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.