[bc-gnso] RE: Important--Registry Registrar Separation issue

Mike Rodenbaugh mike at rodenbaugh.com
Fri Jul 31 20:24:41 UTC 2009

We do not require an open comment period in order to debate a topic and come
to a position as a Consitituency.  I have been asked by several people
whether the BC is going to comment.  The issue is generally open for
discussion after the Sydney meeting where it was a focus of discussion.  

The next formal opportunity might be in comment to the next iteration of the
Draft Applicant Guidebook, probably in late September.  But Staff could
prepare a paper in the meanwhile, and certainly is discussing this issue
internally in regards to the next Guidebook draft.  They might care what we
I thought the issue was important to discuss, and hadn't seen that
discussion happen.  If any consensus comes of it, we can consider if anyone
wants to draft a position.  I do not have any conflict of interest in this
issue.  Any interest I have is disclosed in my statement of interest (which
has not changed for more than a year).  If that changes, I will post to this

There is nothing wrong with new registries withholding valuable domain
names, auctioning them, developing them, or otherwise exploiting them.  The
alternative is that a few registrar conglomerates and sophisticated
domainers get the bulk of them during the first ten minutes of landrush.  I
do not think that is an issue of consumer harm or antitrust, it is simply

Between the two groups, new registry operators should get the rewards of
investing in the registry, and so should be able to do anything they like
with the names in that registry, subject to minimum anti-abuse standards and
contract compliance.   Accredited registrars are free to offer available
registrations under the registry policies, or not at all.  Registries can
adopt virtually any policies they want, so long as they are fair and not
excluded by contract, consensus policy or law.

Is this controversial?  The concepts have been embodied in the GNSO policies
and Draft Applicant Guidebook for a long time.

The question now is whether registrars should be free to become registries
and vice versa?  At all?  So long as they don't sell more than a very small
number of registrations to the public in that TLD?  Without restriction?  It
is time the rules were set, one way or another.  I would prefer that the BC
adds our voice to the debate, since that is our purpose.

Mike Rodenbaugh
Rodenbaugh Law
548 Market Street
San Francisco, CA  94104

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-bc-gnso at icann.org [mailto:owner-bc-gnso at icann.org] On Behalf Of
Michael D. Palage
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 12:14 PM
To: 'Michael Ward'; 'Mike O'Connor'; 'BC gnso'
Subject: RE: [bc-gnso] RE: Important--Registry Registrar Separation issue


You raise an interesting point. If there is a lack of consensus (divergence
of opinions) shouldn't the BC then be arguing against the unilateral changes
ICANN is proposing in removing these safeguards, i.e. no changes in the
status quo until there is a consensus.

I find it odd that ICANN is proposing changes that really were developed in
exclusive consultation with the contracting parties.  Does that not bother
you in the slightest?

Best regards,

Michael P

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-bc-gnso at icann.org [mailto:owner-bc-gnso at icann.org] On Behalf Of
Michael Ward
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 2:34 PM
To: 'Michael D. Palage'; 'Mike O'Connor'; 'BC gnso'
Subject: RE: [bc-gnso] RE: Important--Registry Registrar Separation issue


>From my perspective, I don't think that there is unanimous position within
the BC constituency on this issue to be able to comment on it at this time.

Mike R. -- you stated that you have been asked to see if the BC has a view
on this.  Was that individual who asked you part of the BC or somebody else?

Somewhat interesting that at this stage, over 1 month after the site
referenced below was launched, there are only 25 people who have stated on
the site that they 'support the letter'. Just an observation.


Michael Ward

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-bc-gnso at icann.org [mailto:owner-bc-gnso at icann.org] On Behalf Of
Michael D. Palage
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 1:56 PM
To: 'Mike O'Connor'; 'BC gnso'
Subject: RE: [bc-gnso] RE: Important--Regsitry Registrar Separation issue


Not to sound like an attorney but please read the ICANN proposal "fine
print". Under the current proposal a Registrar would be able to register up
to 100,000 in a TLD in which they or an affiliate were the registry
operator. Do you want to take a bet on what percentage of those 100,000 with
be premium generics?

"With a limited exception, a registrar should not sell domain services of an
affiliated registry. This limit is set to a certain threshold, in this
model, 100,000 domain names. (The registrar may continue to manage its
existing base of registrations once the threshold is met)" See

Best regards,


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-bc-gnso at icann.org [mailto:owner-bc-gnso at icann.org] On Behalf Of
Mike O'Connor
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 1:22 PM
To: BC gnso
Subject: Re: [bc-gnso] RE: Important--Regsitry Registrar Separation issue

hi all,

i don't feel very strongly about this.  times have changed from the days
when there was one monopoly provider being broken up.  now there are lots of
strong/capable entities that have the income statement, technical expertise
and customer-facing capabilities to run registrars and registries.

so i'm not sure we need to throw our collective body on the tracks in the
way of that train.  especially when they're saying that a registrar can't be
a registry for the same TLD.

my 2 cents,


On Jul 30, 2009, at 3:43 PM, Mike Rodenbaugh wrote:

> I sent this around about five weeks ago, and other than George I do 
> not believe anyone has commented.  I have been asked if the BC has a 
> view on this issue.  It seems like a big issue with respect to new 
> TLDs, and could be retroapplied to existing TLDs.  Does anyone else 
> care?
> My view is that the proponents of the change (abolishing the 
> longstanding rule of separation) ought to have a fairly heavy burden 
> to prove the need for the change.  I have not seen a very good case 
> for it, and think the www.registryregistrarseparation.org website 
> presents a compelling case against it.  I also am bothered that Staff 
> seemed to unilaterally incorporate such a radical change into the 
> Draft Applicant Guidebook, without any formal direction to do so.  So 
> I hope they change it back in the next iteration, due in September.  
> If the BC is fairly unanimous on this issue, then I would like us to 
> make comments to that effect very soon.
> Please let me know what you think.
> I summarized the factual situation in a recent blog post on
> NameSmash.com:
> ICANN was formed eleven years ago, when the .com 'monopoly' was broken 
> apart.
> At that time, Network Solutions was the sole registry and registrar of 
> gTLD domain names.  ICANN created the system we have today, where 
> registrants place orders with ICANN-accredited registrars, who in turn 
> place the orders with ICANN-contracted TLD registries, many of which 
> use the back-end services of third party registry operators.  It was 
> thought that this system would increase competition for the suppliers 
> of domain names, and thus lower prices for registrants.  It is hard to 
> argue that this has not held true, insofar as the price of .com domain 
> names has dropped dramatically in that time (but is now allowed to 
> rise again by 7% almost every year, under the
> 2006 agreement between ICANN and VeriSign).
> To ensure this structure held, ICANN restricted registries from 
> acquiring directly or indirectly a substantial percentage of any 
> registrar, so
> VeriSign cannot buy a controlling interest in GoDaddy, for example.   
> Some of
> the largest registrars have become registry operators which also 
> register those TLD names to the public.  For example GoDaddy provides 
> the registry
> for country-code .me (so Montenegro makes the rules, not ICANN).   
> Other
> large registrars, such as Network Solutions and eNom, now are pressing 
> ICANN to eliminate the restrictions on registry-registrar cross 
> ownership of gTLD registries, so that those registrars can compete as 
> registry businesses, sell new gTLD domains directly to the public, and 
> sell them to all other ICANN accredited registrars as well.
> Existing registry operators, such as NeuStar (.biz), Public Interest 
> Registry (.org) and others, are in support of any entity becoming a 
> registry or registry operator, so long as that entity does not 
> distribute domain names in the same TLD that they operate as a 
> registry.  They are fighting this new proposal on the basis that 
> registrars have a substantial head start in marketing domain names to 
> the public, and thus can offer prime distribution opportunities to new 
> registries.  These registries and registry operators argue that 
> allowing cross ownership would put them at a competitive disadvantage 
> in convincing new TLD operators to use their back-end services.
> On the other hand, some large registrars argue that no registrar or 
> registry business -- other than VeriSign with .com and .net -- has any 
> 'market power'
> which can be exploited for anti-competitive purposes, and thus they 
> ought not be regulated by cross-ownership restrictions.  They note 
> that, absent proven 'market power', it is in consumers' interests to 
> allow cross-ownership because it will bring operational efficiencies 
> and lower prices to the marketplace.  The registries counter that a 
> number registrars do in fact have market power in deciding which TLDs 
> to promote, and how.
> They argue that a registrar that owns a registry will choose to 
> promote its own cross-owned TLDs over any non-affiliated TLD, thereby 
> actually reducing competition.
> A public comment forum concerning antitrust experts' reports on this 
> issue has recently closed, 
> http://forum.icann.org/lists/competition-pricing-final/, and ICANN 
> staff is expected to make recommendations which then will be subject 
> to further public debate and comment before the next iteration of the 
> new TLD Applicant Guidebook, expected in late September.
> Mike Rodenbaugh
> Rodenbaugh Law
> 548 Market Street
> San Francisco, CA  94104
> +1.415.738.8087
> www.rodenbaugh.com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mike Rodenbaugh [mailto:mike at rodenbaugh.com]
> Sent: Saturday, June 20, 2009 12:39 AM
> To: bc-gnso at icann.org
> Subject: FW: Important--Regsitry Registrar Separation issue
> FYI the site at www.registryregistrarseparation.org.  I know this 
> issue is of serious concern to many members.
> Adam Palmer and Jeff Neuman have agree to present briefly and take 
> questions at our BC meeting on Tuesday.
> All comments welcome, and it would be wonderful if a member or two 
> wanted to lead the BC thinking and engagement on this issue.
> Thanks,
> Mike
> Mike Rodenbaugh
> Rodenbaugh Law
> 548 Market Street
> San Francisco, CA  94104
> +1.415.738.8087
> www.rodenbaugh.com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Adam Palmer [mailto:APalmer at pir.org]
> Sent: Friday, June 19, 2009 5:51 PM
> To: Adam Palmer
> Subject: Important--Regsitry Registrar Separation issue
> All,
> Please see the below site on registry/registrar cross ownership.   
> ICANN will
> also be having a panel on this on Monday.  Strong vocal support is 
> welcome both on the website and at the ICANN Monday panel meeting.
> Please forward this site link to anyone else that might support our 
> concerns on this issue.
> Let me know if any questions.
> Thanks,
> Adam Palmer
> Link:    http://www.registryregistrarseparation.org/supporters

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