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    New gTLDs When is a registrant NOT a registrant?
    posted by michael on Tuesday February 14 2006, @09:30AM

    Richard_Henderson writes "A year ago, when the .pro registry was languishing because of a poorly-designed business model and very few registrants, Thomas Barrett of EnCirca came up with a business concept which would raise revenue for EnCirca and also for DotPro. The idea was to circumvent the restrictions on registrants by 'leasing' the names to them instead. Thousands of names were acquired in a matter of weeks.

    It was not really surprising. EnCirca's promotional literature stated: "Non-credentialed individuals can now register second-level .PRO names en masse through EnCirca’s new Bulk .PRO Registration form."

    The fact that this was a subversion of the clearly stated intentions and purposes of .pro, as agreed in the ICANN Agreements which establisged it, was neither here nor there. It would raise revenue for an ailing sTLD and the DotPro Registry obligingly turned a blind eye to what was going on.

    Although .pro was designed to be a restricted sTLD, limited to verified professionals, EnCirca was now telling people that they didn't need to show any credentials at all. EnCirca would get itself verified, buy the domains, and then sell the use of the names to anyone anywhere in the world who applied for them.



    As Michael del Ciello put it: "To be honest, this domain had languished just a bit and was not being marketed and introduced as aggressively as it might have been."

    So in a few weeks of excited buying, registrants with no credentials acquired such professional sounding names as www.c**t.pro ... www.sl*ts.pro ... and inevitably www.fu*k.pro.

    The only problem was: they were not actually "registrants" at all.

    Now, a year later, as the time comes round for all these customers to renew "their" domains at EnCirca's prices, they discover that the option of transfering "their" names to an alternative registrar is almost impossible (in the absence of credentials).

    In effect, these would-be "registrants" have been "locked" into EnCirca's own pricing structure and the normal freedom to move between registrars is scarcely an option.

    Given the clearly-stated purpose and intention of .pro as a restricted "gold-standard" TLD for professionals, with mandatory verification processes, designed to withhold these names from the uncredentialled, it seemed logical to ask ICANN what action they would take to safeguard the integrity of the Registry in line with the intentions of its ICANN Agreement.

    So I raised the issue at TWO ICANN meetings, as well as posting an account of what was going on HERE at ICANNWatch.

    Even Tina Dam of ICANN expressed her concern: "ICANN is concerned that EnCirca's Pro-Forwarding Service violates the spirit of name restrictions in top-level domains such as .Pro."

    "If RegistryPro shares ICANN's concerns about these questionable registrations, ICANN would like to discuss whether RegistryPro desires to enter into a contract amendment targeted at preventing registration abuses."

    Since then, in true ICANN fashion, nothing...

    So we now have a sTLD registry which has thousands of names "lost in space" somewhere in EnCirca's universe, destined like asteroids to circle the registration cycle year after year. Names registered not for professionals but mostly for speculation. Names which it seems almost impossible to transfer.

    This moribund registry, which was supposed to be "gold standard" for professionals, now languishes in the world of fu*k.pro and c*nt.pro, acquired by anyone and everyone, regardless of their credentials.

    So much for the Registry's undertakings to ICANN: "The .pro domain name will become a kind of "gold standard" credential for licensed and registered professionals around the globe." Lucas Roh, President and CEO of Hostway, on acquiring the assets of RegistryPro.

    Instead, the majority of registrants are not even registrants at all. So much for EnCirca's promotional promise: "Non-credentialed individuals can now register second-level .PRO names en masse".

    Actually, they could not "register" the names at all.

    When is a registrant not a registrant?

    When he uses the .pro Registry.

    Was this really what ICANN and RegistryPro agreed to when the aims, intentions and purposes of the Registry were set out?

    If so, I'll ask another one:

    When is a restricted TLD not restricted?

    Answer: when the registry sells thousands of names to a middleman so that uncredentialled people anywhere can buy them.

    Was it ICANN's intention that a 'middleman' registrar should 'warehouse' thousands of names, and then hold them, with so little prospect of transfer or an open market?

    And what kind of precedent does this "leasing" loophole set for future restricted TLDs or the integrity of ICANN's Agreements and New TLDs?

     
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      Related Links  
    · ICANNWatch.org
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    · HERE
    · Richard_Henderson
    · More New gTLDs stories
    · Also by michael
     
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    When is a registrant NOT a registrant? | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 7 comments | Search Discussion
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    Failure of ICANN to write bulletproof contracts
    by GeorgeK on Tuesday February 14 2006, @01:13PM (#16602)
    User #3191 Info | http://www.kirikos.com/
    This is yet another example of the failure of ICANN staff, and their inability to write good contracts.

    The assumption should be made with any new TLD that it will be gamed to the maximum extent. We see it in .eu too, where non-Europeans established European companies specifically for the Sunrise, and then applied for flimsy European trademarks in order to secure generic .eu domain names. Further discussion here [dnforum.com], here [dnforum.com], and here [dnforum.com].

    If you assume the next new batch of TLDs won't be gamed, I have a bridge to sell ya....
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