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Group Wants ICANN To Give More Study To Domain Proposal

A group of prominent Internet scholars and professionals are among 23 people who have petitioned ICANN hoping to get the Internet's governance board to slow its consideration of a United Nations report on how to resolve domain name and trademark conflicts on the Internet.

The group sent the petition to ICANN Monday, asking it to put off any decisions on the report from the U.N.'s World Intellectual Property Organization. Last week, ICANN said it may vote to adopt some of the WIPO recommendations at its meeting in Berlin later this month.

Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig, who gained fame as a result of his participation in the government's antitrust trial against Microsoft Corp., was among the petition's signatories. He says the 120-page WIPO report doesn't adequtely balance the rights of domain holders with those of trademark holders. But what really bothers Lessig and the others is the top-down process that ICANN is using to push the WIPO report into its by-laws.

"The idea that in Berlin they would make some decision is anathema to the bottom-up design of ICANN. It's overly reactive to the trademark problem and it's not yet had a process that's a balance between interests that are affected."

Also signing the petition were David Farber of the University of Pennsylvania, Milton Mueller of Syracuse University, and Kathy Kleiman of the Domain Name Rights Coalition.

The petition urges the ICANN board to withhold any decisions until its advisory body, the Domain Name Supporting Organization, is formed and can review the WIPO report.

But ICANN President Michael Roberts said the report has been public since it was in draft form months ago. And he criticized the petitioners for putting up what he called purely political opposition, rather than filing specific comments about the WIPO report.

"The report is done, and there's absolutely no reason at this point that delay would advance anyone's interest. I think it's very unconstructive and sort of juvenile to be so arrogant as to take the position that this work is not worthy of substantive comment."

ICANN is still soliciting comments on the WIPO report at its Web site. The open meeting to discuss the report and other issues is scheduled for May 26 in Berlin.



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