where second level domain names are available to all registrants who act responsibly."

Applicant: Top Level Domain Holdings Limited Open status: To be opened as a domain name business. "The .DATA gTLD will provide all those interested, world-wide, in disseminating or seeking information--whether non-commercial or commercial--concerning issues, news, culture, lifestyle, entertainment, sports or any other topic that associates them and⁄or their information with the data storage industry."

FREE

Applicant: Amazon EU S.à r.l. Open status: To be used by Amazon. "...Amazon and its subsidiaries will be the only eligible registrants…"

Applicant: Charleston Road Registry Inc. Open status: To be opened as a domain name business. "The specialization goal of the proposed gTLD is to create a new Internet environment that provides registrants with the opportunity to associate with the term 'free.'"

Applicant: Over Keep LLC (aka Donuts, Inc.) Open status: To be opened as a domain name business. "onsistent with this we also believe in an open DNS, where second level domain names are available to all registrants who act responsibly."

Applicant: Top Level Domain Holdings Limited Open status: To be opened as a domain name business. "The .FREE domain will help cater to companies, businesses and consumers, efficiently providing them with an identifiable medium to offer and take advantage of free products, content and services."

Applicant: Uniregistry, Corp. Open status: To be opened as a domain name business. ".FREE will serve Internet users as a clear, specialized, and semantically meaningful name for a wide variety of individuals and businesses."

JAVA

Applicant: Oracle Corporation Open status: To be used by Oracle. "Given that the Applicant intends to operate the .JAVA TLD as a single registrant⁄single user registry…"

OPEN

Applicant: American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. (subsidiary of American Express Company) Open status: To be used by American Express. "TRS intends to initially limit registration and use of domain names within the .OPEN gTLD to American Express and its applicable subsidiaries and affiliates."

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