The RIAA Now Wants to Approve Your Website Registration

It’s your website.

You should know – you registered the domain with little or no strings attached. But what if that registration was subject to approvals and conditions, as determined by a clique of music industry organizations?    And what if you had to be a member of one of those organizations to even be considered for approval?  According to registration documents recently shared with Digital Music News, that’s exactly the idea being pursued by the RIAA, Recording Academy, ASCAP, SoundExchange and 38 other trade groups in their quest for the .music domain extension.

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That is, if they’re approved to play .music God.  The name of the group is Far Further, one of eight organizations battling to lord over this new domain name extension.  And in its application for .music citizenship, the group outlines a plan to make sure applicants are part of the exclusive club.

“Domain registrations may be accepted, but will not resolve until the registrant has been identified and validated as a member of the music community via their membership in at least one existing association related to the creation and support of music.”

But wait – it gets worse.  Because if you get approved, then have a falling out with your trade organization, you could easily lose your domain.  And what if you switch to a trade organization not on the approved list?

“Should the registrant fail to meet the eligibility criteria, they risk the suspension and ultimately deletion or loss of their domain name.  Verification of continued membership is required for renewal, to ensure ongoing eligibility.”

Which raises all sorts of potentially bad scenarios, all of which are largely uncommon in the .com space.  For example, what if a company gets kicked out of a group based on a legal disagreement – one that would normally be resolved by the courts?  In that scenario, the group risks losing its domain name, which could translate into the company then losing its business overnight.  It’s a massive risk.

The potential abuses quickly degenerate into a laundry list.  We vehemently disagree with the ruthless tactics employed by Grooveshark, and this is a company hated by the major labels.  Luckily, none of us have control over their domain name registration.  Which means, something like grooveshark.music would probably never get approved or simply get yanked – even if a court determines them to be legal.

And what about the next crop of superstars?  You can spot a Willow Smith a mile away, but the rest start on the fringes (and that goes for startups, too). They have no idea what an ASCAP is and frankly don’t care early on in their careers.  So, do those artists need to belong to an approved group to register their own name and collect fans, then hope to be discovered by the machine?

The question is whether this old boys club summarily puts .music into the loser category.  After all, edgier technologies, music publications, and emerging artists outside this group will simply skip the pomp-and-circumstance, and stick with .com or something else.

Which means this sort of ultra-exclusivity could mean death in incubation.  At this stage, it’s completely unclear whether the world moves beyond .com, .org, and a sprinkling of extra extensions like .fm and .tv.  Extensions like .info never took off, and this sort of behavior could create a similar fate for .music.

A list of the 42 participating organizations in Far Further can be found at farfurther.com.

25 Responses

  1. poor babies

    Poor pirates can’t become ASCAP/SESAC/BMI/SOUNDEXCHNAGE affiliates so they have their bloggers push some bullshit PR down the gullible musicians’ throats?

    Oh, poor poor babies.

    Perhaps we should start a fundraiser for Google executives. They must be starving.

    • Casey

      Why do people here keep hating Google? They react no differently than any other search engine when it comes to piracy. They obey and operate within the law. But the law does not tell them they have to play copyright cop. Why? Because it is impossible. No search engine has enough money to filter all their searches. As far as youtube goes, they handle copyright better than any other user-uploaded online video service. But again, it is impossible to police all of youtube and the law does not require them to do so. Google can’t stop the video downloaders. They can only fight them, which they are.

      Until the music industry can offer a viable way of fighting piracy on Google’s online services, the Google hating is pointless.

  2. you are already a member, no?

    If you are a musician and you are not a member of any PRO out there, you should read less tech blogs and spend more time with your lawyer and accountant…

    • Kingsfan

      It’s not just musicians!

      What about a great music start-up? They have to join SESAC or some group to get a dot music?

      What bout the next Justin Bieber? He’s got no music yet and sill needs Usher but he’s in the meantime gonna join A2IM?

      This was not well thought out.

      • KDC

        Totally agree! Registering your domain name should be one of the absolute first things on your list (at least on the business side) for a new artist. Registering for SoundExchange, a PRO, etc. shouldn’t be Step 1. Websites are virtually the only digital domain which artists have 100% control over (or at least independent artists), and the possibility of it being pulled out from under leaves it a lot harder for those who work with independent artists to advise our clients to seek out a .music extension—especially when honestly, I doubt a very high percentage of those outside the industry would even notice or care.

  3. .whocares

    who will give a crap about .music anyway? sounds cute and all, but we already have plenty of options

    • Casey

      I assume the dream is to have anything related to music use a .music TLD and then be able to say anything without a .music is an illegal site. Definitely a dream.

      • usclat

        More like a friggin nightmare than a dream. Dotmusic is a feeble attempt to “run” music and musicians like in the crappy old days. It isn’t going to happen. New music eco-systems are being created as I write this and some of them will catch on and yet another nail in the coffin of these music parasites like RIAA will have been hammered into place.

        Note to RIAA and there cronies: create you own work (music, art) and make your life on that NOT on everyone else’s!

    • enimra

      I agree. who cares about .music – just make sure to get a cool .com an you are set.

  4. WILL

    It’s probably likely to be at least a high figure number to obtain a .music domain. Others wil be in the 6 figures. This would immediatley close the playing field to only those with the big bucks invested which is really who they’re looking at.

    • paul

      The ICANN application fee alone is $185,000.

      You have 8 different groups paying that fee, including this one.

      /paul

  5. Arthur J. Owens

    There are many legitimate situations where one would have a music website & not need to register with a PRO. For starters, an artist or label website where all of the compositions are original. In such a situation, dealing with the PROs would only consume administrative resources & money. Any requirement that the website owner would need to maintain their association with such organizations only tends to favor entrenched interests.

    The flip side is that nobody has considered whether a 5 digit domain suffix will have the currency that the 3 digit suffixes generally do. Would you really want to invest in a domain that’s slightly more challenging for the average consumer to key in? It’s those extra small steps that companies put in a consumer’s path that tend to deter conversion.

  6. Me

    “I saw Satan laughing with delight the day the .music died”

    -Don McLean

  7. @pandaengineer

    This has to be one of the dumbest ideas ever!

  8. @samhowardspink

    I swear, these people have no shame at all.

  9. @mp3michael

    Well this insures the .music domain will be a ghost town

  10. @chrisgalvin

    The RIAA is still trying to use duct tape to plug holes in the dam.

  11. @fmomboisse

    la RIAA veut contrôler = restreindre la liberté de création des sites en” .music “!

    …..

    Censure ?…:-)

  12. mdti

    laughable …

    RIAA proposal is illegal over here.

    People who want can simply host their websites out of the reach of the US neo Talibans and Ayatollahs.