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|Tiered / Variable Pricing By Domain Not Forbidden in New .BIZ/INFO/ORG contracts|
Vint Cerf/ICANN confirm member's interpretation of new proposed contracts
Vint Cerf/ICANN confirm my interpretation of .biz/info/org proposed contracts -- tiered/differential domain pricing would not be forbidden
I finally got the "official" word from Vint Cerf of ICANN, "on the record", who confirmed that my interpretation is correct, that differential/tiered pricing on a domain-by-domain basis would not be forbidden under the .biz/info/org proposed contracts. This means that the registries could charge $100,000/yr for sex.biz, $25,000/yr for movies.org, etc. if they wanted to -- it would not be forbidden the way the proposed contracts are currently written. This would represent a powerful pricing weapon for registries, and a fundamental shift in possible domain name pricing, that could lead them to emulate .tv-style price schedules.
One can read the proposed contracts at:
Vint said it would be "suicide" for a registry to do it, because there'd be the 6-month notice period to raise prices and the ability for registrants to renew for up to 10 years at "old prices", that supposedly "protects" registrants. Personally, as a business, my time horizon is a lot longer than 10 years. I wonder if Vint felt introducing "SiteFinder" was suicide, too....history has shown registries will do whatever they can get away with, in order to maximize profits long-term and short-term.
I don't think Vint understands the business at all, to think that a lag of 10 years will deter a profit-maximizing registry, esp. VeriSign should it try to match this contractual precedent in .com (and history shows VeriSign will always try to get "more", especially if "another registry" is able to do something -- they used that tactic in .com renegotiations, saying various terms were already in the .net contract, for instance).
Just to show one possible future, if PIR feels pressure or has a desire to clean up porn from .org, it could announce that <snip/sex domain>.org (check its Alexa ranking) will have its renewal price be $1 billion/yr. If it takes 10 years to do it, many would wait, and it would not be considered "suicide" for PIR. Who will stand against that as "we're protecting the internet and children from porn", PIR might argue? Leaving this temptation in the contract will likely become a slippery slope, in my opinion, leading to profit-maximizing behaviour by registries to emulate .tv. Acting in the interests of their shareholders, registries are *compelled* to maximize profits.
It can be used as a political weapon, too. If a registry disagreed with the views or content of a website for which they were the registry, they could raise the renewal price to $100 billion/yr. 10 years later, that website would not exist at that address, and nothing in the contracts would forbid this pricing behaviour. More likely, it would be used for profit maximization (if Google.com is a $100 billion company, "certainly they are benefiting from their domain name, and can afford our $1 billion/yr renewal fee" one might say -- see the net neutrality debate and tiered pricing for websites that phone and cable companies are pushing....). How far away is tiered domain name pricing?
ICANN would be opening up a Pandora's Box through this contractual loophole, to not forbid .tv style pricing. The mistake would not be able to be corrected, as the contracts explicitly say that Consensus Policies do not apply to pricing issues. Since presumptive renewal exists in these new deals, the contracts are essentially going to live with ICANN forever, if approved.
If this pricing power eventually got extended to .com, nothing would prevent the renewal fee for Yahoo.com, GoDaddy.com, Google.com, Tucows.com, Business.com, Sex.com or any other domain in a registry with similar terms to reach $1 billion per year, or any other price that VeriSign or other registry operators wanted to maximize its profits (net-neutrality debate is similar, for bandwidth pricing to websites). You can imagine my VeriSignSucks.com won't last longer than 10 years, if VeriSign had the power to raise the renewal fee to $1 billion/year. :)
I believe that it is very important that this loophole be closed, in order to not create the precedent that VeriSign could later exploit for .com, and to protect registrants of .biz/org/info. If it is "suicide", as Vint suggested, then surely a registry that would supposedly never use the power would agree to remove the temptation by adding an appropriate term to the contract. A registry not willing to add that term....well, you know what they might be tempted to do later. If your business horizon is the next quarter, this won't impact you. If it's beyond 10 years, it could impact you. Can you live with that uncertainty?
ICANN went even further than the .com proposed settlement with VeriSign, and gives these registries removal of price caps "following extensive consideration and discussion" (I don't recall any such public discussion or consultation with the ICANN community and stakeholders). However, take note of ICANN's statements in the CFIT litigation regarding pricing caps on May 26th:
"in a single supplier market, price caps are, if anything, procompetitive (Mot. at 13-14);" [page 1 of the document, line 13, page 6 of all 15]
"Nowhere does CFIT address the fact that, at this point in time, all that ICANN and VeriSign have done is propose future price **limits** for .COM domain names, which cannot be implemented until the DOC approves the .COM Extension. (Mot. at 20-22.) And, as ICANN explained in its opening brief, price caps in a single supplier market are considered pro-competitive. (Mot. at 13-14.)" [page 8 of the document, line 14, page 13 of all 15]
So, you have ICANN lawyers telling the court that price caps are pro-competitive in these single supplier markets (i.e. where registries are the single suppliers for each TLD). Indeed, it is part of ICANN's mission to promote competition.
Yet, we have ICANN removing all price caps entirely on .biz, .info and .org with these proposed new contracts. Something is amiss. Wouldn't that contradict everything their lawyers said to the court?
Feel free to spread the word on the mailing lists or media, and contact Vint (vint AT google.com) or John Jeffrey (jeffrey AT icann.org) or other ICANN staffers if you want to confirm things and voice your concerns. Time is of the essence, as the public comment period ends next Monday. Registrants DO NOT know what is coming (the public comment board is almost empty), as it's the summer holidays! (typical ICANN tactic, introduce 500+ page contracts for public comment when everyone is on holiday)
Public comments can be sent using the addresses at:
(be sure to send to all 3 email addresses for all 3 contracts, and also click the link in the email ICANN will send you to authenticate your email address, otherwise your comment doesn't get received)
There are a lot of other reasons to be opposed to the proposed contracts, such as the presumptive renewal, the ability to sell traffic data, the removal of price caps, etc. I will be writing a longer document soon, but wanted to give everyone a heads-up, so that you can take appropriate action on your own now, and corroborate things independently with Vint Cerf, John Jeffrey or other ICANN people.
These are fundamentally flawed contracts, and should not be approved by ICANN. The precedents these contracts would create are ominous, even worse then the .com proposed settlement agreement (that the DoC has yet to approve). Why is ICANN even renegotiating these registry agreements, when the existing terms don't expire for several years in some cases, and the GNSO PDP process for registry services is ongoing?
[edited by: Webwork at 1:49 am (utc) on Aug. 25, 2006]
Is it possible for the registrant, the owner/holder of the name to renew or register a domain name with the ICANN directly?
I don't know, but this frightning development makes me wanna know the answer to this
|I may have got this wrong? but people here are saying this is a good thing as it will cut down on squatters? |
It could cut down on squatters. It could cut down on domain ownership accross the board. It's the people with regular websites that will suffer more.
What do you think is more worth holding on to? A trademarked domain with no traffic? Or any website with a brand and links?
Let's say you get to price them however you like and then you get the money if the owner pays, or you own them. Who will you charge the most?
This has nothing to do with "squatting."
|Again, I say "Who cares"... if it ain't a .COM, it's barely worth registering. |
Deciding something is ok just because they aren't coming after you is a little dangerous.
The issue isn't just whether something is worth registering. It also concerns whether something is worth keeping after you have spent many years and dollars on it. How much will they charge for your beloved .com and .net later?
vite_rts ..it's touch early in the day for webwork ..
so to answer your question whilst he gets his first coffee fix ..;-)
no you cant buy or renew directly with ICANN ..
you must go through one of the registrars that they ICANN are proposing should be able to charge whatever the market will bear for renewals on these domain suffixes ..
Now think of the following scenario ..
a non profit org or info exists for the last 10 years ..website full of information and ressources and links on a major medical condition ..their domain name is a generic word ..say "cancer" ..whatever ..dot org ..
they pay their massive bandwidth ( via adsense or equivalent )..they are number one for the terms on all engines serps for the related terms and keywords ( they are linked to by everyone who counts in their field ..edu's other orgs even info's and dotcom pharmacutecal sites ) ..this reputation based serp position has taken many many people the last 10 years to acheive ..and their site has helped many millions more ..
mega pharmacompany either doesnt like something they say about side effects ( thalidomide ring any bells ) ..or just wants at the revenue stream ..
or may be just the wife of the CEO of the registrar comanies wants to buy a mega yacht in Cannes ..
come renewal time ..
registrar company says ..
your dot org will now cost 100 million dollars per year ..or you lose it ..as of now ..
and having confiscated / stolen the domain name and all of the associated "type in" traffic potential ..registrar then says to spouse ..
Ok make a site and we'll retire to Monaco on the adsense ..
or registrar offers the name to megapharmacompany to be used to promote their unsafe remedy ..
or imagine if chilling effects dot org could be shut down just by a sweetheart deal between someone at their registrar and the illegal pron industry ..
this proposal allows for anyone with enough money and pull with a registrar to silence anyone else via backdoor blackmail at the time of domain name renewal ..
and to anyone ( like the current board of the ICANN ) who thinks that similar such things dont go on every day in international business and politics ..what planet are they living on ..
this is not needed to stop trade mark domain name squatting ..
this is either dumb , insane or there is a ( now not so well ) hidden agenda ..
let this one get through and the internet would become the exclusive media of the millionaires ..theyd be the only ones able to afford the names with any traffic ..
[edited by: Leosghost at 11:25 am (utc) on Aug. 25, 2006]
This one will got to many courts in the future
It strikes at the very heart off the concept of property ownership, IMHO
Registrars , as i understand it offer a facilitating service an have no ownership of the domains in question,
Thus a registrer really can only justify charging for the cost off processing a registration,,,,
I know so little so I better just read what everyone else is saying
I've always been a bit paranoid about using those "Domain Available?" tools with registrars, basically because I would expect it to be possible, though unlikely, for someone to be watching which domains are being requested, then buying them with an eye toward selling at a huge profit. I realize this is a pretty groundless suspicion, but with a policy like this, what would be to prevent domain names from automatically going up in price as soon as someone checks to see if they're available? Check once, price goes up to $20. Check twice - hmm, you're really interested, price goes up to $45, and so on. Does anyone else see this as a danger?
there is a fair bit of evidence to say that that already happens with certain registrars ..
( it's been discussed here at WebmasterWorld before ..how ever that particular subject is better discussed in a new thread )
this proposal would let them steal later what they weren't fast enough to get the first time ..
|how about the average low to middle income or indeed simple fan sites or personal sites.. if they have a domain of decent value they will now have to £0000's to renew their domain? I'm sure i must have got that wrong... |
Not to mention, the .orgs. How many non profit organizations (both large and small) have long-established sites on .org domains? Many of them wouldn't be able to afford that kind of price increase.
its absolutely ridiculous...this would do more damage to genuine domain owners as compared to squatters.
And Microsoft, Yahooo and Google have nothing to fear about their domains as they are approved registries themselves.
It's regular non Web busines that have to fear losing their domains.
I guess the Web is becoming like TV and radio - only for the big guys...
How does one start a class action suit?
|And Microsoft, Yahooo and Google have nothing to fear about their domains as they are approved registries themselves. |
Nope, they are registrars. The central registry that actually operates the .org domain would, if I understand the proposal correctly, get to tell ALL the registries how much the minimum they can charge for any given name is.
Just like registrars have to fork over $6 a year to the registry to register a .com domain now, they may be required to hand over anything from $0 to $infinite (depending on the domain and how the registry chooses to play its "pricing independence" card) a year for the registry to maintain their .org/biz/info domain.
Sure, the registrars won't have to add a markup (making the price for a given domain $1 to $infinity+1, or whatever markup is customary) since they are selling to themselves, but that's not much of a cost saving if the registry is saying a given domain now costs $1,000 or $1,000,000 or $1,000,000,000.
As a registrar, what if you don't want to pay? That's fine, but you won't be able to get your registration processed by the central registry unless you do.
With all the discussion we seem to be missing an important matter. This issue needs to be reduced to an easily repeated soundbite that sums up the issue for the layperson. The person who has no idea how to even get a website.
I propose something like:
Privately Owned Websites Outlawed
The organization that manages domain names is proposing that only corporations and government organizations will own websites in the future.
Followed by the details... that the general public won't read.....
This variable pricing for domains could be catastrophe to any online business - big or small. Say my business name is "Xyz Abc Ppp", I own xyz-abc-ppp.ext domain and run successful website for several years.
It is not so difficult for registrar to guestimate site's value using Webwork's (PR + IBL + total pages (using up all that registry space) + email accounts + Alexa rank + Pages in G index + Affiliate links + xyz = Renewal Price For Domain.).
Now suddenly on next renewal I must pay $5.000 (which I will BTW) for combination xyz-abc-ppp which is not a dictionary word in any of the world's languages - pay only for the fact that over years I have established successful online business called xyz-abc-ppp. I think this is piracy.
The other issue is what do we tell people to do about it?
I can reach a few thousand regular people but who do I tell them to complain too? I am not sure yet.
Webwork any suggestions?
regular people have less impact than contacting your local or national media ( Press , Tv ..eg: CNN , etc ..and other fora and industry and tech blogs etc )..( the BBC in the UK ..I already phoned today Friday 25.06.2006 and they have read the thread along with me ) and pointing them at this thread and GeorgeK's fourth post in this thread..someone else phones them ..great ..it'll make some more buzz ..
then suggest to them ( As I did to the BBC )to go to the link posted by GeorgeK to the ICANN ...and to also contact the ICANN themselves asking for a comment / justification / explanation ..
enough of us keep doing this wherever we can ..and maybe the ICANN will see sense or be ashamed enough to drop this ..never thought I'd find myself agreeing with "netsol"..
what GeorgeK wrote here should be clear enough for anyone to see the injustice and stupidity of this move at attempting to make the internet the property of the mega rich only ..
|Imagine, you've built a great website, and are on top of the world due to all the incoming visitors and sales revenues. Your competitors envy you, as do your neighbours. Your online brand has become very valuable, and when people think of widgets, the first website that comes to mind is your site. Life is good. |
You open the mail, though, and see a renewal notice for your domain name that is $75,000/yr, instead of the $10/yr that you were used to. You call up your registrar, thinking "this must be a typo". But, instead, you are told, "due to the success and high value you are receiving from your domain, the renewal fee really is $75,000/yr."
BTW ..ICANN also proposes selling the data on traffic to "your domain name" to other parties ..anyone with a site of more than 10 visitors per day can expect major price hikes at renewal time ..even verisign couldnt have had the gall to write this idea up ..
remember ..Monday 28th August 2006 comes in 3 days and the ICANN are hoping this will slide by quietly and become real ..
edited to add ..
how to find which numbers to phone , where to post etc? ..use the search engines ..we are supposed to all be experts at this ..it's our industry ..for now..lets try and do something together to keep it that way ..;-)
[edited by: Leosghost at 3:23 pm (utc) on Aug. 25, 2006]
webprofessor: People should send public comments to ICANN, using the three email addresses at:
by Monday. Archives of the existing comments can be seen from that page, too. I would send the identical email to all three addresses, to ensure that the comment is applied to all the contracts.
ICANN sends a confirmation email, asking one to click a link to authenticate one's email address. One must click, otherwise the comment won't be archived/processed (i.e. to prevent spam from flooding the archives).
I just got off the phone with the division that handles ICANN relations at the Department of Commerce, Its NTIAA.
I spoke with Suzan Sene for about 15 minutes and she was familiar with the new agreement seemed genuinely interested in persuing this issue. She's going to speak to legal and see what they can do on their end.
An interesting comment she made to me was that she has NEVER heard from those of us in the web business. She found it interesting that she actually found a constituancy thats concerned about ICANN.
Their website is here:
Suzan asked that I send here any info we have regarding this so please PM me if you have any links you think I should share with her.
This is the template I am using to spread this to non-web people.
Privately Owned Websites Outlawed
The organization that manages domain names is proposing that only corporations and government organizations will own websites in the future.
ICANN the governing body that manages domain names is proposing to allow variable & teired pricing of domain names. That means that the price of your domain name can be changed on a whim by the organization that you bought it from.
Imagine for instance this site and all the work that the staff put into making it. If this proposal were approved the business that leased the name to the owners could simply say "Your site is popular now you have to pay more tis year". Will that charge be $20? $2000? $10000? you won't know they will be able to change it at their whim for any site they want.
What if you say something unpopular on your site ( say your prodrugs for instance or of a different religon ) and the company you lease your name from doesn't like that? Again they could charge you more for no reason. IN fact they could price you right out of the domain.. asking even a million dollars if they wish.
You don't even have the option to go to another business to lease your name from. There is only one for each type of name.
It seems the only deep pocketed organizations will be able to fight this form of opression of speech.
If you believe in free speech and fair business practices please share this.
Please let them know how you feel about it by sending an email to them here:
Also please spread the word..
Contact any business organizations your a member of.
Contact any others you know that run websites.
For more information try here:
Also I recommend writing bob parsons at godaddy via his email@example.com account. He rants about ICANN alot maybe he would get involved in this.
For long term it will make more sense to big companies have its own registrar, than to pay someone else to renew its domains. Last time I checked, opening your own registrar was (IIRC) under the $80K level, so it could be pointless to renew a domain for more than this amount.
Think about Google, Google.org, Picasa, GMail, and maybe others, valuable domains owned by the same company, and this starts to make sense. (And I've heard that Google already is a registrar, so for then this may even be a non-issue.)
|Suzan asked that I send here any info we have regarding this so please PM me if you have any links you think I should share with her. |
Makes more sense just to point anyone interested at this thread ..otherwise it's just duplicating effort and or trying to start private "intermediary" conversations with those who might help ..
I'm sure Brett wouldnt mind if "Suzan" ( or any journalists or elected officials etc )logged in and became a member here ;-)..she might learn a few other things on the subject of the "innerweb tubes" whilst here ..
This propsed agreement makes all the com guys who always said to "buy nothing but com's" brilliant since only large owners of biz info and org are effected by no future price caps being allowed since a removal of fixed prices does not apply to com.
Beginning to think I should possibly sell many of our hundreds of org's (at this time I never sell as we are developers only) rather than be faced with high renewal fees in the future once the registry realizes you get good traffic or have a valuable website, and decide they can hold the domain ransom, as is very likely to occur.
If this is approved there will be little incentive to build good websites with those extensions and perhaps be faced with a $10k/year or more renewal fee in a few years or less. If you don't pay the registry may get the name back and sell it for more than 10k so they can come out ahead either way at expense of the domain owner who wasted his time making the site valuable.
At this time we are stopping the building and enhancing of all our dot org websites, at least until reasonable fixed pricing is established in the future due to the uncertainty. In addition, if this sky is the limit pricing is approved we likely will eventually start selling some of our org websites which we feel could be priced quite high in a few yrs.
Since we have so many org's, renewing for 10-years is not really a viable option. Plus even if we renew our best ones for 10 years it would make the 1 year renewal price in 10-years even more inflated since the domain and site would be so well established by then, perhaps we may get a bill for 100k for the good ones once the 10-years is over.
Hard to believe ICANN wants to push this thru to most everyone's detriment. IMO, a problem is the apparent all too cozy relationship they have with the registries.
[edited by: trader at 6:03 pm (utc) on Aug. 25, 2006]
For businesses here that do want to get more involved in ICANN and internet governance, one might want to consider joining the ICANN Business Constituency, at www.bizconst.org/
(my company is one of the 30 or so members, Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc., as a Category 1 member; Yahoo, Disney, Time Warner, Nokia and other large and small firms are also members )
They have a lower fee for "micro enterprises", doing under 500,000 Euros per year in revenues, although they also get fewer votes.
With issues like IDN Top Level Domains, WHOIS, new TLDs, DNSSEC, ipv6, etc., there are a lot of potential matters that could affect you as a webmaster in the future.
[edited by: Webwork at 6:32 pm (utc) on Aug. 25, 2006]
[edit reason] Delinked [/edit] [/edit][/1]
I posted a comment on Bob Parson's blog, and I see that another person did as well...a few more and maybe we'll be lucky enough to get him to comment.
Anyone an admin on places like Fark or Digg? That'd go a ways to reaching afternoon radio DJs.
@Leo.. I am sending her links to all the discussions here as well as other spots.
@Joe.. I wrote the godaddy presidents email address and received a response from Michelle there. In the past the presidents office has been very responsive. I hope thats true in this case as well.
|This propsed agreement makes all the com guys who always said to "buy nothing but com's" brilliant since only large owners of biz info and org are effected by no future price caps being allowed since a removal of fixed prices does not apply to com. |
I don't see how it makes them brilliant. Info, biz and org now... com, net, and others later.
This obviously wasn't forseeable to big owners of info biz and org (Of which I am not). If they do the same thing to the other tlds later, I will say it was quite easy to see.
Please everyone take a moment to visit this URL and post your comments about how these proposals make you feel. It is out duties as webmasters to preserve all that we have built, specifically the internet as a whole. ICANN will possibly listen, and make the appropriate changes, if enough speak up.
It's simple to post your comments. Draft your email, send it to each of these addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Then check your email box a few minutes later. .org may take longer than info and biz for some reason
|I don't see how it makes them brilliant. Info, biz and org now... com, net, and others later. |
Can not see open-ended pricing ever being approved for dot com (but possibly it will for net and others). Reason is big firms like Google.com MSN.com AOL.com CNN.com Yahoo.com and dozens of other internet giants could easily see their renewal fees increase to say $1,000,000 to $10,000,000/yr.
After all, to the guy who runs Plumber.com that would only be right since to be fair to him who's site gets a lot less traffic and "only" a 40k renewal bill they would need to charge Microsoft.com a fee of at least $10,000,000 or more a year based on site popularity and traffic, or else Plumber.com would complain about the fees being discriminatory and favoring the giant sites.
Because of that the big firms would lobby heavily against open-ended renewal fees on com and I feel confident with their immense muscle and politics it will not be approved for com's, even if it goes thru for org and others.
IMO, this could actually put an end to the internet as we know it and put most small websites, domainers and parking firms out of business and in the hands of big players only.
|For long term it will make more sense to big companies have its own registrar, than to pay someone else to renew its domains. Last time I checked, opening your own registrar was (IIRC) under the $80K level, so it could be pointless to renew a domain for more than this amount. |
From the way I understand this you may be confused on this as the REGISTRY will be able to impose the open-ended pricing, not the registrar. That is a big difference so owning your own registrar will have little impact on the renewal fees because the registrar will owe the registry the money (which you pay the registrar and they pay the registry on your behalf, in effect).
|From the way I understand this you may be confused on this as the REGISTRY will be able to impose the open-ended pricing, not the registrar. |
Trader thanks for putting an emphasis on the term. A lot of people (myself included) have been calling both the registries and registrars as registrars. I do actually know the difference (kinda, sorta) but have been using the one term to describe them both.
The REGISTRY controls the TLD and the registrars are the companies that register the names for us webmasters. In the ICANN comments, in a lot of places, where the term registrar is used people mean the registry. I think it's important to clear it up so that we look like we know what we are talking about.
Registrars are in competition with each other so we do not have to worry about them giving us the shaft. It's the registries for each TLD that are monopoly providers.
I hope I've got it right.
That is right. Little need to fear registrar price increases as there are so many of them you can do business with (which tends to keep prices low due to competition). However, there is only 1 registry operator who is a monopoly in effect for their TLD or Country Code extension, i.e: for dot-org it is PIR. You can newly register or transfer your domain to dozens of registrars but only one authorized registry really controls the domain.
On a side note, at the pir.org website it's interesting to see how PIR feels like the new proposed agreement (which permits the sky is the limit arbitrary pricing) should be considered more than 2 yrs prematurely by ICANN. It does not at all seem like it's truly in the Public Interest but PIR is the acronym for Public Interest Registry!
Also quite interesting how they also want the right to to collect traffic data on domains per section 3.1.f of the new agreement. Little doubt they will try to use that data to justify high renewal fees in the future.
|Because of that the big firms would lobby heavily against open-ended renewal fees on com and I feel confident with their immense muscle and politics it will not be approved for com's, even if it goes thru for org and others. |
I sure hope so. I think that's a battle we'll see happen.
If you're right, a move like this makes existing and future .coms more valuable.
I think it's an issue of principle and would personally rather see it knocked out right now.
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