ICANN Policy Update:
John Levine has noticed something incredibly important in the latest ICANN Board Meeting minutes. ICANN may make their .20 cent fee for registration non-refundable, subject to both Board approval and registrar approval of this fee. Currently, tasting domain is free, making it economically viable for tasters to register large chunks of expiring domains, taste them for 5 days and decide which ones to keep. Domain tasters do have to pay the initial registration fee so they need to bankroll the initial payment. But they currently get a full refund for all domains returned within the Add Grace Period (AGP). The number of domains deleted after the AGP is estimated to be 95%.
Now, they will pay a minimum of 20 cents for every domain dropped. While this may sound like a small fee, it adds up to $20,000 when you have tasted 100,000 or more domains. This should make most domain tasting economically unfeasible.
As John notes, it will end any notions of domain front running by Network Solutions. It would also mark the first time ICANN acted relatively quickly about anything. Here is the resolution and vote to change ICANN Policy regarding domain tasting.
Susan Crawford moved and Steve Goldstein seconded the adoption of the following resolution to the ICANN Policy:
Whereas, the current version of all gTLD registry contracts provides for a five-calendar-day Add Grace period (AGP) following the initial registration of a domain during which a domain may be deleted and the sponsoring Registrar will be credited for the amount of the registration fee (see, e.g., http://www.icann.org/tlds/agreements/verisign/appendix-07-01mar06.htm);
Whereas, the AGP was originally created to allow domain names that had been accidentally registered to be cancelled;
Whereas, the practice of "domain tasting," by which names are registered and then deleted during the AGP, has grown at a very great rate since 2005, with tens of millions of domains registered and deleted each month;
Whereas, it is apparent that the AGP is being used for purposes for which it was not intended;
Whereas, abuse of the AGP is, in the opinion of the majority of respondents whose statements were collected by the GNSO Ad Hoc Group on Domain Name Tasting (4 October 2007 report), producing disadvantages in the form of consumer confusion and potential fraud that outweigh the benefits of the AGP;
Whereas, the GNSO Council on 31 October 2007 resolved to launch a PDP on Domain Tasting and to encourage staff to apply ICANN's fee collections to names registered and subsequently de-registered during the AGP;
Whereas, it is the Board's view that abuses of the AGP should speedily be halted, while the positive benefits of the AGP to consumers should be retained;
Whereas, the positive benefits of the AGP may include, among other things, avoiding fraud and monitoring, testing and development of registrars' provisioning, production and/or merchant gateway systems;
Whereas, the Board believes that the withdrawal of ICANN's waiver of ICANN's non-refundable transaction fee to the deletion of names within the AGP will substantially end the practice of abusing the AGP;
THEREFORE, the Board resolves (2008.01.04) to encourage ICANN's budgetary process to include fees for all domains added, including domains added during the AGP, and encourages community discussion involved in developing the ICANN budget, subject to both Board approval and registrar approval of this fee.
A voice vote was taken of all Board Members present and the motion was approved by a vote of 13-0. Bruce Tonkin abstained from voting on this item.