Still no general consensus on registry-registrar separation for new TLDs.
With names such as RACK+, “Free Trade”, and CAM3, you can be excused for confusing proposals for registry-registrar separation on new TLDs with exotic subprime mortgage bonds or off-balance sheet Enron subsidiaries.
But these are names of three of the six proposals for integrating the traditionally separate roles of registrars (e.g. Go Daddy, eNom) and registries (e.g. VeriSign, Neustar) that are put forth in the GNSO’s Vertical Integration Working Group Initial Report.
Why so many? There’s a lot of disagreement between the parties. I’ve opined before that registries have more to lose than registrars by vertical integration:
Say grocery stores were forbidden from selling their own store brand products. Then rules are changed to permit it. At the same time, big food brands are allowed to open grocery stores for the first time. The incumbent grocery stores would immediately gain power as they control existing shelf space and customer relationships. The brands could build their own stores, but it will take a couple years.
So it comes as little surprise that registry Afilias is in the middle of some of the proposals. The current rule in the draft applicant guidebook would rule out Afilias for new TLDs because it is owned by a number of registrars. Afilias is wants to increase registrar ownership limitations from 2% to 15%, which would permit Afilias to act as a registry for new TLDs.
On the other hand you have registrars such as eNom that want to also introduce their own TLDs. Heavyweight Go Daddy has been somewhat mum on its position, and I haven’t seen any suggestion from the company that it wants to create its own TLDs.
Right now the only proposal on the books in which more working group members are in favor of it (or willing to “live with it”) than are opposed is called JN2. Under JN2, there are restrictions on vertical integration that are relaxed after 18 months.
It looks like the ultimate decision will be up to ICANN’s board, which many think will make a final call on vertical integration during a board retreat in September. Regardless of what it decides, some people will be happy and others will be upset. The initial report notes:
“Despite many hours of face-Âto-Âface meetings, telephone conference calls, and over 3,000 emails generated in a five month period, no consensus has been reached on a proposed model on vertical integration and crossâ€ownership.”
Given the money at stake, it’s no surprise that a consensus wasn’t reach.
A comment period is open through August 12.