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Court Case Against VeriSign, .Com Monopoly Revived 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-not-pass-go dept.
netczar writes "According to a post by John Levine on CircleID, as well as other sources, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has reversed a lower court decision which threw out an antitrust lawsuit several years ago by the Coalition for ICANN Transparency (CFIT) against VeriSign. Levine writes: 'Back in 2005 an organization called the Coalition for ICANN Transparency burst upon the scene at the Vancouver ICANN meeting, and filed an anti-trust suit against VeriSign for their monopoly control of the .COM registry and of the market in expiring .COM domains. They didn't do very well in the trial court, which granted Verisign's motion to dismiss the case. But yesterday the Ninth Circuit reversed the trial court and put the suit back on track.'"
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Court Case Against VeriSign, .Com Monopoly Revived

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  • by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Saturday June 06, 2009 @10:55AM (#28232983) Homepage

    There's so much misinformation about this it's not funny. I was there, here's a few things that wern't made public.

    First of all, in the day there was great pressure for NSI to "sign with ICANN" and become subject to its aegis. NSI had keept the root and tld servers running since their inception and still had the lions share of cluefull people like Mark Kosters. Granted the marketing department were sometimes idiots, but if you tour every major DNS shop on the planet you had to gridgingly admit the NSI boys knew their stuff better than anybody. By a large margin.

    NSI didn't want to sign with ICANN because they knew ICANN were gunning for them. There was a publid hatred of NSI (for being successful) and this had come to a head in ICANN "management".

    ICANN and NSI wern't getting along. ICANN had rules it wished to apply to .com that wouldnt be applied to any other tld registry and NSI jsut dug its feet it. This was becoming an embarasment to ICANN.

    Finally Roger Cochetti of IBM, who'd been running around in background with Ira Magaziner for ages, lying to poeple about what was gong to happen (In public: this is your internet, you define the newcorp and staff it, in private: we have the thing in the bag, meet your new overlords, you can't elect your own, and to this day there are still not free ICANN board elections!) and one day NSI got a call and were locked in to a room with ICANN and couldn't come out till they'd settled. The came from IBM who for reasons not known to me had that kind of power.

    Now, nobody talked about "competative bidding" when it came to the other 250 tld registie that served up country code tlds (who were also resitant to signing with ICANN) but, in a sense, NSI signed with a gun pointed to it's head. NSI staffers told tales of phone calls saying that the root and tld servers would be declared a national security resource if they didn't knock it off and they should do what they're told.

    There's a reason this wasn't accomplished in a transparent manner: it was done illegally with government complicity.

    As for this lawsuit, guess whose paying for it? You know those "what you need when you need it" guys? ("domainers") Them. When you have a million domains and somebody sugegsts you might save a buck a reg. if this goes though, 7 guys times a mil each and Brett Faussett gets to send his kid to college. I know and like Brett, but this is a stinker.

    If .com is moved some place besides NSI expect nothing to work. Or work well. The idea that scumbags one step above spammers dictate key infrastructural components of the net based on their economic needs and not any objective criteria wrankles a bit.

    ICANN is due for an anti-trust bitch slapping alright, but not about .com.

    The internet, when faced with a problem of scarcity creates new resources, it does not regulate existing ones. The problem is lawyers prevented the implementation of new top level domains. Postels original plan in 97 was 300 new tlds (250+ domains already existed then) with 150 in the first year. The trademark lawyers took over ICANN, prevented any new tlds from being implemented and Postel died. IBM alone admitted in secret that they'd spent $60M lobbying DC for no new tlds and every major three letter computer company had done the same. So, the solution all along was to make NSI "jsut another company" by having another 100 of them dong the same thing.

    But intellectual property lawyers nixed that, you may never know how powerful these guys are, and now they're going after .com.

    • by rs79 (71822)

      I post verifiable fact and observations and you guys think I'm a troll? Wow. Ya know, I was there and you may not like it, but I'm telling you what I saw happen.

    • by sjames (1099)

      NSI may have been packed with technical skills, but when it comes to actually sending a renewal notice to the correct address, keeping the whois information uncorrupted, and actually processing payments (as opposed to cashing the check and expiring the domain anyway), they leave a LOT to be desired. Without fail, in all matters administrative NetSol is the MOST painful to deal with.

      • by rs79 (71822)

        "NSI may have been packed with technical skills, but when it comes to actually sending a renewal notice to the correct address, keeping the whois information uncorrupted, and actually processing payments (as opposed to cashing the check and expiring the domain anyway), they leave a LOT to be desired. Without fail, in all matters administrative NetSol is the MOST painful to deal with."

        First, NSI the .com/net registry is a separate company from the retail people that renew domains. Guess which ones has a majo

  • by Kuciwalker (891651) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @11:03AM (#28233069)
    Every 5, 10 years or so, hold an auction for the right to administer each gTLD.
    • by shentino (1139071) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @11:30AM (#28233387)

      Who marked this flamebait?

      With the exception of .gov, they should award contracts to the highest bidder to encourage competition.

      As long as they have forfeiture clauses to use against miscreants who don't manage the TLD's correctly I would have no problem with it.

      Having data properly transferred and signed by DNSSEC though would probably be an insurmountable hurdle.

      So maybe a bad idea, but certainly not a dumb one. Using economics against a monopoly usually makes sense.

  • Please, please ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by asifyoucare (302582) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @11:03AM (#28233073)

    smack down Verisign. I've never forgiven them for SiteFinder, and never will.

    Bastards.

    • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @11:21AM (#28233271) Homepage

      If only that was the worst thing they've ever done...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rs79 (71822)

      Here's the deal. .cc did it first and lots of people complained. Then other cctlds began doing it, more poeple complained. ICANN was asked to do something and said it didn't think it was appropriate they do that.

      So NSI began doing it, citing a clause in their agreement that they couldn't be treated differently from any other registry.

      ICANN got them to shut it down, in violation of their own contract with NSI and they didn't shut the other ones down.

  • Wake up and smell the end of the decade.

  • I'm not a fan of VeriSign by any means, but aren't there several organizations in charge of TLDs? VeriSign does not control the .org TLD, nor (I believe) does it control the .co.uk TLD. So this is very much about treating .com special perhaps because it's the most popular and common. However, if VeriSign (or any granted monopoly) abuses their power, then they need to lose the privilege immediately, not when their term is up.

    What is a bit more curious to me is why ICANN is still primarily U.S.-controlled.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @11:26AM (#28233329)

    There are two things that give me pause with regards to this:

    1) There are other organizations that have a "monopoly" on various TLDs. While .com may be the one that most people recognize, doesn't really matter. So it may well be arguable that Verisign's ownership isn't problematic or illegal since there are other TLDs to choose from and others that are "owned" in the same fashion.

    2) This is the 9th circuit court. These guys get overturned on a regular basis. Quite often when there is a controversial case, they rule based on what they think the law ought to be, rather than what the law is. Their decision then gets overturned by the Supreme Court.

    So don't get all worked up at this point. See how it goes from here.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @11:54AM (#28233625) Homepage

      This is the 9th circuit court. These guys get overturned on a regular basis.

      Because it's one of the largest. IIRC, the overturn rate as a percentage of total cases is roughly the same as the other circuits. But still not to get one's panties in a twist....

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AuMatar (183847)

        It actually is a few percentage points lower than the average. But don't let that disrupt the republican talking point about the activist 9th court.

    • by rs79 (71822)

      "There are other organizations that have a "monopoly" on various TLDs"

      Yeah. You should see what the guys that run .arpa get to charge.

  • This is silly. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by yourassOA (1546173)
    How would multiple companies make .com registry better? How would the companies cooperate with each other without increasing cost? Will there be a company / gov agency to oversee the other companies? We have multiple companies for vehicle registry were I live and it sucks networks/computers always down and no one fixes it because its someone else problem making for 20 min+ wait times to register the vehicle while some Win 95a 486 churns away.
    Now if they are so worried about monopolies why don't they go af
    • In this state at least, the power and gas companies aren't allowed to raise rates without permission from the government due to the whole natural monopoly thing. Presumably they'd seek a similar solution to verisign's monopoly.

      • VeriSign's rates are regulated by ICANN already so they can only raise prices 7% per year. However, some of us think the prices should be going down, not up.

        • Re:This is silly. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by signe (64498) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @05:18PM (#28236529) Homepage

          And on what basis do you think the price should be going down? The price has gone up for the last 2 years, but that's still only a total of 14% over the last 10 years. And not only that, the increase has only be a total of $0.86, which is even less significant when you compare it to the price of a registration (given that we ignore the folks who use domain registrations as a loss leader for other products).

          The price of compute power may be going down, but the number of registrations and queries is only going up. In addition, the attacks on the infrastructure are only increasing and getting more sophisticated. And you can't ignore inflation as well. So why should the price of domains go down when the price of most other things go up over time?

          -Todd

  • From the article, "CFIT themselves, despite their name, is about as opaque an organization as there is".

    So, we have a company we know is evil-ish, a company we think might tend towards evil if we gave them control of .com, and ICANN -- for what they're worth. It seems to me that if we continue essentially the same system we have now that VeriSign (or whoever is ultimately given control) needs to be on a short leash from ICANN. Not that they are necessarily better or more transparent, but at least they ca
  • Yeah, this makes a lot of sense. Let's sue VeriSign because someone thinks the management of .com was not bid out properly. VeriSign didn't control the bid process, they participated. So CFIT should really be suing ICANN, since they're the ones who control the process. But ICANN doesn't have much money.

    Makes you question motivations.

    -Todd

    • by rs79 (71822)

      "But ICANN doesn't have much money."

      They have a $60M/yr budget that you pay for with each domain registration or renewal. They skim something off the top of every domain name.

      This replaces what Jon Postel used to do as a part time job for $15K/yr.

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