[GTLD-WG] [CPWG] EFF : Nonprofit Community Stands Together to Protect .ORG

Jonathan Zuck JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org
Sat Nov 23 03:36:02 UTC 2019


Again, Nat. I’m simply putting forth arguments for both sides. If my assumptions are wrong, as you suggest, I’m happy to be better educated. I am truly only preaching we spend some time on this rather than make a knee jerk decision.  I make only two points:


  1.  A non-profit is not necessarily a better steward of .ORG
  2.  The interests of individual end users might not be in perfect alignment with domain investors or non-profit registrants for that matter.

I leave room for either outcome but a rush to judgement, heavily influenced by a campaign managed by a for-profit industry association that stands to lose the most, seems imprudent, that’s all. Surely you can see that.

As for your other points. I don’t consider what’s happened to DC Dogs to be domain abuse. It’s simply the free market for domains. That said, it does point to the flaw in the notion that a non-profit registry is well equipped to protect non-profits from profiteering and it’s probably not in the interests of consumers or their trust in the internet that DC Dogs had to settle for a .com because the .org was in the hands, not of a competing non-profit, but a profiteer.

The porn site thing IS a form of abuse, I suppose, but there would certainly be less  of it if prices were higher,  a notion put into my head by Evan who is now really pissed at ISOC and with good reason but that doesn’t detract from the logic of his original analysis.

If feel as though your argument that you are not profiting off “established non-profits” to be a distinction without a difference. So you’re not profiting off of the non-profits that are already worth millions but you are off of new entities just trying to get started? So it’s somehow worse that an established non-profit might have to pay $20 for a domain name than that a new one might have to pay $5k, for example?  I’m missing the logic. Why are .ORG names even available to for profit registrants?

The “we” in my previous email was “individual end users,” the constituency represented, however imperfectly, by the ALAC.

I honestly don’t know if my strawman arguments here are better than those advanced by EFF and others. As we go through the process of evaluating them, we might very well reach the conclusion that the free speech arguments should prevail and I would certainly find those more persuasive than the price concerns which seem overblown.

I would just like us to stay focused on the interests of individual internet users and endeavor to be rational in the evaluation of those interests.
Jonathan


From: Nat Cohen <ncohen at telepathy.com>
Date: Friday, November 22, 2019 at 10:01 PM
To: Jonathan Zuck <JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org>
Cc: Alexander Schubert <alexander at schubert.berlin>, CPWG <cpwg at icann.org>
Subject: Re: [CPWG] [GTLD-WG] EFF : Nonprofit Community Stands Together to Protect .ORG

Jonathan,

Thanks for this response.  I'm sorry you had that poor experience with regard to dcdogs.org<http://dcdogs.org> and the other domain name you mentioned.  That is not the behavior of professional domain investors, yet certainly there are opportunities for that kind of abuse online.

I do disagree with your statement that it is the ICA's business model to profit off of the same non-profits whose interests we claim to advance.  We are not profiting off of established non-profits.  They already have their domain names and do not need to buy them in the secondary market.  The ones profiting from established nonprofits are the ones overcharging them for registering and renewing their existing domain names.

As to the comments made in your previous email - I am impressed with the public spiritedness of many people in this group.

What does it mean to evaluate interests logically?  If one starts with faulty assumptions, and then applies logic, one arrives at faulty conclusions.

I'm not sure why you are so intent on trying to justify the removal the price caps on PIR and hesitant about condemning the sale of PIR to Ethos Capital, when the nonprofits who are most affected by these developments are so adamantly opposed to them.

It is possible that Ethos is buying PIR with the intention of not raising prices a cent, as you suggest - but not very plausible.

Before the .org agreement renewal was approved, you made a "counterintuitive" argument in favor of raising prices:

"However, the strongest, albeit counterintuitive argument for the removal of price caps is that we actually WANT higher prices. It became obvious to the CCT Review Team that the caps represent a price point with which it is difficult for new entrants to compete and that an increase in the median price of gTLDs would likely be good for competition." (https://mm.icann.org/pipermail/cpwg/2019-April/001116.html)

Who is the "we" in that statement?  Are you speaking as a steward for the interests of the end users here?

On what basis should we prefer your rationales above to the reasons offered in the EFF letter circulated today, and the comments of National Council of Nonprofits, the ASAE, the AARP, the National Geographic Society and so many others, made earlier?

Regards,

Nat

On Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at 9:29 PM Jonathan Zuck <JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org<mailto:JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org>> wrote:
Oh I guess this IS the same thread. Sorry about that.

Nat, thank you for your thoughtful note here and who doesn’t love a good analogy to Dr. Seuss? Back when George Kirkos was part of At-Large, he made many of the same points about registries as service providers, property managers rather than landlords, etc. and it’s a strong point. Of course, it’s a bit simplistic as we have increasingly placed other responsibilities on them beyond “running a database” that involve market making, security, stability, PICs, etc. I don’t know how to value all of that but that’s the case for all the registries now.  I’ve been on the side of the secondary market in fights with Ticketmaster making many of the same arguments. Of course, the challenge is when the secondary market becomes the primary market because of automation, etc. so that a concert is sold out minutes after tickets go on sale. While, thankfully, that’s not quite the case here, we do have some interesting challenges when a tiny arts non-profit needs to pay $7,500 for a domain that should only have been available to a non-profit to begin with and another has to pay $10k just keep orphaned links from going to a porn site. Both of these are quite a bit more of a hit to a non-profit than having to pay $20 instead of $10. You see my problem here?

What if, instead, it was much more expensive to buy a domain? They’d still be the cheapest part of a brand but there might be fewer prospectors, fewer phishing scams, less typo squatting and dcdogs.org<http://dcdogs.org> might only cost $35 dollars to register instead of $7,500. Now that’s not just the cast for registrants but for individual ends users as well hoping for a more predictable experience on the web.

When we look at the rights management stuff, the same issue arises. Avoiding consumer confusion, fraud, malware is easier to do with good IP enforcement in the domain space as well. Any consumer protection agency will tell you that’s true.

And yes, I have read the blog and I’ve seen a few emails that were used to get folks on board for the initial campaign against PIR and the rhetoric does seem a bit extreme to me, given the practical implications. I find it a bit difficult to see the ICA as the Lorax when it is, in fact, their business model to profit off those very same non-profits whose interests they claim to advance.

Again, after careful consideration, we may end up at the same place for different reasons. I’m retired now. I used to run a trade association that was very aligned with trademark and copyright holders and served as part of the IPC to try and advance those interests.  These days I concern myself solely with the focus and integrity of the ALAC and make every effort to ensure we explore the logical interests of individual end users with some rigor.  I don’t have an opinion on where we should end up on this discussion; simply on how we get there.

Hope that makes sense.
Jonathan

From: Nat Cohen <ncohen at telepathy.com<mailto:ncohen at telepathy.com>>
Date: Friday, November 22, 2019 at 5:18 PM
To: Jonathan Zuck <JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org<mailto:JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org>>
Cc: Alexander Schubert <alexander at schubert.berlin>, CPWG <cpwg at icann.org<mailto:cpwg at icann.org>>
Subject: Re: [CPWG] [GTLD-WG] EFF : Nonprofit Community Stands Together to Protect .ORG


This discussion has taken an interesting turn - "very greedy non-profits", "turned it into a porn site", "any price INCREASE up to about $100 would be a POSITIVE".

There's a lot to unpack here.

I am a domain investor.  I recognize it may seem odd for domain investors to care about how much nonprofits are paying for their .org domain names.  Indeed, the primary focus of domain investors is .com domain names.  .Org domain names represent a negligible holding in most investors' portfolios.

Domain investors are first and foremost registrants.  We care about registrant rights.  We care about our ownership rights in our domain names.  We want registry service providers to act like service providers.  We don't like it when registries attempt to usurp the value in entire namespaces when those name spaces are legacy name spaces that they did not create nor nuture to maturity.

As registrants, do registrants own their domain names, or do the registries own those domain names?  That is a key question.  The right to charge any price to renew a domain name is the right of an OWNER, not a contracted service provider.

The right to tell EFF, ICANN, the Girl Scouts, and the registrants of ten million other .org domain names that their right to continue using their long term home on the Internet depends on paying PIR whatever price PIR wishes to impose, conveys to PIR the right of an owner.  PIR runs a database.  Actually they outsource the running of a database.  The marginal cost of adding or renewing a domain name is a fraction of a cent.  Yet PIR charges over $9 for performing that service - or rather for hiring someone else to perform that service - for an average cost of under $2 per domain name.

As others have pointed out, the benefits from these agreements are concentrated in a couple of registries, in particular PIR and Verisign, while the harm is diffused across tens of millions of registrants.  The harm suffered by the average registrant is not great enough to motivate them to engage with ICANN.  So registries exert their influence on ICANN, the registrants don't participate, and the result is that the registrants are harmed while the registries negotiate sweetheart deals.

One of the few businesses where registrations are concentrated such that the harm incurred is high enough to make it worthwhile to engage at ICANN is domain investing.  Domain investors are similarly situated with other registrants as to registrant rights issues.  You may not like our business model.  You may have other issues with us.  But in the absence of engagement by the millions of registrants around the world who bear the brunt of ICANN's policies but aren't here to participate in the process, we are speaking out.  You can think of us like the Lorax in the Dr. Seuss book, we speak for the trees when the trees can't speak for themselves.

One might ask about the legitimacy of the participants in At Large to speak on behalf of the global Internet community.  What are your interests here?

I am friendly with Alexander.  I know that he is a promoter of new gTLDs.  It is no accident he has the excellent domain name Schubert.Berlin.  Higher prices for legacy domain names, such as .org domain names at $100 or so, would make the new gTLDs he is promoting more attractive.

Jonathan - I am fairly new here.  You have strong opinions on these matters.  What is your interest in these issues?

As for your question about what shrill rhetoric may have motivated the nonprofits to comment, there is a blog post by NameCheap that they shared with their .org registrants that led many of them to comment, and some of them to use the form that the ICA created to facilitate comments.  That blog post is here - https://www.namecheap.com/blog/keep-domain-prices-in-check/.  I agree that the blog post raises the fear of sharply higher prices - "sky-high .org prices could be coming" and "Rather than a 10% increase to renew your domain next year, it could suddenly start charging registrars like Namecheap 100 times as much."  You can read the post for yourself and form your own opinion.

Yet what I wonder about is why are the opinions of the folks who joined this group - I mean, you even allowed a domain investor to join - more relevant that what the nonprofit community is saying loudly and clearly and consistently.

To the extent that this group has any relevance at all, and actually has any overlap with its stated purpose of representing Internet users at large, shouldn't it be guided by the interests of the nonprofits as stated by those nonprofits themselves, rather than whoever wandered into this group for whatever unknown reason?

Regards,

Nat Cohen


On Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at 4:15 PM Jonathan Zuck <JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org<mailto:JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org>> wrote:
Good point
________________________________
From: GTLD-WG <gtld-wg-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org<mailto:gtld-wg-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org>> on behalf of Alexander Schubert <alexander at schubert.berlin>
Sent: Friday, November 22, 2019 4:12 PM
To: 'CPWG' <cpwg at icann.org<mailto:cpwg at icann.org>>
Subject: Re: [GTLD-WG] [CPWG] EFF : Nonprofit Community Stands Together to Protect .ORG


Any price INCREASE up to about US $100 per year would be a POSITIVE: It scares scalpers away.

The REAL risk we are facing is obviously the OPPOSITE:

That PIR allows freebee “creates” (first year registrations) to hike the .org domain count. The result of such action: bad actors snatching up EVERY single generic term based .org; and expired domains.



I am not afraid of rice hikes. I am afraid of the opposite: free “creates”. These monetization sites BADLY hurt the “.org” trust with Google. We shouldn’t ask ICANN for a “price cap” – rather for a guaranteed MINIMUM reg fee!



Thanks,



Alexander.berlin









From: GTLD-WG [mailto:gtld-wg-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org<mailto:gtld-wg-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org>] On Behalf Of Jonathan Zuck
Sent: Freitag, 22. November 2019 15:58
To: Kaili Kan <kankaili at gmail.com<mailto:kankaili at gmail.com>>; Evan Leibovitch <evanleibovitch at gmail.com<mailto:evanleibovitch at gmail.com>>
Cc: CPWG <cpwg at icann.org<mailto:cpwg at icann.org>>
Subject: Re: [GTLD-WG] [CPWG] EFF : Nonprofit Community Stands Together to Protect .ORG



Yes, those are the same issues raised during the original discussion about .ORG but they are still pretty specific to folks in the secondary market if you go one layer down. I've got about a dozen .ORG domains registered which I suspect is more than most non-profits, and I'd be fine with the price quadrupling if it put a dent in the secondary market for confusingly similar, snapped up and turned into porn sites and just plain expensive domains. I've run an arts non-profit called DC Dogs for the past decade. I found it a LOT cheaper to get the .COM than the .ORG because the .ORG was being held by a domain investor. Several times a year, I get an email from a broker asking if I'm ready to buy the .ORG. And THIS year, I was breathlessly notified that there had been a HUGE price decrease so I could now pick it up for the low low price of $7,500! Another time, I switched from competitivetechnology.org<http://competitivetechnology.org> to actonline.org<http://actonline.org> and unfortunately allowed competitivetechnology.org<http://competitivetechnology.org> to lapse. It was immediately purchased and turned into a porn site, capitalizing on the traffic WE had established so to buy it back, I had to match the revenue it was making for the domain investor, something close to $10k. It's a little ironic to talk about non-profit management of .ORG when so many of the second level domains are in the hands of the most for profit actors in the market.



We should also remember there are safeguards and PICs in the new contract that legacy domains do not need to implement and we have not evaluated their relative value to end users. As end users, we're most certainly not automatically for limiting IP rights, for example, because of the high correlation between infringement and malware. If we don't like the safeguards, we have a role to play in improving them which will go a LOT further than any reliance on someone's non-profit status to protect us. There are PLENTY of very greedy non-profits in the world whos executives make a great deal of money. I think the PIR CEO pay is something like $750k so before we cry a river over their loss, let's have a real discussion about how best to protect our interests in this.



All this said, I have nothing against domain investors and they are simply a reflection of a free market (that will exist with, or without PIR) and I myself once sold activate.com<http://activate.com> for much more than I paid for it. However, I do not believe the internet community owes them anything and should not concern ourselves with their interests.



Consequently, when they are the primary driver behind an initiative to control pricing, we should be wary of their motives. Yes, they managed to generate a lot of comments and yes, Nat, I'm sure those comments were legitimately from the organizations listed but we know little of how the problem is being described to those organizations or how shrill the rhetoric about domain takedowns, etc. What we DO know is that domain investors are the group with the MOST to lose here whereas doubling the price of innovatorsnetwork.org<http://innovatorsnetwork.org> will make a lot of cash for Ethos and not make a bit of difference to the Innovators Network Foundation.



So Evan, I make no statement about the best outcome, because I have not yet studied it and I have NO problems with strange bedfellows if we're on the right side of something. I'm just not ready to ASSUME this is a bad development because folks with an entirely unique stake tell me so. All I ask is that we spend the time to discuss it.

Jonathan



________________________________

From: Kaili Kan <kankaili at gmail.com<mailto:kankaili at gmail.com>>
Sent: Friday, November 22, 2019 3:12 PM
To: Evan Leibovitch <evanleibovitch at gmail.com<mailto:evanleibovitch at gmail.com>>
Cc: Jonathan Zuck <JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org<mailto:JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org>>; Dev Anand Teelucksingh <devtee at gmail.com<mailto:devtee at gmail.com>>; CPWG <cpwg at icann.org<mailto:cpwg at icann.org>>
Subject: Re: [CPWG] [GTLD-WG] EFF : Nonprofit Community Stands Together to Protect .ORG



After reading the letter signed by over 20 NGOs, I find it going beyond far potential price increases.  The following are their listed concerns:



-- The power to raise .ORG registration fees without the approval of ICANN or the .ORG community. A .ORG price hike would put many cash-strapped NGOs in the difficult position of either paying the increased fees or losing the legitimacy and brand recognition of a .ORG domain.

-- The power to develop and implement Rights Protection Mechanisms unilaterally, without consulting the .ORG community. If such mechanisms are not carefully crafted in collaboration with the NGO community, they risk censoring completely legal nonprofit activities.

-- The power to implement processes to suspend domain names based on accusations of “activity contrary to applicable law.”  The .ORG registry should not implement such processes without understanding how state actors frequently target NGOs with allegations of illegal activity.



If these are true, it seems that we have even more reasons to act.



Kaili



On Sat, Nov 23, 2019 at 3:56 AM Evan Leibovitch <evanleibovitch at gmail.com<mailto:evanleibovitch at gmail.com>> wrote:

I am somewhat comforted by the observation that the Free Software Foundation and Electronic Frontier Foundation have signed on to the site, neither of which is associated with being corporate proxies.



I share your concern about ICA. However, at various points in history we've partnered with many different parts of the ICANN ecosystem and this time we happen to be on the same side as an organization we often consider as an adversary. Strange bedfellows indeed but why not?



I maintain my position that PIR should be given more leeway to set prices. That's not the issue to me. The change of PIR from nonprofit to for-profit has far deeper implications for trust that price increases will be reasonable and serving an interest beyond maximizing revenue. I had trust that a nonprofit PIR would treat the removal of price caps with prudence. I have no such confidence in a profit-maximizing PIR.



___________________
Evan Leibovitch, Toronto
@evanleibovitch/@el56



On Fri., Nov. 22, 2019, 1:50 p.m. Jonathan Zuck, <JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org<mailto:JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org>> wrote:

I confess I’d be interested to see who is behind this site.  The talking points are very similar to those with which we were bombarded by ICA during the original discussions around .ORG. Deep down, we ALL know that the only ones truly harmed by a price increase are volume registrants. It was you who suggested that a price hike might actually be pro-consumer. Let’s not lose site of all that because we’re pissed at ISOC. Let’s try to keep from being manipulated again and do a reasoned analysis of the situation.



From: GTLD-WG <gtld-wg-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org<mailto:gtld-wg-bounces at atlarge-lists.icann.org>> on behalf of Evan Leibovitch <evanleibovitch at gmail.com<mailto:evanleibovitch at gmail.com>>
Date: Friday, November 22, 2019 at 1:41 PM
To: Dev Anand Teelucksingh <devtee at gmail.com<mailto:devtee at gmail.com>>
Cc: CPWG <cpwg at icann.org<mailto:cpwg at icann.org>>
Subject: Re: [GTLD-WG] [CPWG] EFF : Nonprofit Community Stands Together to Protect .ORG



Have a look at https://savedotorg.org

Interesting list of signatories. Perhaps ALAC should endorse?

___________________
Evan Leibovitch, Toronto
@evanleibovitch/@el56



On Fri., Nov. 22, 2019, 1:16 p.m. Dev Anand Teelucksingh, <devtee at gmail.com<mailto:devtee at gmail.com>> wrote:

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/11/nonprofit-community-stands-together-protect-org

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