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ICANN Says .Jobs Operation Violates Rules

by
John Zappe
Feb 28, 2011, 1:35 pm ET

UPDATE:  Employ Media has posted a response to ICANN’s Notice of Breach saying “we find the claims contained in the Notice to be utterly without merit.” SHRM also issued a statement. This post has been updated to incorporate what Employ Media and SHRM have to say.

The Internet’s addressing authority has ordered the manager of the .Jobs domains to fix problems with how it issues addresses within 30 days or face the cancellation of its contract.

The Notice of Breach from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers includes a sharp rebuke of both registrar Employ Media and its partner SHRM, both of whom ICANN accused of establishing restrictions on the use of .Jobs address so “loose” they “appear to exclusively serve the financial interests of Employ Media and SHRM.”

ICANN also suggests that the .jobs Universe of job boards is contrary to both the rules and intent behind the creation of the .jobs domain in the first place.

“It appears that Employ Media and SHRM, through the Direct Employers Association, intend to use the .JOBS TLD primarily to compete with other internet job boards. Such use is inconsistent with the purpose stated in the .JOBS Charter and represented to the ICANN community,” the letter says.

The four-page letter to Employ Media says the changes made last year to the agreement creating the Jobs domain were “exploiting broad wording within the Charter to justify a fundamental change which inures benefit to SHRM and Employ Media, at the detriment of some participants of the human resources community…”

“Employ Media and SHRM failed to establish any meaningful restrictions on what types of people or entities may register second-level domain names within the .JOBS TLD. By not establishing any meaningful restrictions on who may register second-level registrations in the .JOBS TLD, Employ Media put in operation a TLD where anyone can register names, thus defeating the purpose for which the sponsored TLD came into existence.”

UPDATE: SHRM issued a brief statement saying only: “SHRM was as surprised as I am sure you were at the apparent reversal of ICANN’s prior decisions.  We need to get clarification from ICANN before making any further comment on this matter.”

Meanwhile, Employ Media says it views “the substance of this notice to be a surprising reversal of position and contradictory to prior decisions issued by (ICANN’s) Board of Directors.”

“Further, ” says the note posted on the company’s .Jobs information site, “we find the claims contained in the Notice to be utterly without merit.  We will continue to vigorously defend our position while we work with ICANN staff to resolve the matter at hand relying upon the language of our registry agreement. We plan to publish our formal response to ICANN at our web site located at www.goto.jobs in the near future.”

The balance of the statement deals with some of the history of Employ Media’s efforts to expand the use of .Jobs beyond its original mandate. Beginning in 2009, Employ Media moved to allow non-company names to be used in conjunction with the .Jobs extension. Beginning in October 2009, DirectEmployers Association launched a series of job boards with addresses such as Boston.jobs and nursing.jobs.

Under the agreement with ICANN, such uses were not allowed. When ICANN questioned the new addresses, the sites — tens of thousands were planned — were taken offline while Employ Media sought to modify its terms. This required it to appeal to its partner, Society for Human Resource Management, which approved the expansion in June. Later, over the objections of a coalition of job boards, associations, and others, the ICANN board voted to allow it, endorsing Employ Media’s plan for distributing the additional addresses.

The .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition sought reconsideration of the Board’s action. But that, too, was rejected. However, the reconsideration committee said the ICANN staff should “closely monitor” the way the new .jobs addresses are issued. The committee wrote, “Given the highly disparate views presented by the parties involved with the Request (for reconsideration), the BGC is not at all clear that it has a full picture of how Employ Media intends to implement the Phased Allocation Process.”

Detailed background on the controversial changes and the launch of some 40,000 job boards with .jobs addresses is available here.

The .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition, which opposed last year’s changes to the .jobs agreement, applauded the ICANN action and says it vindicates the coalition’s argument that the .Jobs Universe of job boards is not a permitted use of the .jobs domains.

Coalition chairman John Bell said, “We are confident that ICANN will follow through on this demonstration of its commitment to enforce its rules and take all necessary and appropriate actions to terminate the non-compliant Dot Jobs Universe as soon as possible.”

Emails have been sent to Bill Warren, executive director of DirectEmployers Association, Gary Rubin, SHRM’s .jobs leader, and to Employ Media asking for comment. No responses yet from SHRM or DirectEmployers.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Simon Evans

    This is a specious attempt by Monster.com to scare ICANN into submission at the expense of employers who finally would have a creditable free alternative in partnership with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. These people are all about protecting their profit motive and not providing opportunities for real employers to reach real job seekers.

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  3. Jonathan Duarte

    Congratulations to John Bell and the entire .Jobs Charter Compliance Coalition.
    This is a major win for employers and the Internet recruiting industry, and a big slap in the face for SHRM.

    SHRM never should have allowed this to get this far. Instead of standing up for the industry, SHRM choose to abdicate it’s responsibilities.

    Thank you to all the members of the .Jobs coalition for making it clear that NO individual company should be able to achieve a monopoly on domain names, or any individual of the Internet recruiting industry.

    Here is a partial list of all the .Jobs Charter Compliance Coalition… Thank you to each of you.

    The .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition was chaired by John Bell, the Founder and CEO of Boxwood Technology. Its members include AHA Solutions (American Hospital Association); the American Society of Association Executives; the American Society of Civil Engineers; the American Staffing Association; Boxwood Technology, Inc.; CareerBuilder, LLC; the International Association of Employment Web Sites; twenty-three individual members of the International Association of Employment Web Sites, including CollegeRecruiter.com, Dice, HigherEdJobs, Indeed, JobG8, Jobing, VetJobs, and WorkinSports.com; Monster Worldwide, Inc.; the Newspaper Association of America; and Shaker Recruitment Advertising & Communications.

  4. Simon Evans

    This is NOT a major victory for employers, and I speak as an employer. This is an attempt by the so-called coalition aka the for profit job board industry to maintain their monopoly.

    Dot.jobs gives an avenue for companies, large and small to place their jobs into the public domain for free without being gouged by the for profit boards. As a result the 9% plus unemployed gain access to more real jobs as do those employed and seeking a change – i.e. good news for America and our economy. That is why SHRM support the initiative and also why the National Association of State Workforce Agencies does as well.

    This seems awfully like the desparate attempt of a dying industry model to hold on…hmmm bit like the print crowd when Monster came along…what goes around, I guess.

  5. Eric Caron

    I hope ICANN also recognizes that this shines a light on their haphazard amendment approval process. Many people, including myself, were quite vocal about this very likely outcome back in July of last year (e.g. see the 3rd point on http://forum.icann.org/lists/jobs-phased-allocation/msg00241.html)

    In the end, this is a big victory for jobseekers, and hopefully we’ll see a rebirth of the original .jobs concept. I also echo Jonathan’s feelings and offer a huge “THANK YOU” to the .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition for their great work.

  6. Steven Rothberg

    Employ Media responded to the letter, probably after John wrote this article. You can see their, “we’re bummed but we’re going to fight this ruling”response at http://CollegeRecruiter.com/profiles/blogs/breaking-news-icann-rules .

  7. Bill Gallop

    Hallelujah… someone has finally seen the light!

    This has ALWAYS been about creating new business for Employ Media / SHRM and NOT about helping job seekers or companies.

    Terminate the .Jobs experiment completely!

  8. Jeff DickeyChasins

    At the risk of stating the obvious, this will either be over in 30 days…or it’s the start of a long legal battle. I agree with Eric – it would be nice to see the original .jobs concept re-instituted.

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  10. Stephen Collins

    Dot Jobs is the start of the yellow pages to exhort money for a confusing listing. It should be eliminated as there are more than enough Dots today.
    Everyone I know is so glad that the yellow pages are no longer needed to find what you want. I recall lobbying for a yellow page class for “Outdoor Power Equipment” but Ma Bell would not do it because they made more revenue with separate listings for lawn mowers, snow blowers, chain saws and more.
    Throw out the Dot Jobs experiment and let people be creative and let these great search engines do their job.

  11. Steven Rothberg

    Anyone claiming that Monster or a group of for-profit job boards comprise the Coalition which defeated the plans by Employ Media, SHRM, and Direct Employers to circumvent the legal contract they entered into with ICANN is either misinformed or attempting to mislead.

    The .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition was formed in May 2010 to address concerns that Employ Media LLC’s planned Phased Allocation Program would violate the terms of the .JOBS Charter. The members of the Coalition include:

    1. AHA Solutions (American Hospital Association);

    2. American Society of Association Executives;

    3. American Society of Civil Engineers;

    4. American Staffing Association;

    5. Boxwood Technology, Inc.;

    6. International Association of Employment Web Sites;

    7. Twenty-three individual members of the International Association of Employment Web Sites, including Careerbuilder, CollegeRecruiter.com, Monster, Dice, HigherEdJobs, Indeed, JobG8, Jobing, VetJobs, and WorkinSports.com;

    8. Newspaper Association of America; and

    9. Shaker Recruitment Advertising & Communications.

  12. Simon Evans

    So Stephen, per you own comment 23 for-profit job boards merit one bullet but a few associations who themselves have for fee job boards get spelled out individually.

    Not trying to create an impression not consistent with the reality are we?

    Just asking :)

  13. Steven Rothberg

    If you’re going to accuse me of misleading readers, Simon, then perhaps you should let the readers know that your organization, SRA, was one of the primary backers of the Universe.jobs attempt and that SRA and the vast majority of the hundreds of other member organizations of Direct Employers Association are also for-profit organizations.

    Quite frankly, I don’t think that such a discussion is helpful. ICANN delivered quite a rebuke to SHRM, Direct Employers Association, and Employ Media in yesterday’s letter. No one who has been actively involved in this process could accuse ICANN of being in bed or unduly influenced by one or more of the job boards. If that was the case, they would have slapped down the attempted expansion months ago.

  14. Jonathan Duarte

    I think it should be noted that Simon Evans does not “just speak as an employer”, as he pretends to in his comment. In fact he sits on the Board of Directors of DirectEmployers, the defendants in the case…

    Simon, Thanks for your honesty and transparency! I’m sure this is the same level of honesty and transparency that SHRM, EmployMedia, and DirectEmployers tried to use on ICANN.

  15. Simon Evans

    Jonathan and Stephen
    My employer is one of the 600 companies who are members of Direct Employers and I am proud to have been elected to their board by the member organizations. Nothing to hide there, hmmm I do notice however that Stephen does not disclose that he is one of the 23 individuals crammed into bullet #7 of his “coalition” list.

    Jonathan, we have differing opinions on this issue and I am happy to discuss the matter without name calling or casting aspersions on your integrity, after all I do not know who you are or much about you. Stephen and I have chatted a couple of times when he made sales calls; although I am sure he may not remember as he no doubt calls many companies.

    I wish you the best personally and we will see where the pieces fall with respect to the legal challenges to this ruling.

    But I would ask you why would the fact that universe.jobs gives job-seekers access to thousands of employers many of whom cannot afford to post jobs in the big boards be such a bad thing? Unless of course you have to compete against it?

  16. Steven Rothberg

    Actually, Simon, my organization — CollegeRecruiter.com — is listed in John Zappe’s article to which we’re commenting and I listed it again in my comment about how job boards comprise some but not most of the organizations in the Coalition.

    To answer your question about why I was personally opposed to universe.jobs, there were a number of reasons but a couple of them were:

    1. It was promoted as providing job seekers with a place where they could go to find only jobs posted by legitimate employers. Not true. LinkUp and a number of other boards scrape corporate employer sites (not job boards or third party recruiters) so job seekers could and do use those sites. I was actually pretty shocked when I talked with a couple of your fellow Direct Employers Association board members about that and they seemed completely unaware that universe.jobs was far from the first such job board. If the primary goal of Direct Employers, Employ Media, and SHRM were really to just create a job board with only “legitimate” jobs, cool. But did they need to create an entirely new top level domain for that and an almost completely opaque process by which those domains would be granted as compared to the completely transparent way that .com, .net, .org and the existing top level domains are granted?

    2. My bigger concern by far was the process and not the goal. Rather than re-stating how the process stunk, I think that the scathing letter from the general counsel of ICANN speaks very well to that point.

  17. Steven Rothberg

    The Coalition of Domain Name Abuse (CADNA), a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the systemic domain name abuses that plague the Internet today, just released a statement in which it applauded ICANN’s decision. See http://CollegeRecruiter.com/profiles/blogs/coalition-against-domain-name .

  18. Jonathan Duarte

    The .Jobs domain naming scheme was created to give employers a way to create domains specifically for their company job listings. That is what it was chartered for.

    It failed, except for a few individual large companies… the same ones who CAN afford to post jobs on job boards.

    So the question really is, “What happens next?” There are a handful of companies like att.jobs that have effectively used the .jobs domain name. Shutting down the domain doesn’t really seem fair to those companies.

    My opinion is this…
    Shut down any registrations for the .jobs domain names that didn’t adhere to the original charter agreement and initial implementation, which also mandated that individual companies apply for the domain names, proving that they were the owners of their respective trademarks, etc.

    Then, allow only allow individual companies to renew, based on the original intent of the charter.

    If they choose not to renew, the tld goes away for good.

    There are numerous free and very low-cost jobs boards that are extremely effective. Indeed and SimplyHired have low cost and highly effective alternatives.

    At no time should one entity, for profit, or not-for-profit, have exclusive access to thousands of domain names.

    My final comment on this post is this.
    .Jobs domain names are essentially worthless when it comes to search engine optimization anyways. Google doesn’t recognize the .jobs domains as credible.

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