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Status: Delegated
Manager: Dot Hip Hop, LLC
Registry Provider: Tucows
Type: Generic
Category: Culture

More information: NTLDStatsLogo.png

.hiphop is a gTLD proposed in ICANN's New gTLD Program and currently run by Dot Hip Hop, LLC, led by Monte Cahn, Jeff Neuman, and Scott Pruitt.[1] The 2012 applicant was Registry Operator Uniregistry (UNR).[2] Their application succeeded and was delegated to the Root Zone on 15 May 2014.[3]


UNR Application Details

The following is excerpted from the applicant's response to question #18:

"Hip hop is a uniquely American art form, crossing music, art, performance and culture. Since its advent in New York in the late 1970s, hip hop has become a global phenomenon.

.HIPHOP will serve Internet users as a clear, specialized, and semantically meaningful name for a wide variety of individuals and businesses. Whether used for lifestyle or music, .HIPHOP will convey a strong sense of a web publisherʹs values and content.

New top-level domains represent the future of naming for Internet-based resources. For a significant number of registrants and users, .HIPHOP is the most meaningful and accurate description of the content of the works or services a registrant might provide, or a user might seek, online.

DNS-based addressing brings with it unique advantages for branding Internet-based resources with semantic meaning and easily communicable and remembered labels. Domain Names are mnemonic devices, designed to help users remember and invoke the ʺlocationʺ of websites, email servers, and the like (as opposed to having to remember IP addresses). The addition of many new, semantically meaningful, TLDs will enhance this mnemonic function, helping users to discover pertinent resources, differentiate among stored links, and remember how to reach sites they have visited before.

Top-level domains with specific semantic meaning, like .HIPHOP, will thrive when operated by a neutral registry-services provider like Uniregistry. A neutral registry does not provide preferential registration opportunities to any particular market participant, create anti-competitive rules that prevent domain name registration by competitors, or become so deeply involved in the target market that its presence as the registry services provider creates the appearance of impropriety or bias. Uniregistry always will act as a neutral services provider for .HIPHOP.

A specialized top-level domain string, like .HIPHOP, immediately conveys the purpose for which the user is seeking to access a site. Registrants who might get lost in a larger, undifferentiated TLD, and who seek to convey the specific purpose of the site or services, or who are unable to find a satisfactory SLD within existing TLDs, will find it easier to reach potential users.

.HIPHOP will be a specialty gTLD, with a flat pricing structure and fixed renewal costs, with no material price increases for the first five years. This moderately priced namespace is designed to offer registrants an attractive, competitive registration alternative or complement to existing registrations for the purpose of specialized content.

The registry will strive to bring value to both the users seeking to publish information and content related to hip hop culture and music and the registrants who are offering that information by providing directory services, traffic-generation toolkits, and search-related functionality from central registry-operated resources designed to promote the .HIPHOP top-level domain and the companies, organizations, and individuals choosing to register .HIPHOP names.

The registry will implement safeguards to intellectual property interests, while fostering socially and commercially productive growth of its name-space for registrants, stakeholders, and Internet users.

Contract Signed

On 6 March 2014 Uniregistry received a Registry Agreement signed by ICANN for .hiphop after passing all the required processes needed to become a Registry Operator for the string.[4]

Delegation and Availability

.hiphop was delegated to the Root Zone of the DNS on 15 May, 2014, completing the successful application for the string.[3]

2021 Assignment Controversy

Uniregistry announced its intention to auction its new gTLD portfolio in January 2021[5] UNR subsequently announced that it intended to also transfer Ethereum Name Service (ENS) non-fungible tokens (NFTs) associated with each gTLD to the successful bidders for each TLD.[6] The object of creating ENS tokens was to create ENS "domains" for cryptocurrency transactions and human-readable wallet IDs:

The auction winners of these rare Internet assets not only collect subscription revenue by selling their domain names through ICANN-accredited registrars but could also sell domains on ENS directly to Ethereum owners. "UNR is opening the scarce asset class of Top Level Domains to the public, which brings existing cash flow and numerous new monetization models to future owners, including control of the NFTs on the blockchain," said Shayan Rostam, Chief Growth Officer of UNR. "We are on the cutting edge; it's unlikely that these assets will ever take part in the event of this magnitude again."[6]

"Web3" and cryptocurrency adherents saw the auction as "another interesting use case for NFTs that...show just one way that people are continuing to expand their use cases."[7] However, the bundling of the NFTs with the TLDs created concerns at ICANN. In the wake of the auction, as assignment requests were submitted to ICANN by either UNR or the winning bidders, ICANN org submitted questions to UNR regarding the interrelationship between the ENS NFTs and the TLDs. ICANN's investigation of these issues is ongoing as of December 2021.[8] Industry news outlets noted that the bundling of the NFTs may have caused incurable problems for all of the assignment requests.[9]

Despite the .hiphop domain originally being advertised as part of UNR's April auction, Dot Hip Hop LLC (DHH) separately negotiated the purchase of the TLD in an arms-length transaction.[10] UNR submitted the assignment request for .hiphop to ICANN in August 2021.[10] The assignment was delayed for the same reasons as the other, auctioned TLDs.[10]

In December, DHH submitted an urgent reconsideration request regarding ICANN's inaction on the assignment request for the .hiphop TLD.[11] In its request, DHH noted that it had spent considerable time explaining, and re-explaining, its position on the NFT associated with .hiphop, which was transferred as part of DHH's purchase agreement with UNR.[10] The Board Accountability Mechanisms Committee denied the request for urgent action, because only Board inaction could be subject to such a request.[12] ICANN posted a blog in January 2022 regarding the .hiphop situation and the Uniregistry assignments more broadly.[13]

On January 13, DHH withdrew its reconsideration request, due in part to the additional delay that would be incurred if ICANN suspended consideration of the assignment request to evaluate the merits of the reconsideration request on the normal timeline for such proceedings.[14] The letter withdrawing the request again attempted to correct the record regarding DHH's expectation of "ownership" of the TLD and other concerns raised in ICANN's blog post.[14]

DHH takes over .HipHop

Monte Cahn, Jeff Neuman, and Scott Pruitt and with Digital Asset Monetary Network, Inc. (DigitalAMN) reintroduced .HipHop with lower wholesale pricing and an end-user-focused marketing strategy in May 2022 after purchasing the rights from Uniregistry to become the registry operator in June 2021 and receiving formal approval from ICANN in March 2022.[15]