2014-08-12

VeriSign .COM Registry Agreement, What Happens After November 2018?

Bar Chart comparison of Number of Domain Names Registered at top 20 gTLDs - August 8, 2014
Registrations per Top 20 gTLDs - August 8, 2014
How dominant is Verisign's .COM Top-Level Domain (TLD)? Look at the chart at right of the top 20 gTLDs -- at scale most other gTLDs (generic Top-Level Domains) don't even "show up." Just check the stats at RegistrarStats.

VeriSign - The Misunderstood Monopoly - VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRSN) | Seeking Alpha: "Continuity, Exclusivity, and Profitability of .com Registry Agreement: In 2000, VRSN [VeriSign] acquired the core registry functions that would form the basis for VRSN's registry services division. The .com Registry Agreement (Agreement) is a periodically renewed contract between VRSN, ICANN, and the United States Department of Commerce. The last iteration of the Agreement was signed on November 29, 2012 and provides the following key points: VRSN will remain the exclusive registry operator for domain names in the .com TLD through November 30, 2018. The price of a .com domain name shall not exceed $7.85 for the term of the Agreement. Just in case the other terms weren't favorable enough, VRSN and their lawyers have seemingly managed to effectuate this Agreement into perpetuity... VRSN's exclusive monopoly on .com registration will remain in place unless 1) a court or arbitrator rules that VRSN has defaulted on their part of the Agreement; AND 2) despite said ruling, VRSN still fails to take steps necessary to fix their default!...."

OK, the Verisign .com Registry Agreement is an "exclusive monopoly"--that is why we need regulation of dot com registration and renewal fees. As Versign's Founder, Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President D. James Bidzos said on July 24, 2014-- ".com, which is really sort of a well-known place where people register domain names for business"--the dot com extension is unique and in a category by itself. Just how dominant is dot COM among ALL domain name extensions? Look at the graphic above again. Adding to the possible future conflicts of interest at play here--Verisign is the root zone administrator under agreements with the US government and ICANN (for which Verisign currently receives no fee).

The Verisign dot Com agreement is actually two agreements: one with ICANN; and the other with the US Department of Commerce which is the one that limits the Verisign dot Com fees as set forth above. And we know from experience just how inept and incompetent ICANN is in regard to domain name registrants and registration fees. [See also: ICANN, New gTLD Domain Name Renewal Fees, Price Gouging]

The QUESTION everybody is dodging

So THE QUESTION everybody [from Verisign to Larry Strickling/US Department of Commerce to Fadi ChehadĂ©/ICANN to the Internet Commerce Association] is dodging: what happens after November 30, 2018, to .COM registration fees if the United States Department of Commerce has completed its IANA functions transition?

*If you think the IANA functions transition does NOT affect US oversight of .com, you better think again:
IANA Functions and Related Root Zone Management Transition Questions and Answers | NTIA: "....Q. Are the legacy top level domains associated with U.S. Government (e.g., .mil., .gov, .edu) part of this transition? A. No, the operation of and responsibility for the three remaining legacy top level domains associated with the U.S. Government specifically .mil, .gov, and .edu are not impacted by this transition as they are not part of the IANA and related root zone management functions." [no mention of .com, .net, .org]





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