Online artists’ community deviantART is hoping to become responsible for the new .art web domains, and it recently sent a letter to ICANN (the organization responsible for managing top level domains) laying out its perspective on the stakes in the decision.
The letter also presents deviantART’s case for why it deserves a “community designation” in the application process, saying:
“We are on the cusp of an extraordinary opportunity with the simple use of a single word: a virtual place within the Internet for the arts and a virtual palace to the arts built site-by-site by millions of artists and art institutions each with an individualized artistic contribution gathered around the simple namespace of ‘.ART.’”
The letter adds that if the domain is exploited commercially, “it will only occasionally and haphazardly designate the arts themselves. It will not be a welcomed location for the arts.”
That may seem like an unusual argument coming from a for-profit business, but deviantART has created a new subsidiary called Dadotart (apparently that’s standard procedure when applying to manage a new top level domain), and it says it would create a policy board of “artists and art institutions” that would establish the standards for when the .art designation can be used.
deviantART says ICANN is currently deciding whether it deserves the community designation, which would give it priority in the application process. The initial signs may have not been entirely positive, as the letter states: “We believe preservation of the arts is at risk based upon the results of the initial community evaluations made by ICANN that clearly disfavor their approval with a resulting and evident bias towards commercialization.”
If you aren’t familiar with deviantART, the site showcases digital art, traditional art, photography — sometimes original and sometimes inspired by existing media properties — and it says it has 31 million registered users. (Software company Autodesk became an investor last year.)
e-flux, a network of art professionals, is also applying for a community designation, and although the applications can’t be combined, deviantART says the two groups support each other’s applications and would be involved in policy issues if either gets awarded the domain.
[Submitted to ICANN May 21, 2014 by deviantART on behalf of its applicant, Dadotart, Inc., for the .ART gTLD]
SAVE DOT ART
ICANN has a choice: it can promote the arts or destroy their common identity.
“.ART “ can become an authentic Internet address for the arts and represent its community. We are on the cusp of an extraordinary opportunity with the simple use of a single word: a virtual place within the Internet for the arts and a virtual palace to the arts built site-by-site by millions of artists and art institutions each with an individualized artistic contribution gathered around the simple namespace of “.ART.” The .ART gTLD can become a touchstone of world culture and contribute transformative vision across all boundaries.
But left to pure commercial exploitation, .ART will stand as a complete failure. It will only occasionally and haphazardly designate the arts themselves. It will not be a welcomed location for the arts. The impact of the worldwide abuse of a beloved term through disjointed, disorganized, and random designations – – completely irrelevant to its meaning and associations – – would be an irretrievable tragedy.
There are two applicants for .ART, which have elected community designation, DeviantArt and e-flux who mutually support each other’s applications. Eight other, purely commercial, entities and individuals have chosen to oppose or stand in the way of that joint effort.
We believe preservation of the arts is at risk based upon the results of the initial community evaluations made by ICANN that clearly disfavor their approval with a resulting and evident bias towards commercialization.
DeviantArt has over 31 million registered members and an audience exceeding 60 million unique visitors a month all drawn to the arts. It is one of the top 150 Internet sites in the world measured by traffic. E-flux is a network of over 100,000 art institutions and professional artists, curators, and practitioners.
DeviantArt and e-flux are committed. We stand prepared to convene a Policy Board of the most passionate and essential artists and art institutions to first debate and then establish standards for the use of the .ART address. As representatives of the community of the arts, we are prepared to initiate a gTLD for the arts, by the arts, and with the arts.
We call upon the ICANN Board to intervene on behalf of the arts. We ask the Board to recognize the .ART gTLD’s unique and substantial value as a world cultural monument and to dedicate its management to trusted, proven organizations that have introduced and guided the arts to the World Wide Web since its inception.
We call upon ICANN to set aside its unlimited and seemingly unrestrained commercialization of the Internet name space and embrace the opportunity that it hardcoded into its guidebook for applicants to self-identify as a community. ICANN must choose to promote the arts rather than destroy their common identity.
We call upon the Government Advisory Committee to the ICANN Board to safeguard the arts as a universal human right in its shared culture. We call upon the GAC to insist upon the recognition of valid community interests in the assignment of gTLDs by ICANN’s management in line with the GAC’s own requests to ICANN at the Singapore meetings held in March of this year.
And through DeviantART we call upon the world community of the arts to make itself known and rise to the defense of its own integrity and good name.