At the recent ICANN 57 meeting held in Hyderabad, India a full Public Forum session was held on Tuesday, November 8th. Utilizing the open mike, ICA Counsel Philip Corwin addressed the ICANN Board regarding the recent announcement that ICM Registry had agreed to adopt the new gTLD rights protection mechanism (RPM) of Uniform rapid Suspension (URS) at the .xxx adult content registry in exchange for ICANN’s agreement to reduce its registry fee by a hefty 87.5%. This is the first time since the controversial revised registry agreements (RA) for .cat, .pro and .travel were unveiled last year that staff of ICANN’s Global Domain Division (GDD) have used the RA negotiations process to achieve expansion of new gTLD RPMs into gTLDs that preceded the program.
Corwin pointed out that the ongoing Policy Development Process (PDP) to review all RPMs at all gTLDs, which he co-chairs, is tasked with recommending whether the URS and other new gTLD RPMs should become ICANN Consensus Policy and therefore applicable to legacy gTLDs – but that GDD’s practice of requesting their adoption by registry operators seeking RA renewals or revisions undermined the primacy of the ICANN community in making such policy decisions.
In his response to Corwin’s statement, GDD head Akram Atallah conceded that GDD continues to press legacy registries to adopt the new gTLD RPMs, stating “THE REGISTRIES COME AND ASK FOR SOMETHING AND WE TELL THEM PLEASE ADOPT THE NEW gTLD CONTRACT”. However, he also indicated that GDD might respect the determinations of the WG, further stating, “IF THE POLICY COMES BACK AND SAYS THAT THE URS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT WE WANT TO HAVE AS A POLICY, OF COURSE, WE WOULD SUPPORT THAT.”
ICA will be filing a comment letter on the proposed .XXX RA by the deadline of November 24th.
Here is the edited-for-clarity transcript of the Public Forum statement and exchange—
>>PHILIP CORWIN: GOOD MORNING. PHILIP CORWIN. I WEAR MANY HATS IN THE ICANN WORLD ONE OF THEM AS A COUNCILLOR FOR THE BUSINESS CONSTITUENCY ON THE GNSO COUNCIL. ANOTHER IS CO-CHAIR OF TWO WORKING GROUPS INCLUDING ONE REVIEWING ALL RPMs AT ALL GTLDS. BUT THE HAT I’M WEARING FOR THIS STATEMENT IS THAT OF COUNSEL TO THE INTERNET COMMERCE ASSOCIATION.
YOU ALL RECALL THAT LAST YEAR GLOBAL DOMAINS DIVISION STAFF NEGOTIATED .CAT, PRO AND TRAVEL, REGISTRY AGREEMENT RENEWALS ALL OF WHICH INCLUDED SO-CALLED VOLUNTARY ADOPTION OF UNIFORM RAPID SUSPENSION. ICA PROTESTED THAT AS DID MANY OTHERS SAYING THAT IT WAS MAKING POLICY THROUGH CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS. WE FILED A RECONSIDERATION REQUEST AS DID THE BC AND THE NCSG JOINTLY. AND THAT HASN’T HAPPENED VERY OFTEN. AND I WANT TO NOTE HERE THAT MY BC COLLEAGUES FAVOR ADOPTION OF URS AS CONSENSUS POLICY BUT TOOK A VERY PRINCIPLED STAND AGAINST GETTING TO THAT RESULT THROUGH THIS MANNER.
BUT GDD AND THE BOARD IN THAT PROCESS SAID THAT, OF COURSE, IT WOULD BE WRONG TO FORCE URS ON REGISTRY OPERATORS THROUGH NEGOTIATIONS BUT THAT THESE RESULTS WERE VOLUNTARY AND, THEREFORE, OKAY.
NOW, ON OCTOBER 12th, ICANN PUBLISHED FOR PUBLIC COMMENT A RENEWAL AGREEMENT FOR .XXX IN WHICH THEY TOO AGREE TO URS FOR A 87% REDUCTION IN THEIR REGISTRY FEES. ONE HAS TO WONDER WHAT A REGISTRY OPERATOR WOULDN’T AGREE TO IN EXCHANGE FOR THAT TYPE OF REDUCTION.
SO I’LL END WITH THIS QUESTION: I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE RPM WORKING GROUP IS GOING TO RECOMMEND ON URS BECOMING CONSENSUS POLICY. MY OWN MIND IS COMPLETELY OPEN ON THIS POINT DEPENDING ON WHAT OUR WORK FINDS AND WHAT CHANGES MIGHT BE MADE IN IT.
BUT IF WE WERE TO RECOMMEND THAT URS SHOULD NOT BE CONSENSUS POLICY — [TIMER SOUNDS.] CAN I JUST FINISH THIS? — WOULD GDD STAFF CONTINUE THIS PRACTICE IN NEGOTIATIONS? IF THE ANSWER IS NO, THEN I MAINTAIN IT’S INAPPROPRIATE FOR THEM TO DO IT NOW. AND IF THE ANSWER IS THAT THEY’RE GOING TO KEEP DOING IT EVEN IF WE COME OUT AGAINST IT BEING CONSENSUS POLICY, THEN DOESN’T THAT RENDER THAT PART OF OUR CHARTER WORK A SOMEWHAT IRRELEVANT EXERCISE IN FUTILITY? THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
>>AKINORI MAEMURA: THANK YOU VERY MUCH. [APPLAUSE] ANYONE TAKES? NO?
>>CHERINE CHALABY: AKRAM, DO YOU WANT TO MAKE A COMMENT ON THAT, PLEASE?
>>AKRAM ATALLAH: SURE, THANK YOU. SO BASICALLY THE NEGOTIATIONS ARE — THE REGISTRIES COME AND ASK FOR SOMETHING AND WE TELL THEM PLEASE ADOPT THE NEW gTLD CONTRACT. AND IF THEY PUSH BACK ON IT AND THEY SAY THEY DON’T WANT SOMETHING, WE CAN FORCE THEM TO TAKE IT. IT’S A NEGOTIATION BETWEEN TWO PARTIES, AND I THINK IT’S WITHIN THE REMIT OF THE CORPORATION TO NEGOTIATE ITS CONTRACTS. IF THE POLICY COMES BACK AND SAYS THAT THE URS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT WE WANT TO HAVE AS A POLICY, OF COURSE, WE WOULD SUPPORT THAT. THANK YOU.
>>PHILIP CORWIN: I APPRECIATE THE LAST PART OF YOUR STATEMENT, AKRAM. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
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