Are WEB3 Domains Valuable? Starting from OpenSea delisting .nft
Recently, Twitterscan has defied the pressure to open its.nFT registration and minting. Twitterscan was previously met with a backlash from some community members after it sparked a wave of infringement when its suffix was the same as those sold by another NFT domain provider backed by Coinbase, Unstoppable Domains, and launched later than the latter.
As the infringer, Unstoppable Domains also sought the help of centralized means to complain to OpenSea about the infringement, which led to OpenSea taking down Twitterscan Pass NFT. Next, the originator of TwitterScan, responded that TwitterScan registered the .nft.link domain on January 17, 2020, before Unstoppable Domains launched its product, and that the organisation that applied to ICANN for the .NFT international top-level domain from its inception is fully committed to competing for the . NFT domain name. A quick check shows that Twitterscan Pass NFT is still available on LooksRare and X2Y2.
Infringement, involving originality and plagiarism. The interpretive definition of originality contains two layers: firstly, the timing of the introduction, which is sequential, and secondly, the inviolability of private goods.
Web3 domains are not quite the same as our everyday internet top-level domains like .com, .cn, etc. A web3 domain is actually a hash interpreter running inside a blockchain browser. The .XXX “suffix” (domain extension) can be issued by any project owner or user on their own. Similar to issuing Token, everyone can go fork the code and make a fork of the same name out of ETH themselves.
The key to acceptance is consensus and community acceptance. In the case of the .eth resolving system, the Etherscan browser, the community, the Etherscan Foundation, etc. have all given a lot of recognition to the ENS interpreter, so it is unlikely that a fork .eth domain name would be successful at this point. In other words, ENS has already taken over the minds of its users and when you say .eth, you naturally think of ENS’s .eth. It would be pointless to launch another .eth domain name at this point, as ENS has already been the default in the minds of users.
The same is true of .bnb. Before space id, there were domain names with the .bnb suffix, but they were too rustic to be recognised by the BSC community and Binance, until space id came along that was chosen by BSC officials and community users. It naturally became the proper, original .bnb. So, if the originality is determined by the order of launch, it doesn’t make much sense on a Web3 domain, it’s the community’s acceptance that matters more than the order of launch.
In addition, from the perspective of the concept of public and private goods in economics, some similar concepts such as “nft” were created, and the term is more likely to belong to the public lexicon, which is generic and does not belong directly to anyone, at least not in terms of attribution or copyright in the use of generic terms, and can be used by everyone. The public term can be used by everyone, and they can use the public term as a domain name resolution system. As for the recognition, it is not up to the creator or the project, but to the community, to the browsers and dapps on the chain.
At the moment, apart from a few domains such as .eth and .bnb that have developed scale, there is no strong consensus on .nft or even some other suffix domains, and the occupation of the different home interpreters of the .nft suffix domain in the minds of users is believed to continue for some time. In the end, whoever is recognised by the community will naturally become the orthodox.
But when it comes to fighting over the process, no one cares about the slogan of decentralisation when their core interests are touched, nor is it something that a scattered community can engage with, requiring a more professional legal team. For most of the organisations in Crypto, the entity behind them is often a company rather than a community-run DAO, as is the case with OpenSea, Unstoppable Domains and Twitterscan.
As the most popular Crypto product, NFT inevitably has to carry out various marketing activities in the off-chain world, and the domain name, as an important part of the DID, is also expected to play a role in bridging the on-chain and off-chain worlds in the future. In contrast to Twitterscan and Unstoppable, which have not yet caused any major financial disputes, the RR/BAYC lawsuit in June demonstrated the contradictions between centralisation and decentralisation.
As one of the many BAYC copycats, Yuga Labs would not have had to worry about any of them threatening the status of the original. For most NFTs, they would like to have more copycats, and the more copycats they have, the more marketing and reach the genuine product will have in disguise. When investors make a profit on the imitation plates, the money will flow back to the genuine product, further strengthening its position. But it happened that RR/BAYC’s thunder was too strong, initiated by Ryder Ripps, a well-known Internet troller and concept artist, and once appeared on OpenSea’s single-day trading volume list, with the floor price topping 1E. With an influencer at the helm, a frenzied community and FOMO, and a poor market environment, even the strongest leaders weren’t having a good time. So Yuga Labs finally remembered who they were as a company and filed a trademark lawsuit against Ryder Ripps, accusing them of being “fine replicas” and using the same trademark to sell and promote them. Therefore, the two started a drama of trademark litigation around NFT in the centralized court.
Why did Yuga sue it when there were so many copycats, so many non-licensed second creations? Because Yuga felt the pressure and the threat to BAYC’s sales profits. When the interests of the two are irrelevant，they are accepting copycats and encouraging second creations with the banner of decentralisation; but when their core interests are touched, they will use the laws of centralisation as a defence.
Back to the .nft domain, Unstoppable Domains, the first major provider to sell .nft, has been a poor marketer as there is no significant consensus in the market for this domain expansion, while Twitterscan, a late comer, has put a lot of effort into marketing. With the same domain, the importance of marketing can be imagined when there is no market consensus. When it felt that its interests were threatened, Unstoppable resorted to the power of centralisation to suppress it.
Whether it’s Unstoppable or Twitterscan, domain names like nft, defi and dao, which are big concepts and have not yet formed a consensus, are bound to face continuous involution, and more domain name service providers are bound to be involved in the future to compete for them.