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A Day Which Will Live in Infamy: ICANN Board Approves VeriSign Settlement

ICANN’s Board voted to accept the latest settlement proposal by a vote of 9 to 5:

“Today, ICANN’s Board of Directors approved, by a majority vote, a set of agreements settling a long time dispute between ICANN and VeriSign, the registry operator for the .COM registry.

These settlement documents include a new registry agreement relating to the operation of the .COM registry. The new .COM registry agreement will now proceed to the U.S. Department of Commerce for final approval, and the entire settlement is dependent upon this approval before it is finalized. USDOC approval is required due to the unique history of the .COM generic top-level domain and it is the only gTLD which requires such approval. If approved, this settlement will clear the way for a new and productive relationship between ICANN and VeriSign facilitating ICANN’s stewardship and technical coordination of the Internet’s domain name system.”

This truly is a day which will live in infamy, and the five who voted against it have my respect. The war is surely not over although the theatre shifts to the Department of Commerce who will need to approve the contractual changes. That is not assured. Should the DoC reject it (and if they have any folks with economics backgrounds, they would do so in a jiffy), ICANN’s days as a body are numbered.

VeriSign should not begin partying. If one recalls, the ICANN Board also voted to approve WLS (another poor decision), in March 2004, yet it hasn’t seen the light of day.

By George Kirikos, President, Leap of Faith Financial Services Inc.

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James Seng  –  Mar 1, 2006 9:23 AM

Why is settlement bad? Or you rather ICANN and Verisign fight in court spending millions of legal fees to fight a case which is hard to say which side will win? More importantly, the last thing we (the community) and ICANN needs right now is uncertainity in the industry. The only winner are lawyers (and btw, where you think the money comes from?)

Running a business and/or NGO/NOP is never about proving a point. Settlement is always cheaper and faster for all involved.

The Famous Brett Watson  –  Mar 1, 2006 11:28 AM

James, I think you’ll find that it’s the terms of the settlement, rather than the act of settlement itself, which is the bone of contention here.

George Kirikos  –  Mar 1, 2006 2:28 PM

There are so many things wrong with this settlement agreement—see www.cfit.info for an archive and compilation of them. Perpetual price increases (in an industry where costs are falling), perpetual renewal without competing tenders, non-disclosure of the Appendix W $200 million R&D requirements (which explicitly mentioned development of a Universal WHOIS that was never delivered), and use of traffic data which violates business privacy (Amazon could find out the number of DNS queries to Barnes & Noble, for example) are some of the highlights of the bad settlement terms for the community of domain registrants.

ICANN’s Board should read the history of Neville Chamberlain, who said in 1938 “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.”

Doctor J  –  Mar 1, 2006 10:17 PM

This is indeed a very poor “settlement” which would unjustly enrich Verisign and force millions of domain owners to pay ever-increasing, and already-excessive amounts for registration services. Given the huge volumes Verisign handles, the actual cost of the services they provide is obviously far less than the monopoly prices provided in the settlement.

Chris McElroy  –  May 24, 2006 4:17 AM

James you said “Running a business and/or NGO/NOP is never about proving a point. Settlement is always cheaper and faster for all involved.”

Not if you believe in what you are doing and that what you are doing is right. This attitude is exactly what Verisign and other large litigious corporations count on.

Settlement is always cheaper? For who? Certainly it wasn’t cheaper for the millions who will be registering domain names through the verisign monopoly.

Faster? Yeah thats important.

If ICANN is to represent millions of Internet users but is going to fold every time a corporation threatens to sue them then we have no representation at all.

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