ICANN Publishes New .COM/.NET Registry Agreements With 7% Annual Increases

ICANN have published the proposed new registry agreement with Verisign for the .COM and .NET TLDs. The main issue on everyone’s minds when this agreement is renewed is price. The new agreement sees a maximum price per .COM and .NET domain payable to ICANN for registry services, which will increase to $7.85 per domain, from the $6 per domain name as of 2006, as of 31 December 2012, and then a maximum of a seven per cent increase per year afterwards for the life of the agreement. Six months notice to ICANN is required for any fee increase.The new agreement for both .COM and .NET will also see the registry fee replaced with a lump sum quarterly fee based on an additional $0.25 per transaction in the TLD instead of a one-time lump sum payment of, in the case of .COM, $625,000. ICANN Notes this is a substantial increase in Verisign’s contribution.In Verisign’s current agreement with ICANN (Section 4.2), it specifies that the pricing and renewal provisions (among others) are not subject to change through the agreement renewal process. If the .com pricing provisions were to be changed to be similar to the other large gTLDs then that would most likely allow Verisign to raise prices by 10% per year in each of the six years of the agreement, as in the .biz, .info, .net, and .org agreements.The agreement is a 22 page document and also includes a number of other provisions including:

  • support for IPv6 and DNSSEC
  • publication of registry abuse contact information
  • to periodically negotiate in good faith regarding implementation of new escrow, Whois and technical specifications
  • compliance with IDNA and IDN guidelines
  • allow ICANN to use multiple monitoring locations for DNS and to monitor TCP queries.

There are also a number of changes to bring the registry agreement for .COM and .NET into line with other registry agreements in addition to the $0.25 fee per domain such as requiring the registry operator to implement ICANN ordered registrar suspensions to facilitate ICANN’s contractual compliance efforts. Another new provision allows the registry operator to temporarily prevent the registration of one or more names in the TLD in order to respond to an imminent threat to the security and/or stability of the TLD or the internet.The agreement also clarifies that the use of traffic data would be limited to “thin” registry model data even if registry were to follow the “thick” registry model as well as clarification that prohibition on “SiteFinder” or other universal wildcard functions does not prohibit provision of name service or any other non-registry service for a domain or zone used for other than registration services and broad indemnification rights in favour of ICANN.There will also be no requirement in the new agreement for Verisign to comply with the rights protection mechanisms (RPMs) developed for new gTLDs: Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS), Post-Delegation Dispute Resolution Process (PDDRP), and the Trademark Clearinghouse.There are six documents posted for public comment with more information and links at www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/announcement-27mar12-en.htm. Public comment is open until 26 April and the new agreements will be considered by the ICANN Board after public comment. Public comments will be posted at www.icann.org/en/news/public-comment/com-renewal-27mar12-en.htm.