The House subcommittee on the new gTLD’s just ended in Washington and it was as bloody as expected.
Of course the representative from ICANN, Kurt Pritz its Senior Vice President, didn’t help himself or ICANN but making inaccurate statements, failing to explain the new gTLD process properly or putting the new gTLD process in a positive light.
IP trademark interests dominated the hearing not only though the witnesses that were called but in statements made by the Representatives which appearently we well lobbied by IP Interests.
As few of the more interesting comments out of the 2 1/2 hour hearing came from Kurt Pritz of ICANN who predicted there would be 200 new gTLD’s withing the first 24 months after launch which is in contradiction to ICANN’s own budget, which anticipates 500 applications.
One Congressman asked Mr. Pritz, in response to his claim of 200 new gTLD’s
“Do you think you can handle 10 times the number of extensions currently in existence in the next 24 months?”
He further asked:
I see you have $92 million from application fees in your budget (ICANN) but only have $35m budgeted for costs so what is the plan for the rest of the money?”
Mr. Pritz did not have a good answer.
A few other Representative asked if the ICANN board vote scheduled for June 20th on the new gTLD’s could be posponed to which Mr. Pritz response was:
“We have had a 7 year period of discussion on the new gTLD’s”
“There are no new issues”
“Every issue that needed to be discussed has been discussed”
“ICANN has listened to all interests including those in the room and needs to bring this to a close.”
One Representative Mr. Darrell Issa of California, questioned why the cost of a domain registration was so high, but also expressed he had no love for domainers
“Why can’t I register a Domain Name at Godaddy for a penny per domain, rather than $10? The cost to provide that service just isn’t that high”
“Why isn’t ICANN major goals to lower the cost of domain registrations to pennies from its current cost and prevented domains from being “camped on” for resale?”
“Why do I have to pay $6,000, $8,000 or $10,000 for a domain because someone has camped on it?”
“Why isn’t that ICANN’s main goal to stop this?
To which Mr. Pritz answered:
“Domainers are against new gTLD’s because they will lose the value of their beachfront property.”
Domainers are you worried that your .com beachfront property values will be lost because of the new extensions?
Don’t think so.
Most domainers feel like .com is the king and will continue to be the king and don’t feel like the new gTLD’s have any chance of devaluing their .Com’s, so this is just a false statement.
Unfortunely it wasn’t the only false statement made by Mr. Pritz.
Kurt boasting abotu ICANN achievements said that:
“Domains used to cost $80 for a registration now they cost no more than $8 or $10.”
Kurt domains never cost $80 for a registration they cost $70 when Network Solutions was the only game in town but that was also for two years.
So while prices have dropped to $8 or $10 that is per year so that equals $16 0r $20.
I mean lets give accurate information when your testifying in front of a House Committee.
Unfortunately no one thought bringing up the about the Verisign contract in response to the inquiry why the cost of a domain registration is so high.
Nor that fact that it looks like the cost will continue to grow by 7% in 4 of every next 6 years forever.
A few other thoughts:
Representative Conyers Jr. of Michigan was clearly lost in the whole process, being more concerned about losing control over the regulation of domain names to China than anything else.
At least one Representative was concerned that new gTLD’s could be set up outside the US, presumable in jurisdictions where the US could not seize domains.
While that Representative saw that as a negative, for domain owners if could clearly be a positive.
The attorney for Fox placed her argument against the new gTLD’s by giving the example of the use of a typo domain myfox2detroit.com (typo of MyfoxtwoDetroit.com) which is going to a porn site.
Of course she did not offer an explanation of why if the typo bothered Fox so much, why they hadn’t gone the WIPO route to get the domain which has been registered since 2006.
Another hearing was requested by several members before the June 20th ICANN board vote.
Representative Watts said that to her “job creation is crucial”, however Pritz failed to mention all the jobs that will be created when the new gTLD’s are permitted.
In general Prtiz was highly defensive trying to fight off questions rather than answering them with good information, as he could have.
In general IMHO, the ICANN community deserved better representation.
I have no idea why the chairman or the CEO of ICANN were not present instead of Mr. Pritz who in my opinion seems unprepared and greatly outmatched.
I still expect ICANN to vote to approve the new gTLD process on June 20th in Singapore.