AFTRA Calls on ICANN to Abandon Top-Level Domain Program

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AFTRA Calls on ICANN to Abandon Top-Level Domain Program

AFTRA Joins ANA, IAB, DMA, AAF, 4A’s, WFA in Opposing Program and Refuting Purported Benefits

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 14, 2011) — The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO – a national union of more than 70,000 broadcast professionals, performers and recording artists – today sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson strongly opposing the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) top-level domain naming program, saying the plan will cause irreparable harm to brand owners, small business, and consumers.

The ICANN program, intended to begin in January 2012, will permit applicants to claim virtually any word, generic or branded, as an Internet top-level domain. Top-level domain names are the ones that appear to the right of the ‘dot’ in Internet addresses, e.g., “com” as in .com. To protect their intellectual property, businesses will need to purchase these Internet addresses at an extraordinarily high fee of $185,000 and then invest additional resources in surveillance and legal defense to ensure that cybersquatters cannot harm a brand's integrity or profit from bad-faith domain registrations. In addition, consumers will be at high risk, as phishing and other forms of online fraud proliferate.

In the letter (attached), AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth said, “We respectfully call on the Department of Commerce and, specifically the NTIA, to persuade ICANN to postpone the opening of the top-level domain application window unless or until such time as ICANN convincingly demonstrates that unlimited TLD name expansion would promote consumer trust, enhance Internet security, promote widespread economic benefits across diverse economic sectors and stakeholders and demonstrate that these benefits will exceed the costs that such gTLD expansion would inevitably impose on the global Internet community."

AFTRA’s strong criticism is part of a growing industry-wide concern regarding the ICANN program. In addition, The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), American Advertising Federation (AAF), Direct Marketing Association (DMA), American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), and World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) have joined the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) in vehemently opposing the ICANN program.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society.