Could it be the end for the plan to launch 100,000 dot-jobs sites or more? Sure looks like it if you read the letter from the Internet governing body to the company that runs the dot-jobs top-level domain — but that company says no.

ICANN, the naming organization for Internet top-level domains, sent a very strongly worded letter to Employ Media this week saying the launch of dot-jobs sites and domains by Employ Media and DirectEmployers Association is in breach of the original agreement they entered into to launch the new top-level domain in conjunction with the Society of Human Resource Management…


Employ Media says it expects to be able to continue offering dot-jobs sites, calling the letter “surprising” and “a reversal of their prior decision.” In a post on, it said it expects to win an appeal.

And Direct Employers Association, which has been developing the dot-jobs sites, said it expects ICANN to reverse itself yet again.

“I would think we’re far away from dot-jobs going away,” Bill Warren, executive director of Direct Employers, told the AIM Group today.

Employ Media and DirectEmployers have been trying for more than a year to open up the dot-jobs domain to more than just listings posted by employers to their own, unique, company-exclusive sites — for example, or (Both of those URLs exist, but they resolve to different sites.) A  tremendous controversy developed about whether allowing the launch of non-specific sites, such as or, would be acceptable under the original dot-jobs charter granted by ICANN several years ago. Existing job boards said no; DirectEmployers and Employ Media said it was. And in August last year, it appeared that ICANN said it would be acceptable

However, ICANN this week notified Employ Media that it was in breach of its original authority to operate dot-jobs in conjunction with the Society of Human Resource Management.

ICANN gave Employ Media 30 days to eliminate the breach.

“Employ Media’s failure to operate and manage the dot-jobs [top-level domain] in a manner consistent with the spirit and intention of the dot-jobs registry and dot-jobs charter has substantially frustrated the primary purpose of the dot-jobs registry agreement,” ICANN general counsel and secretary John O. Jeffrey wrote in a letter to Employ Media in Cleveland.

“The registration policy shift clearly represents a basic and fundamental change to the qualifications for registration which differ from the original intent and purpose of the dot-jobs registry agreement and the charter,” the ICANN letter said. “There is not sufficient information to confirm that Employ Media or SHRM conducted a meaningful process for changing the registration criteria.”

It also said the registration process implemented to require membership in SHRM for registration of a dot-jobs domain was “specious [because] anyone willing to pay the $40 membership fee to SHRM … can register a second-level domain name within the dot-jobs TLD.”

The Dot-jobs Coalition, formed by existing recruitment sites, claimed a major victory. In a news release, the organization said it was pleased with the ICANN action, which specifically referred to, an overarching site for listings posted to the dot-jobs domain.

 “The Dot-jobs Universe” was not an innovation but rather an unprecedented attempt by a registry operator to misappropriate an entire TLD for itself and its alliance partner in blatant disregard of ICANN’s rules. Fair and honest competition is welcome in the online recruitment industry, but a TLD operator must be held to the commitments it makes to the Internet community, and upon which ICANN’s approval rests,” said Peter Weddle, executive director of the International Association of Employment websites.

“Employ Media and Direct Employers Association can no longer infringe the trademark rights of third parties by thoughtlessly launching numerous dot-jobs sites with names that are confusingly similar to those of long established enterprises, many of them small businesses.”

Warren, of Direct Employers, said his organization expected ICANN to ultimately rule in favor of Employ Media and the dot-jobs structure it established, but said Direct Employers would continue to operate either way.

“The ICANN board has ruled on this twice, the board twice and its governance committee has ruled on it once, and [this is] just a rehash of all the same old arguments. Employ Media … feels they’re legally in a very strong position.”

As for Direct Employers, which was managing the various non-corporate dot-job sites, Warren said, “I think we’re still as strong as we ever were [even if ICANN upholds its letter ruling]. We have over 600 member companies now, we’re adding 14 or 15 a month, and we continue doing what we’ve always done.”

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