Death Throes of the IEDR?
Date: Saturday September 13 2003, @07:01PM
Topic: Country-Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs)
Rossa writes "The IEDR has released details of its consultation period for the new .ie Dispute Resolution Policy (IEDRP), which was mostly limited to Intellectual Property lawyers and the organisation itself. Given the Naming and Registration policy, which remains among the most restrictive internationally, it is difficult to justify the implementation of a policy to begin with, and one wonders what the status of the Policy will be should the organisation be shut down in the near future."
"The development and implementation of the IEDRP has been complicated and opaque - ironic, given the state intention of the IEDR that the Policy itself would increase transparency. In early 2002 it became apparent that the IEDR had consulted the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in relation to developing a dispute resolution policy for .ie domain names similar to the UDRP. This was revealed, not by the IEDR itself, but by a page on the Irish country-code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) on the WIPO site. Later in the year, the IEDR's Inside.ie newsletter began to refer to the fact that the organisation was in consultation with the WIPO, but failed to outline any timetable for implementation or decisionmaking regarding a policy. Then, in May of this year, the IEDRP suddenly appeared, unannounced, on the IEDR site. At that time, an issue of Inside.ie hadn't been published since February; the IEDRP stated that it was effective as of 7th April. Indeed, it appears that the IEDR hadn't intended the Policy to be accessible at that time - links to it were from the WIPO site, and not from within the IEDR site.
Confusion as to what exactly was going on was clarified somewhat by a new issue of Inside.ie, which stated that "a customer discussion process" was about to begin in relation to the IEDR, which was being implemented "to resolve disputes over domain names in a fair and transparent manner." In July, the IEDR announced that the new Policy would become effective as of 31st July following a "familiarisation" period of 30 days to allow "the Internet community to become familiar with the detail of the IEDRP." The IEDR did not indicate, however, who they considered to be part of the "Internet community," so I wrote to find out. (In fact, I emailed to find out - three times - but to no avail or acknowledgment; then wrote at the end of July and was told they wouldn't be in a position to respond until the end of August due to "holiday absences".)
"[W]hat format the consultation procedure took, what respondents were involved, what the results of the consultation were, and if a report is available. I am particularly interested to know what issues were raised, and what, if any, amendments were made to the IEDRP after consultation. I also wish to know if any non-commercial entities were approached to express their opinions on the IEDRP."
The response detailed the process, but did not answer the questions directly. Interestingly, one of the first points made by the IEDR was that "there is ... a comprehensive, ongoing, public debate on features of the UDRP ... By choosing to model IEDRP on UDRP, IEDR could immediately benefit from a considerable knowledge base that has evolved from the global debate."
In short, the consultation involved lawyers, IP specialists, more lawyers, more IP specialists, and a consultant on telecommunications regulation. Whether or not this group was representative of the "Internet community" in the country is open to debate, though it is hard to accept that consulting this group equates to a "customer discussion process". The public were invited to email comments to email@example.com - I did, pointing out the concerns that have been raised in relation to the UDRP, and received no response. Despite this, the letter I received from the IEDR states that "No issues were raised during the Familiarisation Period and any feedback received to date has been extremely positive." (My emphasis)
Meanwhile, the Irish Times reported on 29th August 2003 that the IEDR has replaced its former auditor, BCW, with Duignan Carthy O'Neill, a Dublin accountancy firm following allegations made in the High Court last year by the IEDR Chairman (Professor Sean Scanlon) that inappropriate payments were made to BCW by Mike Fagan, the controversial former chief executive of the IEDR. More interestingly, a Freedom of Information Act release has shown that Tánaiste Mary Harney has expressed concern to Minister for Communications Dermot Ahern that the "difficulties surrounding the registry were damaging the Republic's image as a credible location for e-commerce. [Her] letter, sent in February, said that representations made to her Department suggested that parties may seek to have the registry wound up."
Hopefully, this is the course that will be taken. Delay, obfuscation and incompetence leading to a poor take-up in (overpriced) domains and a very poor return on the Irish ccTLD have been the hallmark of the organisation, which has been known to blame foot and mouth disease for low levels of domain name registration. A remaining question regarding the IEDRP will become more relevant should the organisation be wound up soon - how much did the WIPO charge?"
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