What is the Healthy Domain Initiative (HDI)?

A DNA-led initiative meant to:

Encourage development of a healthy domain name system
Build on success of the industry
Address global domain name growth
Demonstrate proactive self-regulation

Important Notices

DNA encourages adoption but these are voluntary measures
HDI is industry-led not under the aegis of ICANN
DNA will forego formal metrics program to measure influence

Recommendation Summaries

Addressing Online Security Abuse

Objective: Further reduce security abuse in the DNS

Recommended Practices:

  • Improve credential management on platforms
  • Minimize risks associated with compromised domains
  • Detect and mitigate abuse at point of registration
  • Identify and mitigate abuse on ongoing basis
  • Receive and handle abuse reports

Enhancing Child Abuse Mitigation Systems

Objective: Expand on existing methods for addressing content related to child abuse and provide education to combat abuse

Recommended Practices:

      • Establish system for imagery handlingo Accurately reflect applicable law
      • Establish “trusted notifier” system
      • Consider technologies from outside experts:
        • NCMEC’s URL initiative
        • Photo DNA programs
        • IWF’s Image Hash Tag List

Complaint Handling for “Rogue” Pharmacies

Objective: Address and disable illegal online pharmacies

Recommended Practices:

        • Partner with organizations combatting the problem
        • Notify relevant organizations of rogue actors
        • Take action on confirmed illegal sites
        • Establish trusted notifier and third party validation system

Voluntary Third Party Handling of Copyright Infringement Cases

Objective: Provide voluntary mechanism to mitigate copyright infringement in DNS

Tactics and Goals:

        • Construct voluntary framework for disputes
        • Sound legal construct:
          • Accurately reflect applicable law
          • Ensure due process
          • Registries/registrars cannot be named as parties

Want to learn more about DNA Healthy Domains Initiative Committee? Contact us at info@www.thedna.orgthedna.org and get connected to Mason Cole, HDI Committee Chair.

DNA Healthy Domains Initiative

Copyright Alternative Dispute Resolution Proposal FAQs


More than a year ago, the Domain Name Association (DNA), the domain name industry’s trade association, organized the Healthy Domains Initiative (HDI), an industry-led program that encourages sound stewardship of the Internet namespace.

In early 2017, as its first output the DNA published the first substantive output of the HDI effort – four voluntary practice areas for domain registries and registrars that aim to help the domain name system (DNS) remain healthy as it grows and evolves.

In addition to mitigating “badware” (malware, pharming, phishing, etc.), addressing abusive online child imagery and establishing procedures for dealing with illegal online pharmacies, the DNA advanced the concept of a third party system for handling pervasive and systemic copyright infringement cases (known as an alternative dispute resolution, or ADR).


What’s the objective of a copyright ADR?
The objective is to provide a voluntary mechanism to help mitigate pervasive and systemic copyright infringement in the DNS.

How would the ADR be constructed?
The ADR would be a voluntary framework for disputes involving pervasive and systemic infringement, so rights holders could use a more efficient and cost-effective system for clear cases of copyright abuse, other than going to court. Such a construct relieves registries and registrars from acting as “judge or jury” with regard to copyright complaints.

• The framework is registry-specific. Each registry decides whether to participate. Participating registries would:
o Adopt a policy requiring registrants to submit to an ADR proceeding; and
o Agree to take necessary steps to implement a panel’s decision (i.e., cancellation of registration or transfer to complainant).
• The ADR is not a precluding step to litigation. Remedy from the courts remains available.
• There is a mandatory 30-day notice period—that is, a potential complainant must notify the sponsoring registrar of the alleged infringement 30 days before a complaint can be filed.
• Remedies would be limited to:
o Cancellation of a domain name; or
o Transfer of a registration to the complainant.

No monetary damages are awarded.

• The legal construct of the ADR is sound:
o It accurately will reflect applicable law.
o Due process for respondents is assured.
o The complainant is responsible for panel fees.
o Registries and registrars cannot be named as parties.

Is the ADR now in place?
Not as of yet. The Public Interest Registry (the registry for .ORG) is spearheading the effort to design the system, and reports that it should be available in Q2 2017.

Are registries and registrars required to participate?
No. Many such providers already provide terms and conditions to address cases of rights infringement. Participation in the ADR is entirely voluntary.

Will the ADR apply to names in any domain name extension?
No. Registries must voluntarily participate.

Is this a case of registries trying to unilaterally impose new obligations without negotiation?
No. Keep in mind that providers (under their terms and conditions) often have the latitude to act when laws or regulations are in clear violation—seldom are such terms subject to negotiation. The ADR is an opportunity to establish a system that ensures a fair process with a high burden of proof required.

Do ADR penalties exceed those available through court action?
No. The only remedy is the transfer or suspension of the name in question. Under no circumstances are monetary damages awarded.

Is this a “quick and dirty” way to dislodge a name without having to file a court action?
Again, no. The standard of proof is higher than that required by a court—there must be clear and convincing evidence of systemic copyright infringement.

Who carries the burden of proof?
The complainant does.

Are decisions appealable?
Yes, either party may appeal to a court of law.

If a registrant’s name is the subject of a complaint, won’t that registrant have to incur fees to “defend” the name?
The complainant pays required fees. The respondent incurs costs only if he/she elects to have a three-person panel hear the case.

Doesn’t this give the registry the chance to “pick a winner” or otherwise ensure its preferred party gets a domain name?
Registries have no “preferred” owners and, of course, have no say in who files a complaint. The registry is obligated to comply with the panel’s decision and/or the court’s decision in the event of an appeal.

Will respondents be denied the ability to make defensive arguments as they would in court (e.g., rely on safe harbor, or ISP immunity under the Communications Decency Act)?
No. All defenses are available.

Did this idea arise from dispute resolution providers seeking to profit from more disputes involving domain names?
No, this idea originated from a domain name registry. Keep in mind, the procedure only is for systemic copyright infringement—sites with the obvious purpose of distribution of copyrighted materials without a license.

Registries and registrars shouldn’t deal with content issues, should they?
They already do. For example, when child imagery clearly is recognized as abusive, providers as a rule don’t hesitate to act. Copyright infringement is a violation of law, and a voluntary, third-party mechanism will help keep non-experts from adjudicating what infringes and what doesn’t.
Providers shouldn’t be “creating policy,” should they?
Remember that every service proffered comes with terms of use and policies attached, and providers do have the latitude to update those policies in view of developing circumstances. This, however, is not a mandatory policy—providers certainly don’t have to implement it if they choose otherwise.

Isn’t this a “slippery slope?”
Some will be tempted to characterize it as such, but the fact is that providers already may act without a court order on clear cases of infringement, and some do. The ADR is a voluntary process designed to remove the provider as adjudicator.