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Verisign Gets .COM Forever, But ICANN Gets a Lobbyist

John Levine

A press release on the ICANN web site says that ICANN and Verisign have agreed to settle all pending lawsuits, and there's a new .COM agreement, all tentative but if history is any guide, nothing short of DOC action is going to stop it.

The good news is that VeriSign has agreed not to make unilateral changes like Sitefinder. They have to give prior notice to ICANN for any material change in the operation of the registry, and if ICANN has any concerns there's a lengthy process full of expert panels and Consensus and the like to decide whether they can do it. They agree to treat all registrars the same, not to own more than 15% of any registrar, and a long laundry list of things to prevent favoritism.

In the settlement agreement, VeriSign also agrees to:

reiterate its support for ICANN as the appropriate technical coordination body for the DNS, in particular with respect to Internet domain names, IP address numbers, root server system management functions, and protocol parameter and port numbers. VeriSign also agrees that it will continue to be an advocate for the private sector solution to the coordination of Internet names and addresses, including (without limitation) that VeriSign will advocate ICANN's appropriate role in that process.

Or to put it in practical terms, they'll lobby for ICANN at WSIS, which is good news for ICANN if not necessarily for the world at large.

The bad news is that the new .COM agreement gives the .COM registry to VeriSign until 2012, with automatic renewals forever unless they go bankrupt or materially breach the agreement. The registry fee, now $6, can increase 7% per year. The ICANN fee, currently 25 cents, jumps to 37 cents on 1 Jan, to 45 cents on 1 Jul, and 50 cents on 1 July 2007, the revenue to be used for a list of virtuous causes including anything ICANN wants to use it for. I guess this means I don't have to worry about flying coach to ICANN meetings. 

By John Levine, Author, Consultant & Speaker. More blog posts from John Levine can also be read here.

Related topics: DNS, Domain Names, Registry Services, ICANN, Top-Level Domains

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Comments

Re: Verisign Gets .COM Forever, But ICANN Gets a Lobbyist Rob Hall  –  Oct 25, 2005 8:25 AM PST

You have an error in your calculation.

The 37 cents that ICANN gets, rising to 50 cents, is ON TOP OF the current 25 cents that Registrars pay to ICANN.

So for each domain year, ICANN will get 37+25 or 62 cents immediately upon the signing of the agreement.

ICANN just basically increased their budget by about 12 million per year.

Re: Verisign Gets .COM Forever, But ICANN Gets a Lobbyist John Levine  –  Oct 25, 2005 1:17 PM PST

Oh, look at that. Section 7.2(e) keeps the existing Variable Registry-Level Fee at 15 cents plus a per registrar fee which doubtless adds up to the 25 cents.

So you're right, ICANN will be tripling the fee to 75 cents by the end of 2006.  Maybe I should charter my own plane to meetings.

Re: Verisign Gets .COM Forever, But ICANN Gets a Lobbyist Ross Rader  –  Oct 26, 2005 9:52 AM PST

Don't forget the 7% annual price increase. My math shows the price for a .com as being somewhere north of $12 by 2012.

Re: Verisign Gets .COM Forever, But ICANN Gets a Lobbyist Larry Seltzer  –  Oct 27, 2005 11:40 AM PST

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me from the agreement (http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/verisign/com-registry-agreement-22sep05.pdf) that the ICANN and Verisign fees are recurring annual charges (and you also incur the ICANN fees for a domain transfer).

This is a little embarassing, but I have to admit I've never actually administered and operated the largest root domain in the world myself. Is this the sort of business that should justify 7% annual increases?

Re: Verisign Gets .COM Forever, But ICANN Gets a Lobbyist John Levine  –  Oct 27, 2005 12:37 PM PST

Yes indeed, they are recurring annual fees. You can prepay up to 10 years at the current rate.

As others have pointed out, Tucows informally offered to run .COM with a $2 fee, and Afilias in the .NET tender offered to run .NET for $3.25/domain/year, so it is hard to imagine what about .COM would cost $6, and even harder to imagine what would require a cost increase since computers and networks continue to get cheaper.

So if the question is, is this a blatant sellout to Verisign that ignores the interests of the broader Internet community, you can draw your own conclusions.

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