The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the U.S. company that decides what new domains can be added to the Internet, revealed yesterday the full list of new domain address endings, which include–as alternatives to the usual .com suffix–.porn, .sex, .diy and .art. Several of these so-called generic top-level domains have received many applicants.
For example, .art, was applied for by the following companies:
-.ART REGISTRY INC.
-Aremi Group S.A.
-Top Level Domain Holdings Limited
-Baxter Tigers, LLC
-UK Creative Ideas Limited
-Merchant Law Group LLP
-Top Level Design, LLC
Only one company can own a top-level domain, and will have the right to operate and develop it over the course of 10 years. Applications for the use of the domain would go through this one company. If there is discontent with how the domain is being run at the end of 10 years, it is highly possible that ownership will not be renewed.
Before this program, countries controlled top-level domains and could specify who could use .tv (Tuvalu) or .ly (Libya) or .cat (Catalonia). Occasionally sites got pulled for running afoul of some sovereign sensibility (porn sites got pulled from .ly) but usually there were clear-cut guidelines and such denials or removals were rare.
ICANN’s new program has raised objections from certain large corporations that have signed a petition opposing it. According to that letter, which has been signed by 87 companies including Coca-Cola, American Apparel and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
The proposed ICANN program would permit applicants to claim virtually any word, generic or branded, as an Internet top-level domain. Top Level Domains are everything to the right of the dot, such as .com and .org. In the first year alone, the ICANN plan would allow hundreds of new Top Level Domains, and thousands in the future. This would strongly pressure brand owners at every level of business including small businesses, consumers, NGOs, charities and foundations to defensively buy and protect new top level domains.
Of the applicants for .art, several appear to be companies that were set up for the sole purpose of having control of the domain (Top Level Domain Holdings Limited), and several more seem to exist on the obscure periphery of the Internet (Dadotart, Inc. is the LLC of deviantART.com, a place where users upload original art work that consists of a conspicuous amount of anime gifs).
But e-flux is one of the most high-profile and widely respected art organizations currently operating online. Founded in 1999, it maintains a series of popular mailing lists that distribute promotional materials about various international projects, operates a gallery on the Lower East Side, has curated a number of traveling art exhibitions and publishes a journal of critical writing.
“It’s a way of making art on the Internet really comprehensible,” Anton Vidokle, an artist and co-founder of e-flux, said of the .art domain. “Search engines do privilege certain domains over others. Logically speaking, a much more specific domain will restructure how search engines prioritize and how the public searches.”
Mr. Vidokle said he hopes that over the course of a decade, art institutions, museums, curators, galleries and artists would all join the domain, creating an online community that “understands the needs of artists, curators and the public.” He also mentioned that the ICANN application alone costs $185,000.
“It’s worth much more than that,” Mr. Vidokle said. “It would be such an important undertaking to create a space for art on the Internet that has really high quality that just isn’t contaminated with silly commercial things.”