[Comments-org-renewal-18mar19] .ORG Price Cap Removal Comment

Jason Michael jckb188 at gmail.com
Fri May 3 08:54:48 UTC 2019

I wasn’t going to submit a personal comment because I feel like this
comment process is simply adding insult to injury, but since I have little
to nothing to lose now, I'll bite.  I do have to wonder what criteria ICANN
will use while examining the comments, to determine whether or not there
are sufficient "nays" in the comments to overturn their decision, or if
this is just an elaborate dog and pony show.

A number of questions and thoughts come to mind regarding ICANN's proposed
.org (and .info and .biz) tld renewal cap removal.

1.  ICANN's justifications for this price cap release are indeed spurious,
if not ludicrous.  The following is one of ICANN's statements:

"This change will not only allow the .org renewal agreement to better
conform with the base registry agreement, but also takes into consideration
the maturation of the domain name market and the goal of treating the
Registry Operator equitably with registry operators of new gTLDs and other
legacy gTLDs utilizing the base registry agreement."

OK.  Aside from the fact that many of us protested these new TLDs to begin
with, as they could easily be considered a giant cash cow, there are a
number of other problems with this statement.  New TLD registry operators
knew that they were signing up for this system.  They knew that they were
going to have to be paying large annual fees to operate them.  And they
knew they were going to be competing against .coms, .orgs, .infos and
.bizs.  When I purchased domains and spent a significant amount of money
developing them over the last several years, I had no idea whatsoever that
in March of 2019 ICANN would flip a switch and destroy thousands of dollars
in inherent value in my business overnight.  Where is my equitable
treatment?  Many businesses, including mine, have taken a substantial hit
simply with this proposal alone!  Who in their right mind would now
purchase a .org or .info right now that was purchased for $1000 a year
ago?  All of this amounts to a massive transfer of wealth from domain
owners and website developers into massive registries.  The only way now to
even hope to amend this is by guaranteeing protection of .orgs and all
legacy tlds for many, many years.

2.  Another justification I have seen is that ICANN is not responsible or
in the business of price fixing.  This is just silly.  ICANN got into the
business of price fixing when it assumed management of the legacy TLDs!
Let us look at an example.  A large Corporation X buys a smaller
Corporation Y for its media and content.  Corporation Y has in its
portfolio movies, news and sports.  In a few years, Corporation X finds
that the news segment isn't profitable or as profitable as Corporation X
would like.  Corporation X lays off the entire news staff and destroys the
news piece of their acquisition altogether.  They issue a statement along
with their actions stating "We are not in the news business".  In
actuality, Corporation X got into the news business when they acquired
Corporation Y.  Saying they are not in the news business, while destroying
the lives of everyone in the news department, is insulting and hurtful when
they knew at the onset of their acquisition that news was part of the deal.

3.  How is the registry (PIR in the case of .org) actually going to find
fair market value for renewal fees on domains that are currently occupied?
For example, say that I bought a .org at a certain price several years ago
- one that wasn't being bid on but set high enough that nobody wanted it.
I bought it at that price with the assumption that I would be paying
renewal fees within a certain range.  Now let's say that I have put
a website on that domain that offers significant value to the public, and
PIR comes along and says "I think the renewal for that domain should be -
ah - $300 a year".  I will have to shut down my site, and the domain will
then be auctioned or released to the public for sale.  In this example, let
us say that nobody wanted it at $500 except for me, and nobody in their
right mind is going to touch it now at $300 a year.  The registry, after
a year of not selling it, lowers the renewal rate to $200 a year - a
bargain!  Nobody wants it still.  Finally, after several years of trying to
get top dollar for it, the registry finally gets it down to $60 a year
where a squatter is willing to grab it up.  Let's examine the effects of
this.  You have essentially evicted a property owner off of their property
that they believed they owned and could build a lasting and useful site
on.  You have destroyed end users' ability to access quality information
and reduced their access to a higher quantity of information.  You have
destroyed the integrity of that domain for years - if not forever - once it
gets replaced by ads.  How does this in any way meet your specified goals
of price stability and benefiting the end user?

4.  While this price cap removal is egregious, the real fruit is seemingly
in .coms.  Let's imagine what the renewal fees on the .coms will be in a
few years after this proposal has been snuck in on the .orgs, .infos and
.bizs.  Why, some of the .coms could easily go for thousands of dollars
each!  Never mind that the above (#3) will happen on a massive scale
and alter the internet in mind-boggling ways.  In fact, a huge number of
small businesses STILL don't have websites because of associated costs!
What is it going to look like in 5 to 10 years??

I am a website developer and not a domain squatter unless I need those
domains for the site development.  I try to build quality sites for the end
user - the public.  Though it may be difficult to quantify, it is my belief
that this proposal has inflicted damage on the value of my and many other
developers' businesses.  I am attempting to contact as many members of
Congress as possible on this issue and would recommend that others that see
this message do the same, if by any chance my comments make it to the
public forum.

Jason C, Arkansas
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