Critics Blast ICANN Proposed Registry Agreements - A Deeper Look at the Price Cap Removal
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As Kirikos and other commentators correctly point out, the three registries could now set higher prices on a case-by-case basis, with any number of strange motivations. The example he gives is of PIR wanting to eliminate pornography from the .org registry, and suddenly deciding to charge a billion dollars a year to renew certain domain names. “Who will stand against that as ‘we’re protecting the internet and children from porn,’ PIR might argue?” Kirikos suggested.
But why stop there? What if there’s a .org site that promotes racial discrimination? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to charge it more? Or what about a .org site that advocates capital punishment? Sooner or later you slide from the truly reprehensible to the politically stifling. Isn’t the Internet supposed to be accessible to everyone?
Of course, it’s far more likely that the registries, as the only game in town for those particular domains, will use their ability to charge whatever they want to milk large corporations. Any idea what Google might pay to hold onto google.biz if it had to? No telling, but it’s a fair bet that this is one reason the search engine giant is fighting the phone and cable companies to avoid tiered pricing for websites. Apparently the issue of net neutrality applies in a number of places.
This brings us to the most painful point of the provision. If these registries are going to be free to charge more to large corporations, these businesses, in effect, will be paying a penalty for being successful. With the presumptive renewal clause, there will be no way the corporations can get around it – because unlike registrars, a registry is the only game in town for that particular domain.
It’s worth noting (as Kirikos did) that ICANN’s own lawyers have said that, in a single supplier market, price caps are pro competitive (see this response to CFIT litigation, page 6 of the pdf). As we all know, ICANN is charged with promoting competition. Therefore, if price caps are pro competitive in a single supplier market, why is ICANN lifting the price caps on the .biz, .org and .info registries? Those registries are still the only suppliers of those top level domains. ICANN can’t have its cake and eat it too.
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