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Last update: Sun Aug 17 22:48:44 CEST 2003





SnapNames has published a response to the Names Council's decision on WLS (minutes). Interestingly, the statement was posted to ICANN's public forum on behalf of by Susan Crawford, a partner at the same law firm which works for Verisign.

1. The document is addressed to the ICANN board. First, it is claimed that the board's review is limited to approve or disapprove the price ($24/subscription) Verisign is planning to charge all registrars for the WLS. Under the relevant contracts, it is not the Board's role either to delay or condition approval of the price for the WLS on any other factors, including product development conditions suggested by, or opinions of, other bodies, or of direct competitors and retailers of VeriSign (e.g., ccTLDs, registrars) and SnapNames (e.g., some registrars and some speculators).

2. The document then goes on to address the specific suggestions from the Transfer Task Force's report - in order to make clear that the conditions suggested in the NC report are neither practical, of real benefit, nor appropriate. It first addresses the suggestion that registrants should be notified of a pending WLS subscription. Most of the arguments are about the current registrar of a domain name informing the current registrant. Bad enough, that's only about one possible implementation, not about the fundamental idea.

With respect to a publication of WLS subscribers (analogous to whois), Crawford even argues that VeriSign Registry is a "thin registry," so it lacks information about the identity of customers (and is contractually prohibited from having it). This is "thick whois" information possessed only by registrars. For this reason alone, the suggestion simply would not work. By symmetry, this argument implies that WHOIS doesn't work. (The same is true for almost all of the other arguments in that section of the document.)

There is also some tribute to the IPC's argument that a publication of WLS subscribers would make domain take-overs by trademark owners more difficult. Maybe - but the architecture we are talking about does not distinguish between domain name hijackers and trademark owners. Personally, I prefer it to fail on the side of the current domain name holder.

3. The document also has some remarks on the pricing. The rhetorics of this paragraph are interesting: The Task Force's statement that the cost of the WLS function being no more, and probably less, than a registration is not attacked in substance - instead, the Task Force's expertise and methodology is questioned. The argument then turns to the question if cost-based pricing is appropriate at all, and to the question what the current market prices for deleted domain registrations are.

4. The last argument attacked by the document is the competition aspect of the WLS. The point is without merit, SnapNames writes. Of course, the question how the establishment of the WLS would affect the competition between registrars isn't even mentioned.

Finally, in the Conclusion of the document, SnapNames tone changes to threat mode: Any Board decision based on publicly expressed desires to protect particular competitors, by recommending steps to prevent entry into the market of a new competitor, would raise serious legal questions and could undermine ICANN by calling into direct question the legitimacy of such activities.

Sat Jul 27 09:10:52 CEST 2002 #





This is the personal blog of Thomas Roessler.

It's mostly used for comments regarding ICANN, and matters of ICANN's Generic Names Supporting Organization and At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC).