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Re: [soac-newgtldapsup-wg] First JAS WG call - follow-up

  • To: Tijani BEN JEMAA <tijani.benjemaa@xxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Re: [soac-newgtldapsup-wg] First JAS WG call - follow-up
  • From: Evan Leibovitch <evan@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 4 May 2010 10:58:32 -0400

On 4 May 2010 05:12, Tijani BEN JEMAA <tijani.benjemaa@xxxxxxxx> wrote:

As per the Board resolution, we are asked to develop a sustainable approach
> to providing support to new gTLD applicants requiring assistance in applying
> for and operating new gTLDS. One of the possible ways to provide support to
> apply for a new gTLD is to reduce the application fees.

Agreed. This is neither outside the scope of the board mandate NOR the GNSO

The has been a long-standing position of At-Large that an overly broad
'cost recovery' mandate has enabled ICANN staff to include in the gTLD fees
many expenses that are not incurred by the real-time application process. It
includes "historical" costs to enable ICANN to recover policy-development
expenses of its own making -- expenses that should, theoretically, rise
every month as ICANN expends more resources on new gTLDs before earning one
cent. This means that the "cost recovery" includes, for instance, the cost
of the opaque, poorly-conceived and ultimately disgraced IRT committee -- as
well as the cost (in both money and time) of replacing it.

 It is reasonable to assert that future TLD applicants should not have to
pay for historic inefficiencies or poor decisions by staff, and that ICANN
should not be rewarded for such behaviour. If you allow that "cost recovery"
means specifically covering the direct expense of evaluation and setup of
the specific application, the current fee structure can be reduced sharply
while maintaining fidelity to the mandates.

(It is also here where we can establish that certain "low risk"
applications, such as uncontested community TLDs, will incur less cost to
process and thus may be entitled to lower registration costs)

Compounding the false calculation of cost recovery is the
rarely-stated-publicly but common sentiment (I have heard it frequently in
informal conversation) that the current high cost, even if totally
arbitrary, is a good technique for keeping out applicants that may not have
the financial stability to maintain the TLD. If you can't afford $185K, the
theory goes, how will your registry afford all the ongoing operational and
compliance expenses that will occur if registration volume doesn't meet

I personally find such logic unacceptable but we will still need to answer
it. Wanting to lower the cost of applications does not absolve ICANN's need
to reasonably ensure the sustainability of registries. While acknowledging
the realities of the free market and that some of these new registries
*will* fail, we need to have some checks, balances, and appropriate
contingencies in place.  While that itself is out of scope of our work, I
think it is necessary for us to recommend to ICANN that effective policies
in this area are essential.

I am personally in favour of lowered fees for certain kinds of registries
rather than subsidies and other forms of arbitrary charity. The first is a
policy that applies to all and based on policy, the second's availability is
dependent on outside factors (ie, how many auctions have there been in a
given year?) and frequent changes to its "implementation details". This is
also a matter of attitude. As a matter of publicly-minded policy ICANN
should not make the emergence of culturally valuable TLDs -- especially
non-profits -- dependent on the volatile handouts of others.

- Evan

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