ICANN was born against a back drop when there was a monopoly within the
name space, as .COM, .NET and .ORG were king and NSI held the keys to
all three. At that time ccTLDs provided no real alternative in the
marketplace, although today .DE and .CN are the second and third largest
TLDs in the world behind only .COM. So change can and does happen.
Here is the reality of the marketplace, all the Big Registries seek to
cut deals with the Big Registrars to get priority placement on the pull
down menus or tick boxes on the registrar's home page. Much like in the
retail marketplace, there is a limited amount of premium shelf space on
that registrar's home page, and the big registries structure deals so
that premium shelf space goes to the established brands or those willing
to make it financially attractive to the registrars. The problem as
identified in Danny's most recent example, is that some registries are
not-for-profit and serve small communities. Thus they have a slim chance
of ever appearing on GoDaddy's or TUCOWS homepage.
This is why as in the case of .MUSEUM I believe the proposed alternate
language strikes the proper balance between preserving the existing
registry/registrar dichotomy and allowing a registry to represent and
serve the interests of that community.
Now while this further explanation may not address Elizabeth's specific
concerns, it is important to discuss how the proposed recommendations
that have been discussed in the registrar community will not address her
concerns either. As previously mentioned, ICANN accredited registrars
have advocated removing the restrictions regarding ownership of an ICANN
accredited registrar by a registry. In the Google hypothetical discussed
previously, the new Google registry would simply use the existing Google
registrar. If the domain names were given away for free, it is highly
doubtful that any ICANN competitive registrar would even bother
providing an interface where the profit margin would likely be near
The reason I find your discussion important is that it draws an
important distinction between the role ICANN does and does not play.
ICANN is about fostering competition in its role as a technical
coordinator, however, it is not a competition authority. If a registry
such as Google was to potentially abuse its position in the marketplace
as a registry operator (either direct or through its Google registrar)
this is where GOVERNMENTS need to step in an take action. ICANN lacks
the skill set and authority to serve as competition regulator. That is
why the registry funnel request has a mechanism by which ICANN can refer
potential new registry service requests to a competent competition
authority for investigation where appropriate.
Getting back to Roberto's comments about looking at situations that make
"little sense", I think there is a real need to incorporate this type of
common sense approach into the new ICANN's gTLD process.
I hope this email adds to the constructive dialog on this topic.
With regard to Elizabeth's email to Danny regarding the level of fee, I
share your concerns about any fee levels that could act as a barrier to
entry, especially in developing countries.
P.S. Given the current exchage rate, in future can I have your 0.02
Euros instead of cents :-)
From: Elisabeth Porteneuve [mailto:elisabeth.porteneuve@xxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 8:21 AM
To: Michael D. Palage; 'elliot noss'; ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Cc: 'Danny Younger'
Subject: Re: [ga] GNSO Council: Taking 21 monthsto arrive at bad
The registry-registrar scheme, and subsequently ICANN, were put in place
against a monopoly, which we did not like. The registrant-registrar
contract, with some general policy rules established in ICANN forum is a
guarantee for users to have a freedom of choice. In the scheme of
integration, giving domain names away for free to an existing client -
the very possible Google scenario - you have in place all elements
allowing for unwanted concentration of powers.
My two cents,
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael D. Palage" <mike@xxxxxxxxxx>
To: "'elliot noss'" <enoss@xxxxxxxxxx>; <ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "'Danny Younger'" <dannyyounger@xxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 4:05 AM
Subject: RE: [ga] GNSO Council: Taking 21 monthsto arrive at bad
I thought I provided this answer previously, but just so there is no
confusion let me restate my personal opinion.
I believe there should be a presumption that all ICANN accredited
registries use ICANN accredited registrars. However, I believe this
should be a rebutable presumption where the registry operator can
demonstrate a unique set of circumstances, i.e enhancing diversity,
competition, and/or innovation, etc. I believe Danny's Google
hypothetical is one such example, and is potentially relevant in other
circumstances, especially where the registry operator's business model
may involve giving away domain names for free.
I believe TUCOWS own history points to the fact of why people need to
keep an open mind on expanding the name space and spurring innovation.
Prior to TUCOWS OPENSRS, most of the original test bed registrars were
selling domain names at about $30 per year, a $5 per domain name year
savings. Your OpenSRS model kind of rocked the registrar landscape
early on dropping prices to around $10 per domain name year.
Having worked with a number of smaller sponsored registries, I have
seen first hand how the existing registrar distribution chain can be
rather restrictive. Based upon this experience, I had originally
thought that a fixed domain names under management threshold would be
a good measuring stick for when a registry had to use ICANN accredited
registrars. You may recall our discussions with Louie back in
Montevideo in 2001 on this topic. However, as Danny's Google hypo
illustrated, there may be a case where a registry wants to give domain
names away for free to an existing client, in which case the
imposition of using ICANN accredited registrars seem less than
So to answer your question, I do not see a situation in the current
marketplace that would justify VeriSign being able to go direct with
either the .COM or .NET registries. I do believe however there are
likely a number of business models for new TLDs that I have not even
dreamed of that would benefit by a more liberal distribution model.
I hope that answers your question, and thanks for the constructive
From: elliot noss [mailto:enoss@xxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2007 9:27 PM
To: Michael D. Palage; ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Cc: Danny Younger
Subject: Re: [ga] GNSO Council: Taking 21 months to arrive at bad
mike, danny, do you feel this way for new tlds or for com/net as well?
On Sep 4, 2007, at 3:00 PM, Michael D. Palage wrote:
I believe I find myself with Danny on this issue, and it should come
as no surprise to you based upon our previous in-depth discussions on
issue. In fact I specifically raised this point in the recently
public forum on new gTLDs, see
However, I am a little confused over your claims that allowing
registries to go direct will place consumers at risk. If the registry
is providing domain name registration services either directly or
indirectly to the registrant, ICANN has a direct contractual
relationship with the registry.
To demonstrate how registries can go direct and still protect
registrant's interests, consider the following four gTLDs: .EDU,
..MIL and .INT. While these are all legacy gTLDs, they are
still gTLDs in which the respective registries value very highly the
interests of their registrants. However, none of these four TLDs uses
registrars. The registry merely deals with the registrant. As I have
previously said, I do believe that at this time the default mechanism
for domain name distribution should be through ICANN accredited
registrars, however, I do believe there are situations in which this
requirement is a burden and impedes competition and innovation.
While some registrars have put forward the compromise of allowing
ICANN accredited registries to own ICANN accredited registrars, I
find this "compromise" rather self serving given that a number of
registrars are likely to be submitting bids on new gTLDs next year
either directly or through one of their sister companies. Given that
this comprise only raises the cost for a new registry entrant to the
market place that wishes to go direct, I believe this fact goes
to the legal concerns raised by Danny.
Obviously if a registry goes direct there is the need for scrutiny to
make sure that a registry does not abuse its position as a sole
provider. However, as has been demonstrated in the case of .EDU,
..MIL and .INT, consumers are not being harmed even though they are I
some cases paying higher per domain name registrant costs than
equivalent registrants in the .COM space.
Just my two cents and I look forward to a rather constructive dialog
on this topic.
From: owner-ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:owner-ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
Behalf Of Nevett, Jonathon
Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2007 12:29 PM
To: Danny Younger; ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: RE: [ga] GNSO Council: Taking 21 months to arrive at bad
In the wake of the RegisterFly controversy, you and other folks on
this list have been advocating for ICANN to enforce requirements in
the Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) in order to better
"protect registrants." I have been very vocal in encouraging ICANN
to enforce the requirements in the RAA. Doing so is good for
registrants and the DNS, as well as helps to level the competitive
playing field for registrars.
You also have been advocating for changes to the RAA to add
additional requirements or regulations on registrars. Indeed, as of
this morning, you alone account for over 70% of the posts on the
comment forum on potential changes to the RAA. I am leading a group
of registrars that will work with ICANN to discuss potential changes
to the RAA.
With this background, I was quite surprised to read the below post
from you, in which you argue that the current model of having
selling domain name services through registrars is a "poor
recommendation" for new TLDs. I can't imagine how you can argue that
ICANN should add additional requirements on registrars on one hand
then seek the abolishment of the current registrar model for new
the other. Only ICANN-accredited registrars are bound by the terms
the RAA. If registries sold domain name services outside of the
registrar channel, ICANN would have no contractual relationship
sales channel and no rights whatsoever to enforce. How could opening
the floodgates to permit any entity to sell such services without any
contractual requirements place registrants in a more protected
The GNSO Councilors must have understood this to be the case when
they approved Recommendation 19 without dissent.
From: owner-ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:owner-ga@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
Behalf Of Danny Younger
Sent: Monday, September 03, 2007 10:09 AM
Subject: [ga] GNSO Council: Taking 21 months to arrive at bad
The GNSO new gTLDs PDP was launched quite some time
ago and has arrived at a number of horrible
recommendations. Consider recommendation #19 that
would require all new gTLD registries to rely
exclusively on ICANN-accredited registrars. Public
comments thus far have shown opposition from a chinese registrar
(BeijingIDC.com), from Michael Palage, from Karl Auerbach, from
Guanghao Li, from Milton Mueller, and from Vittorio Bertola. Beyond
that, we now
see that the .museum proposed agreement also serves to undermine the
proposed recommendation. Earlier, I too, raised my concerns with the
prospect of anti-trust issues. Finally, even the registries have
concerns with this recommendation -- see their "Impact Statement" at
This leads one to ask: If that many well-informed and reasonable
people are in opposition to a particular GNSO recommendation, then
how did the
process allow for this poor recommendation to be agreed upon by the
Councillors? What is so fundamentally wrong with GNSO mechanisms
results in bad decision-making?
Logically, we should also be asking "How do we go
about correcting the problem?"
I'm told that the Board Governance Committee's Working
Group on GNSO Improvements will soon be meeting with
current and former GNSO Council Chairs prior to
issuing a new draft recommendation. Let's hope that
this committee asks some of the hard questions lest
they arrive at nothing but cosmetic changes in their
new iteration of "GNSO improvements".
Fussy? Opinionated? Impossible to please? Perfect. Join Yahoo!'s
user panel and lay it on us.