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New gTLD Applicant Guidebook Comments

  • To: 5gtld-guide@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: New gTLD Applicant Guidebook Comments
  • From: Paul Foody <paulfoody@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2011 02:10:23 -0800

Dear Sirs 

I thank ICANN for this opportunity to take advantage of its mechanism for 
public comment to offer my opinion on its latest “Proposed Final Version” of 
the Guidebook

ICANN claims, in its Preamble to this latest version that the new gTLD program 
will “foster diversity, encourage competition and enhance the utility of the 
DNS”.  However, if the new gTLD program progresses as proposed, all these 
claims will be proven false.  

The proposed new gTLD program will do no more than replicate the DotCom domain 
structure at the Top Level thereby increasing the price of an internet presence 
from the $10 per annum cost today for a DotCom domain to millions of dollars 
for a TLD “domain” with only the same exposure.  Accordingly, in view of the 
Sydney 2009 comments of ICANN economist, Steve Salop, that the key to 
competition is low entry costs, the massively increased cost of a new gTLD 
internet presence will significantly reduce competition.  Furthermore, since, 
in addition to the prohibitive cost, companies will have to demonstrate legal 
rights to TLDs, despite such rights for generic terms being non-existent, 
ownership of new TLDs will be limited largely to those companies employing 
teams of IP lawyers, thus reducing diversity.

As for enhancing the utility of the DNS a domain name is simply a pointer to an 
IP address and as such is nothing more than a marketing tool which cannot 
enhance the utility of the DNS, other than the extent to which the new gTLD 
program will ensure a massive transfer of wealth from existing registrants to 
ICANN insiders.

ICANN claims to be an open and transparent body however the extent to which 
ICANN appears willing to mislead the general public is clearly illustrated by 
the latest Guidebook. 

Under subsection, entitled Initial Evaluation, the guidebook states, 
“The annual delegation rate will not exceed 1,000 per year in any case, no 
matter how many applications are received.”  This clause, according to ICANN’s 
new gTLD spokesman, Kurt Pritz, is what will ensure that the million name root, 
a fraction of which would comfortably enable the effective replication of the 
DotCom registry at the Top Level, will not be allowed to happen.

However, just 11 pages later, under subsection 1.1.6, “Subsequent Application 
Rounds”, the guidebook states that, ICANN’s goal is to launch subsequent gTLD 
application rounds as quickly as possible.  The exact timing will be based on 
experiences gained and changes required after this round is completed.. The 
goal is for the next application round to begin within one year of the close of 
the application submission period for the initial round.”  

Since subsection has no timeframe attached to it, Applicant Guidebooks 
for subsequent rounds will be able to dictate their own delegation rates and 
limits, if any limits are to apply at all.

Accordingly, despite ICANN’s insistence that the “annual delegation rate” will 
be limited to “1,000 per year in any case, no matter how many applications are 
received” it is their stated goal that such a limit will apply for a period of 
less even than one year, let alone the period of several years that the term 
“annual” is usually interpreted as referring to. 

Additionally, the speed with which ICANN intends starting the second round 
completely prevents any worthwhile examination of the effects of newly 
delegated gTLDs.

Taken together, rather than guarding against a million name root, the two 
clauses effectively guarantee the DotCom replication at Top Level because at 
least some of those 1,000 new TLDs delegated within the first year will be 
Company Brand TLDs and as they are likely to include amongst them some of the 
world’s best known companies, the key element of the domain name will move from 
the left of the DotCom to the right of the Dot.   Furthermore, once even one 
company is allowed its own branded TLD, competition laws dictate that every 
other company meeting the relevant criteria will have to be given the same 

Accordingly, this Guidebook is nothing less than the Expression of Interest 
document called for in Seoul and rejected in Nairobi and it will ensure every 
worthwhile TLD has been registerered by ICANN insiders before the general 
public is even aware of what it is going on, despite the extent to which that 
completely contravenes the Affirmation of Commitments.

I first voiced my belief that the new gTLD program is nothing less than an 
attempt to replicate the DotCom registry at the TLD level, to enable the 
transfer of the internet’s $100 trillion value from its current owners, 
predominantly the individuals and small businesses, many of which are north 
American based, comprising the 85 million or so DotCom registrants, to ICANN 
insiders for a tiny fraction of that value in Mexico in March 2009. 

Given ICANN Board member Harold Alvestrand’s comments, first in Seoul of 
October 2009, that the single component domain name is where the internet is 
headed and his subsequent clarification, in Brussels June 2010, that such an 
eventuality would be a very bad thing, it appalls me that this latest document 
contained nothing to prevent the TLD DotCom replication from becoming fact, 
especially since ICANN has still to commission the promised economic study into 
the likely impact of such a radical change.

However, what appalls me even more is that ICANN, even if their substantial 
annual retainer of external legal advisors did not extend to advice on this 
latest version of the gTLD guidebook, is able to release a document that 
includes a sentence, such as that under subsection which appears to 
have been included solely to mislead those reading it, especially since ICANN 
has numerous lawyers on its staff and no less than four lawyers on its board.

Given the above and my prior comments at the microphone in Cartagena it remains 
my opinion that ICANN has no alternative but to completely abandon the new gTLD 
program as currently proposed and instead devise a new program, one of 
categories, that will meet both the purpose for which ICANN was initially set 
up and all the requirements of the Affirmation of Commitments.

Hoping my comments have not “driven away competent entrants” and will be 
considered as more than “complete rubbish” by ICANN board members, both current 
and recently retired.

Yours faithfully

Paul Foody

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