Frequently Asked Questions

When .ORG was reassigned from Verisign to PIR in 2002, ICANN policy required that .ORG be operated by a non-profit organization that is non-commercial in orientation. PIR had to operate .ORG in a manner which reflects the interests of .ORG domain name holders and be responsive to and supportive of the non-commercial internet user community.

(See Report of the Dot Org Task Force Adopted by the DNSO Names Council on 17 January 2002)

Before the change of control, a significant portion of .ORG registration fees were returned to serve the internet community through redistribution of .ORG funds into the community via PIR’s parent organization, ISOC. With ISOC being replaced by a for-profit private equity investment firm, this redistribution of .ORG funds is likely to be changed. This may put ICANN’s multistakeholder model at risk, as the non-commercial internet user community may become dependent on a private equity investment firm. While the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation of Ethos Capital are not public, private equity investment firms typically have as a basic goal to acquire companies and sell them within a reasonably period at a profit or use the investment to maximize return.

The introduction of new gTLDs had little impact on the market power of legacy and historic TLD operators. Registrations in Original TLDs and in some of the proof of concept TLDs have fluctuated up and down following the introduction of new gTLDs except for .COM, which has continued steady growth. New gTLDs are viewed as complements rather than substitutes of existing domain names.

As long as the gTLD market for gTLD has not matured and adopted mechanisms that effectively limit market power of legacy and historic TLD operators of Original and/or major proof  of concept TLDs, removing price caps would be detrimental to the interest of the internet user.

It is unclear why ICANN removed the price caps for one of the three Original TLDs, and for some of the TLDs that were delegated following the 1st Round of 2000 (also called the proof of concept round).

ICANN staff determined on their own to remove the price cap to bring the registry agreements in line with its base registry agreement that was developed for new gTLDs. For more info, please see Proposed Renewal of .org Registry Agreement – invitation for public comments. Much of ICANN's determination was based upon a preliminary analysis by an economics professor from 2009 that did not reference any data or supporting information. The domain name space has changed significantly since 2009, and much of the analysis is out of date (or based upon assumptions that have changed).

However, ICANN did not take into account the substantial differences between Original/1st round proof of concept TLDs (.COM, .NET, .ORG / .BIZ, .NAME, .INFO, ...) as compared to Sponsored TLDs of the 2nd Round (.POST, .CAT, .ASIA, .JOBS, .MOBI, .TEL, .TRAVEL and .XXX), and new gTLDs of the 3rd Round.

Before the new gTLDs, each TLD had a separate registry agreement (RA). The RAs started to evolve and get more similar over time, but still retained substantial differences.

For the new gTLDs of the 3rd Round, a base registry agreement was designed by the ICANN community policy process for use by all new gTLDs (however new gTLD applicants had the option to negotiate their own separate version, but that would delay getting their TLD online). Of note, during the community process to create the base RA, the base RA was only considered for use with new gTLDs. It was never considered to be applied to existing historic TLDs.

Once the base RA was finalized in 2012 and 2013 it was not used when the RAs for historic TLDs were renewed. It is only in the past few years that ICANN decided to apply the base RA to historic TLDs (which happened first for the relatively small TLD .PRO) However, once it was suggested to remove the price caps from .ORG (the 3rd largest gTLD), the community took notice and took action- especially in light of concerns that similar price restrictions could be removed from .COM and .NET (the two largest gTLDs) in the future.

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