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NetChoice questions and suggestions

  • To: <irtp-draft-report@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: NetChoice questions and suggestions
  • From: Steve DelBianco <sdelbianco@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 06 May 2009 19:06:50 -0400

NetChoice comment on draft report of the Implementation Recommendation Team
First, the IRT should know that its significant efforts in a concentrated
time period are acknowledged and appreciated.   The IRT has truly taken-up
the ?heavy lifting¹ problems  associated with launching new TLDs and
stopping the abusive registrations and fraud that are undermining consumer
confidence in the Internet.
Second, I would ask the IRT to explore and explain its recommendations for
how these new rights protection mechanisms (RPMs) should affect the broader
universe of TLDs ­ not just the new gTLDs.
Would the IRT recommend that these mechanisms be imposed on existing TLDs,
whether as part of consensus policies or as part of the renewal/re-bid
process when current contracts expire? ICANN is a private-sector
organization that relies upon contracts to effect policy, so contracted
parties need to know when and how their businesses could be impacted.
Would the IRT recommend these rights protection mechanisms be required of
ccTLD registries?  Many new ccTLDs will be launched using IDN scripts,
probably before new gTLDs are even out of the gate.  But due to their legacy
status, ccTLDs exist in a parallel universe at ICANN and few have agreed to
live by ICANN policies.
It would indeed be ironic if ccTLDs were not part of the discussion of
rights protection when we gather in Sydney, since most Australian Internet
users and registrants are more familiar with .au than with gTLDs.   Consumer
fraud and cybersquatting are prevalent in the ccTLD space and it would be
appropriate to include the ccNSO in discussions of new rights protection
measures that may eventually apply there as well.
Finally, I believe all of us need to be realistic about the cost
implications of the IRT¹s proposed RPMs.

It¹s almost certain that these proposed mechanisms will increase the price
that registrants pay for second-level domains.  The last item in the IRT
benchmarking checklist on page 3 asks the right question: ?what are the
costs and who pays them.¹   While it may not be able to completely answer
that question, the IRT would do well to articulate some principles and
manage expectations about new costs.
One principle might hold that new RPMs be self-funded.  The IRT
recommendations mention fees for some mechanisms, but its not clear whether
fees would be set to cover all costs of operating services such as the IP
Clearinghouse , IP Claims, Sunrise restrictions, and thick Whois.

If fees won¹t be enough to cover costs, the IRT should set expectations that
new costs would be passed along to registrants, whether through fees charged
to contract parties or through explicit add-on fees charged by ICANN.  New
costs may well be justified to make the DNS more safe and stable, but
registrants may appreciate knowing about new costs and fees through better
disclosures on their domain registration invoices.
Another way to manage expectations of the ICANN community is to explain how
these new RPMs would affect the pricing proposed by new TLD applicants.  We
all expect that the RPMs will decrease the necessity and expense of
defensive registrations.  We also expect that far fewer domains will be
registered by cyber-squatters and those with deceptive intentions.

As a result, aspiring new TLD applicants need to revise their business plans
-- by raising operating costs and lowering revenue from defensive
registrations.   Faced with these revised profit expectations, some
applicants will decide not to launch their new TLDs. Others will apply
nonetheless, but we should expect that they¹ll increase domain prices for
those legitimate registrants who come to their TLDs.

Steve DelBianco
Executive Director
NetChoice Coalition
1401 K St NW
Washington, DC 20005
www.netchoice.org <http://www.netchoice.org>   

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