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

Nat Cohen ncohen at telepathy.com
Fri Nov 22 22:18:41 UTC 2019


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>
wrote:

> Good point
> ------------------------------
> *From:* GTLD-WG <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>
> *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] *On
> Behalf Of *Jonathan Zuck
> *Sent:* Freitag, 22. November 2019 15:58
> *To:* Kaili Kan <kankaili at gmail.com>; Evan Leibovitch <
> evanleibovitch at gmail.com>
> *Cc:* CPWG <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 to actonline.org and unfortunately allowed
> 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 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 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>
> *Sent:* Friday, November 22, 2019 3:12 PM
> *To:* Evan Leibovitch <evanleibovitch at gmail.com>
> *Cc:* Jonathan Zuck <JZuck at innovatorsnetwork.org>; Dev Anand Teelucksingh
> <devtee at gmail.com>; CPWG <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>
> 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> 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> on behalf of
> Evan Leibovitch <evanleibovitch at gmail.com>
> *Date: *Friday, November 22, 2019 at 1:41 PM
> *To: *Dev Anand Teelucksingh <devtee at gmail.com>
> *Cc: *CPWG <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> wrote:
>
>
> https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/11/nonprofit-community-stands-together-protect-org
>
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