Critics Blast ICANN Proposed Registry Agreements - Unkindest Provision of All
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But these weren’t the provisions that inspired the greatest number of comments. By far, it was the lifting of the price controls from the registries that inspired the greatest spate of ire. To avoid misunderstanding, that point deserves to be quoted in full from ICANN’s web site:
“Following extensive consideration and discussion, each of the proposed new .biz, .info, and .org registry agreements provide for the lifting of price controls formerly imposed on the pricing of registry services. However, in order to protect incumbent domain name registrants and allow time for planning by those in the registry and registrar communities, the form of registry-registrar agreement proposed with each of the new registry agreements requires six months advance notice by the registry operator of any price increase in registry services. This is consistent with the notice period required under the registry-registrar agreement implemented with the 2005 .net registry agreement, and the registry-registrar agreement included with the proposed new .com registry agreement.”
So what does this mean? Basically, if the agreement goes into effect, the three registries can charge whatever they like, not just across the board, but on an individual basis. In researching the agreement, George Kirikos contacted Vint Cerf of ICANN, who confirmed “that differential/tiered pricing on a domain-by-domain basis would not be forbidden under the .biz/.info/.org proposed contracts.”
This has several implications. Let’s start with an example of tiered pricing that already exists, the .tv domain. Though it’s a country code, it’s administered by a company that knows how to make the most of the fact that TV is also an abbreviation for television. Certain domain names under .tv rate premium pricing. For example, as of this writing, “crazy.tv” is available for $3,000 per year, “bible.tv” is up for grabs for $5,000 a year, and “history.tv” will set you back a whopping $30,000 per year!
It’s easy to argue that domain name owners will have six months warning, at which time they can lock in the old prices for ten years. But how many small businesses (or hobbyists!) have the money on hand to register their domain names for ten years at a time? And even if they did, what are they going to do at the end of the 10 years when the price goes up to something they can’t afford?
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