01 July 2016

ICANN Finally Publishes Verisign .COM Extension Agreement & RZMA

With the U.S. heading into a 3-4 day holiday break--Fourth of July a/k/a Independence Day--ICANN published Thursday, June 30, 2016, for review and comment, First Amendment to the .COM Registry Agreement (extension), as well as the new Root Zone Maintainer Agreement (RZMA). Verisign has been maintainer of the global internet root zone under an agreement with the U.S. government (NTIA) but that will be replaced by the new RZMA between Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN), and ICANN, a California corporation which will be an unregulated global monopoly after September 30, 2016, in accordance with the Obama administration's IANA transition plans announced March 14, 2014.

Verisign is the registry operator of gTLD (generic top-level domain) .COM, one of the internet's original gTLDs (originally administered by the U.S. Department of Defense), and today the market dominant leader and largest TLD in the world. Verisign is also operator of two of the global internet's thirteen root name servers, and provides registry services for other TLDs (top-level domains), including the second-largest gTLD, .NET, and the U.S. government's .GOV. Under the terms of the new RZMA, Verisign, which was previously unpaid for its RZM services, will now be paid $25,000 per month (see Schedule 3, p. 36 of 47 in the RZMA embed below).

Both the .COM extension and RZMA agreement, as published June 30th by ICANN, are embedded below. Verisign is limited on what it can charge for .COM registrations and renewals by the terms of Amendment 32 (pdf) to the Cooperative Agreement between Verisign and NTIA, which expires November 30, 2018, unless extended (and NTIA has not indicated whether it will be extended and on what terms):
"The Maximum Price charged by VeriSign for registration or renewal of a .com domain name during the term of the .com Registry Agreement approved hereby shall not exceed US $7.85; provided, however, that VeriSign shall, be entitled to increases in the Maximum Price in accordance with Section 7.3( d)(ii) of the .com'Registry Agreement; provided further that VeriSign shall not exercise such right unless the Department provides prior written approval that the exercise of such right will serve the public interest, such approval not to be unreasonably withheld."
Under the current ICANN .COM Registry Agreement with Verisign (Section 7.3 Pricing for Domain Name Registrations and Registry Services):
"(d) Maximum Price. The Maximum Price for Registry Services subject to this Section 7.3 shall be as follows: (i) from the Effective Date through 30 November 2018, US $7.85; (ii) Registry Operator shall be entitled to increase the Maximum Price during the term of the Agreement due to the imposition of any new Consensus Policy or documented extraordinary expense resulting from an attack or threat of attack on the Security or Stability of the DNS, not to exceed the smaller of the preceding year's Maximum Price or the highest price charged during the preceding year, multiplied by 1.07." 
The .COM extension agreement (embed below) in substance only extends the .COM Registry Agreement through November 30, 2024. However it does contain this language:
2. Future Amendments. The parties shall cooperate and negotiate in good faith to amend the terms of the Agreement (a) by the second anniversary of the Effective Date, [2018] to preserve and enhance the security and stability of the Internet or the TLD, and (b) as may be necessary for consistency with changes to, or the termination or expiration of, the Cooperative Agreement between Registry Operator and the Department of Commerce. (emphasis added)
The term of the RZMA (embed below) is eight years, which means it will also end in 2024.

Additional Information:
• Public Comment on Proposed Amendment to .COM Registry Agreement | ICANN.orgClose Date 12 Aug 2016 23:59 UTC - Comments forum (there is already one objecting comment filed).
Root Zone Management Transition Update | ICANN.org: blog post by Akram Atallah, ICANN Global Domains Division President, June 28, 2016.

First Amendment to .COM Registry Agreement (pdf) embed below (highlighting added):


Root Zone Maintainer Service Agreement [RZMA] (pdf) embed below (highlighting added):


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