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ICANN Board Drops Bomb on Registrars Hoping to Launch New TLDs

Board opts for separation of registrars and registries for new top level domain names.

[Update: Minutes from board meeting emphasize pending plan from GNSO.] ICANN’s board resolved today that there will be “strict separation of entities offering registry services and those acting as registrars. No co-ownership will be allowed.”

However, the board left the possibility open for compromise, stating that if the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) comes up with a compromise, it will consider it.

This is bad news for companies such as Demand Media, which owns registrar eNom and hoped to apply for new top level domain names. It’s good news for incumbent registries VeriSign, Neustar, and Afilias.

The issue of registry/registrar separation has been a hot topic since the start of discussions on new top level domain names. The separation of the .com registry from the registrar business opened the door to massive registrar competition. Without it, it’s fair to wonder if behemoths such as Go Daddy, eNom, and Tucows would be around today.

But proponents of allowing integration — including some of these very same registrars that benefited to separation the first time around — argue that was a different time with a different set of circumstances.

Practically speaking, I don’t think prohibiting registrars from being registries will make that much of a difference in new TLDs. It will just create a headache for registrars as they create separate legal and financial structures to sidestep the prohibition.

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  1. Chip Meade says

    Stupid rule, that will hurt the ability of ICANN to roll out these new tlds. They are niche level domains and are only interesting to those that can sell them. I thought the registars would be a great fit for these. The rule should have allowed it but restricted the registry/registrar to pricing minimums based on what is offered to other participating registrars. major blow to the new tld movement.

  2. Washingtonian says

    I don’t know if permitting direct registrar/registry relationship would create unfair competition for the smaller registrars.

    I wonder if they feared enquiries from the Dept. of Justice, Dept of Commerce, FTC and Congress regarding unfair trade practices?

    Another reason Icann would like to move to Switzerland. Then, they don’t have to answer to anyone.

  3. Brady R. says

    Another very stupid ICANN decision. Good luck trying to get existing registrars to promote your one obscure new TLD out of hundreds.

    Though maybe it’s less stupid and more just self-serving – look at the makeup of the ICANN board.

  4. Nic says

    It is not a stupid decision at all. It is sensible.

    Ironically, before the internet, a manufacturer, distributor or wholesaler would never compete with their channel by selling direct (retail). For some reason this is now accepted practice, ie resellers accept that their supplied competes with them.

  5. Steve M says

    For the industry as a whole, who cares?

    Junk domains are still junk domains.

    Whether served from one waiter or two.

  6. Jeffrey Eckhaus says

    @Nic – do you believe it is a problem with Apple products? You can buy a Macbook at an Apple store or at Amazon.
    I think Apple stores have helped the image of Apple and brought around new customers, many who buy their Apple products at other locations like Best Buy or Amazon.

  7. Steve Cheatham says

    wellll…2 cents worth.
    Separating of communications infrastructure and content is important in a democracy.

    To me.. the registrar is infrastructure and should not be in the content side.

    Remember the phone company? they are still squeezing large profits out of their arrangement with themselves to provide service on their own infrastructure.It has impeded innovation for many years.

    I am glad icann recognizes the importance of this.

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