Monday, July 13, 2009

Under Pressure From Trademark Interests, ICANN Undoes GNSO Reforms

Milt Mueller writes on the IGP Blog:

A little-noticed outcome of the Sydney ICANN meeting (overshadowed by the excitement surrounding the selection of its new CEO) was a shockingly flagrant display of how arbitrary and unfair ICANN can be. A year ago a Board Governance Committee recommended, and the full Board adopted, a proposal to give civil society and commercial user interests the same number of votes (6) on the GNSO Council. The action was intended to correct what was widely perceived as an indefensibly unfair distribution of votes, in which trademark/ commercial interests were given nine votes and noncommercial interests only three. The rebalancing was first proposed in an independent, expert evaluation of the GNSO by the London School of Economics, and later endorsed by the Board. A July 2008 GNSO committee - which included representatives of the trademark and commercial users - also endorsed the idea of representational parity.

But when faced with the prospect of equal representation of commercial and noncommercial user interests, the commercial user groups revolted. Having lost the fight against parity on principle grounds, they shifted tactics and "went negative," claiming that the Noncommercial Users Constituency was not "representative enough" and did not warrant additional representation. The staff and Board were inundated with non-stop criticism of this sort for months. Numerous threats about withdrawing from the GNSO were made.

And yet, in Sydney the Board's Structural Improvements Committee turned a deaf ear to the vibrant new participation and caved in to the incessant pressure of the commercial interests. Two decisions, almost unbelievable in the degree to which they discriminate against civil society and completely ignore public comments, emerged from the Sydney meeting.

More here.


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