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President of BuyDomains.com Responds to WLS Issue

Right now a person invents and registers a domain and must pay a yearly fee to a registrar (that registrar is supposed to have the right to compete). The registrar then has to pay their competitor (the registry Verisign monopoly) $6 as agreed to by ICANN and the Dept of Commerce. This would be fair so far if there was not a monopoly on the back end Registry. Each registrar does in fact get to play in this scenario. Now if the registrant chooses not to renew their domain after it expires the name ceases to exist by default, since it's not legal if unpaid. THERE IS NO SCENARIO WHEREIN THE GOVERNMENT EVER CONTEMPLATED VERISIGN OWNING OR CONTROLLING THIS DOMAIN INVENTED BY A COMMON CONSUMER, ONCE EXPIRED, AS THE WLS ATTEMPTS.

Once it ceases to exist, according to the years long practice of being deleted, it is then available to be "re-invented" and re-registered. Any registrar is supposed to have the right to register any domain that is not currently owned by someone else including all the ones that once existed. There is absolutely no excuse for the name to revert to Verisign for them to resell to the market at massively inflated rates - and obviously it breaches current government agreements for it to be over $6 in any case.

The current drop system is very fair. Every ICANN registrar gets the exact same number of connections and has an equal chance of getting a name for any of their customers who request the purchase. There are ample resources, funds, and profits at Verisign to support the existing structure. As proposed, the current systems will still exist in parallel with the WLS, and the vast majority of names would be purchased at the former since they are less expensive. In justifying the WLS, Verisign has claimed they seek to cut the costs of the Registry systems. Are they now saying running two systems in parallel will be less expensive than one? If it is less expensive then why an increase in prices?

They already appear inept at running the current system even with about $180 Million a year in Registry revenue, most of which is likely profits. Should they now get to take another market without the explicit approval of the Commerce Department, who originally only authorized a $6 fee and thereby attempted to control the monopoly? Did Verisign offer to let another company control the WLS in the name of the "fairness" they pretend to be concerned with? Why should Verisign be the monopolist of the WLS as opposed to a competitor?

Also the Verisign Registrar is the current registrar of record for the vast majority of names being deleted due to the 20 Million plus legacy domains inherited from their former NSI monopoly. They control and are the only ones who know when these 20 million domains are going to be deleted (if ever) and therefore have an unfair advantage in selling WLS subscriptions via their Registrar (the other side of their hollow Chinese wall).

Illegally Selling Options Contracts:

Also disturbing is that the WLS ultimately proposes selling an option on someone else's property there is oftentimes no service even performed if the name is renewed by its owner. I imagine Verisign will get sued by many companies who didn't appreciate their property being auctioned off while they were still a domain customer in paid status and in good standing, especially considering the pitiful state of Verisign's domain records which cause thousands of paid-for domains to be deleted by mistake every month. All the while Verisign proposes to take money on any given domain three or more times plus all the yearly renewals once from the current registrant (about $70 if its their customer and about $12 if its their competitors customer) and a second payment of $20-$30 from whoever gets on the "waiting list" through their registrar of choice. And actually a third time if the target domain is deleted via the WLS process and turns in to a new registration That would be yet another $6-12 for their Registry and another $35-70 if it's the Verisgn Registar's customer. Then the cycle can repeat itself endlessly if someone else places a WLS subscription.

ICANN:

The ICANN process itself is rife with conflicts of interest. In the WLS process the voting members have abdicated their responsibility to protect consumers and Verisign competitors. The concept of a fair process went down the tubes with the aggressive flow of Verisign money and power, the collapse of ICANN itself, and the inability for the small competitors to afford millions of dollars of legal counsel, PR, and expensive coalition relationships. Not to mention the employees of these small companies have to work hard at their core business every day just to hope to survive leaving little time for lawyers and rubbing elbows with politicians, which seems to be required to get anything accomplished in the domain space rules, laws, and agreements are being set aside in order for the powerful to get their wishes.

ICANN is in collusion on the issue as well because they folded at the pressure of their main financial benefactor (Verisign) weeks after having publicly declared they did not have the resources to fulfill their mandate. The Registrars Constituency, that everyone thought had huge weight on this matter, was totally ignored. More than a 2/3 majority voted against the WLS yet the ICANN board was able to ignore this fact. Moreover the few registrars who voted for the WLS could almost all be linked as business partners of (or 100% owned by) Verisign and SnapNames. We also don't know the details of Verisign/Snap relationships with the other people who voted on the ICANN panel.

We firmly believe that the government, ICANN, competitors, and consumers must be assertive in preventing this illegitimate service from ever reaching market before further harm is done to domain consumers.

By Michael Mann, President
Related topics: DNS, ICANN
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Re: President of BuyDomains.com Responds to WLS Issue RationalRose  –  Oct 14, 2006 5:35 AM PDT

Incredible, buydomains.com are asking me $5,500 for a domain which should have been released for free registration. A new organisation should be set up to replace worthless ICANN who should be preventing such practices. Why-o-why is the entire internet owned by the USA who obviously only know how to rip people off ???

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