.JOBS Universe Transcends Purpose Behind .Jobs, Says Internet Authority

Jul 27, 2011
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Employ Media “transcended the purposes behind the creation” of  the .jobs addressing system and “violated the promises it made to ICANN and the .JOBS Community.” For that reason the company should lose its appeal of a notice of breach of contract, and even its right to manage the issuance of .jobs addresses.

Thus concludes a just released 27-page argument by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN, as the Internet’s addressing authority is commonly known, filed the document and almost 300 pages of exhibits, in response to Employ Media’s  arbitration request, submitted early in May.

Manager of the .jobs domain, Employ Media’s arbitration request claims its issuance of thousands of Internet addresses to a single organization for use as job boards is consistent with the 2005 agreement that created the .jobs domain in the first place.

To sum it up simply, ICANN says the opposite.

It will be up to a three-judge arbitration panel from the International Chamber of Commerce / International Court of Arbitration.

The current legal dispute dates to February 27, when ICANN sent Employ Media a breach of contract notice over allowing DirectEmployers Association to use tens of thousands of .jobs addresses for job boards. After two months of negotiations, Employ Media invoked its right to go to arbitration over the issue.

In reality, the issue goes back to Oct. 2009 when DirectEmployers introduced the first few dozen job boards. They bore geographic or occupational names and carried a .jobs extension, as in or While Bill Warren, head of DirectEmployers, was promoting a .JOBS Universe, behind the scenes we now learn ICANN was telling Employ Media it had concerns about this use of the .jobs domain.

Why .Jobs Was Created

When the notion of a special Internet extension — a top-level domain — was first proposed in 2004 by Employ Media and its partner, the Society for Human Resource Management, the idea was to give employers a special location for their own jobs. A .jobs extension would make it  easy for employers to promote and easy for job seekers to find.

Some very specific conditions were imposed. Only company names could be used with the extension. The request had to be made by an HR professional who was a SHRM member or otherwise adhered to the SHRM code of ethics, and the address could only be used to advertise the employer’s own jobs.

Now, most of those conditions are in play, according to ICANN’s response to the arbitration request.

It claims that while the use of non-company names was approved last year, Employ Media exceeded its authority by allowing job boards to be created. ICANN also says Employ Media is all but ignoring the other requirements as well.

Its response lays out the history of the dispute, referencing conversations both private and public, dating back to November 2009. That’s when ICANN  became aware of the use of non-company names in .jobs addresses, “which was contrary to the naming convention mandated in the .JOBS Registry Agreement.”

On Nov. 24, 2009, ICANN officially informed Employ Media it was conducting a compliance review of those non-company-name addresses.

ICANN Lays Out Background

The history is extensive, and involves SHRM, sponsor of the .jobs domain, and the official policy overseer. After a series of meetings last year, a SHRM committee and eventually the SHRM board approved allowing Employ Media to register non-company names.

ICANN signed off on the change, and on Employ Media’s plan to distribute non-company names via a phased program, allowing for bulk distribution first.

This entire process was highly controversial, eventually leading to the creation of a .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition, made up of a number of organizations including the Newspaper Association of America and CareerBuilder and Monster. The group flooded ICANN with letters and comments opposing the expansion of the allowable names. Then, when the ICANN board approved it anyway, the group filed a reconsideration request.

That, too, was rejected, but with an explicit warning to Employ Media that it would be closely watched. The ICANN Board ordered the “President and CEO, and General Counsel and Secretary, to ensure that ICANN’s Contractual Compliance Department closely monitor Employ Media’s compliance with its Charter.”

.JOBS Universe Relaunches and ICANN Acts

Almost immediately the .JOBS Universe was relaunched. It had been on hiatus since being ordered offline by ICANN early in 2010.

“The .JOBS Universe can only be described,” ICANN says in its arbitration filing, “as a massive job board offering links to third-party employment opportunities in various states, cities and industries.”

When ICANN’s contractual compliance department asked about this launch, “Employ Media began taking the position – for the first time – that .JOBS registrants need not be “engaged in human resources management practices” to register and use .JOBS domain names.”

ICANN’s arbitration response goes on to say Employ Media argued that the requirement that the person requesting a .jobs address be “engaged in human resource management practices” could mean “anyone dealing ‘with the human element from outside an organization,'” including a recruitment ad agency.

It was then the notice of breach was sent to Employ Media.

ICANN details three specific bases for upholding its breach notice and allowing it to terminate its contract with Employ Media should it come to that:

Simply put, allowing the operation of job boards within .JOBS exceeds the scope of the Charter and is not permitted under the terms of the Registry Agreement.

Thus, by permitting job board operators to advertise employment opportunities outside their own companies, Employ Media has breached the spirit, intent and express terms of the .JOBS Registry Agreement and Charter.

Second, by espousing a view under which a .JOBS domain name can be issued based on a sole requirement that a human resource professional “request” the domain, Employ Media has failed to enforce meaningful “restrictions on registration within the TLD,” as required by the Registry Agreement…

Third, by allowing DirectEmployers to register scores of the most valuable domains through what appears to be a backroom deal, rather than through an open, fair and transparent allocation process, Employ Media has violated the terms of the Phased Allocation Program approved by the ICANN Board and made part of the Registry Agreement.”

Note: Complete background on the .jobs dispute and the creation of the .JOBS Universe is available here.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.