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The Internet Government Politics

Verisign Retains .com Control Until 2012 92

Several readers wrote to note that the U.S. Department of Commerce, in a controversial deal, has extended Verisign's control of the .com domain. Verisign got the right to raise prices in four of the six years of the contract, by up to 7% each time. From the article: "Verisign has control of .com and .net locked up for the next several years, but there will still be a modicum of oversight. [Commerce] retains final approval over any price hikes, and has said that any subsequent renewal of the contract will occur 'only if it concludes that the approval will serve the public interest in the continued security and stability of the Internet domain name system... and the provision of registry services at reasonable prices, terms and conditions.'"
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Verisign Retains .com Control Until 2012

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  • While I understand why some might dislike higher prices for domain naimes, I welcome this. With higher domain prices the cost of domain squatting increases and hopefully we can end up with less junk registered.
    • Isn't the whole notion of trademark law based on "finders keepers?" Why not the same with registering domain names?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AchiIIe ( 974900 )
        How would you like a single company filing for trademark on all permutations of 3, 4, 5 and 6 letter names -- and then turning around and selling those for 10 times more?
        • I wouldn't, but is there an applicable part of the law that says they can't?
          • No, but just because it isn't a law doesn't mean it's not wrong.

            Even for Republicans.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Artifakt ( 700173 )
            There's not anything directly under Department of Commerce's oversight duties, but there is something else under IRS and possibly its state equivalents that looks intriguing to me. (Warning: I am most seriously not a lawyer. I am a tax professional, but this is not my professional tax advice, it's mere speculation. I specifically have absolutely no knowledge of whether the IRS, or the taxation services of any U.S. states is/are currently considering any such interpretations or rulings as I discuss below. If
          • IMHO, As long as the .com TLD is considered to be the "One", buying up domains for speculation purposes should be wrong. As it turns out, companies with trademarks have some say over rights to similar domains. I guess that is as it should be. I grabbed the .com domain of my last name, and I feel fortunate to have it. But it turns my stomach every time I think of a domain I would like to use for a product and when I whois, it is already owned by a domain speculator. My hat is off to SONY, who uses one doma
    • by sjf ( 3790 )
      Is domain squatting really a problem any more - with newly registered domains, I mean ?
      • Have you done a domain name search lately? About 90% of the names I think of are domain squatters.
        • by sjf ( 3790 )
          Then i think out definitions of domain squatting are different. I would limit it to domains that are registered in order to extort money from trademark holders. Presumably you simply mean domains that are registered and not actively used for anything productive. Unless of course the domains you are thinking of are already trademarks, and you are going into the extortion business ;-)

      • Yeah, it is. I recently let a few of my domains expire (wasn't using them anymore, so no point in paying for them), and it was no time at all before a scumbag squatter ( was trying to sell those very domains back to me for the low, low price of $200 each. For someone that might have accidentally let their registration lapse or had other registration difficulties, that's gonna be a no-brainer because the $200 these shysters are demanding is far less than what it would cost for a WIPO ac
    • by swbrown ( 584798 ) <> on Monday December 04, 2006 @03:53PM (#17103290)
      Verisign abuses their monopoly and shouldn't be allowed to keep it. 569 []
      • by Jon_E ( 148226 )
        That should have been covered in the conflict of interest hearings 6-7 years ago that divided verisign-registry from verisign-registrar .. the registry is the real sticking point here with their government appointed tax on every .com registration that passes through. Just think of them like the USPS (another government contracted private company that happens to have a monopoly on mail delivery.)
        • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
          USPS doesn't have a monopoly; many people actively use (or have at least heard of or used before) UPS, FedEx, and DHL (I don't know of any other postal services).
          • USPS doesn't have a monopoly; many people actively use (or have at least heard of or used before) UPS, FedEx, and DHL (I don't know of any other postal services).

            Not to forget to mention the free mail (email) options, like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, etc,...

          • by HUADPE ( 903765 )
            USPS doesn't have a monopoly; many people actively use (or have at least heard of or used before) UPS, FedEx, and DHL (I don't know of any other postal services).

            USPS has an enforced LETTER monopoly. The companies you listed specialize in delivering packages, where USPS does not have an enforced monopoly. Does a monopoly on letters constitute a mail monopoly? I don't know, but it IS the case that they have an enforced monopoly on at least one subset of mail.

            From Wikipedia []

            The USPS holds a statutory

            • by fishbowl ( 7759 )
              >USPS has an enforced LETTER monopoly.

              I wonder what that means for the FedEX LETTER I sent this morning?

              If you're going to say that's not a LETTER it's a PACKAGE, you're going into "No True Scotsman" territory.
              • by HUADPE ( 903765 )
                Did they charge you more than $3? The enforced monopoly is that it is illegal to undercut USPS, or even come close on pricing.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Verisign abuses their monopoly and shouldn't be allowed to keep it. [] 569

        I wonder what is next, after the last renewal they pulled the DNS wild card thing... so what is next?

      • Also, with this extension Verisign retains control of the .com TLD until the end of the known world, which has been known since pre-columbus times to be 2012. They, in my opinion, are hoarding posessions and money on Earth in hopes that they will remain wealthy and powerful in the afterlife. If this deal is not struck down Verisign's wealth will ensure that they have significant control over the afterlife. Ladies and Gentlemen (mostly gentlemen, seeing as this is /. , if they truly can be called gentle i
    • by markov_chain ( 202465 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @03:53PM (#17103296) Homepage
      Yeah, raise prices! That way we can get rid of all those junky hobbyist and personal web sites, and ensure that only high-quality, well-produced sites can stay in business, like,,, etc.</cynical>
      • I, too, am less than thrilled about Verisign having exclusive control. The Internet is designed to be decentralized - we have numerous root DNS servers and a plethroa of ISPs, and it works just fine. I'd like to see a handful of "Official" registrars that can compete with each other are monitored by ICANN.

        That said, don't forget that numerous important registrars (e.g. eNom) exist in addition to Verisign. I admit I'm not quite sure how this works - I guess eNom and others buy domains cheap from Verisign, an
      • We're talking about a maximum 7% rise in 4 years out of 6. Given that domain names cost only $10 per year that's peanuts.

        Give the continuing depreciation of the dollar and the fact that .com domains are an international product from the perspective of us folks outside the US it's likely that the price for domain names will continue to fall over the next 6 years, even if the prices get raised.
        • The 7% raise is fine. The raise I found objectionable was that which is high enough to discourage domain squatting. How would you like to pay, say, 4-digit registration fees? Think spectrum licenses.
    • You make a good point, lets expand your theory even farther.

      Lets make it so no cars can be sold for less than $20,000. That way there will be less idiots on the road.
      • That just ensures a higher percentage of rich people, which isn't necessarily analogous.
        • Welcome to......[drum roll please!]....... THE POINT!!! :-) Congrats, you finally made it!
          • by TeraCo ( 410407 )
            Your point is flawed. Increasing the cost of domain registration won't keep idiots out, but it will keep out those who don't want to pay extra for domains. Theoretically this would include people who register thousands of domains they don't want to use. In fact, I'd like to see it go further. 100 dollar minimum for a domain, that gives you 10 years, and keeps out the riffraff.
      • But most of the idiots on the road drive cars that cost far more than $20,000!
        • by x2A ( 858210 )
          So if we also bad all cars that cost at least $20,000, then there'll be NO idiots on the road! ;-)

          • by x2A ( 858210 )
            oops, BAN all cars, not 'bad' them... however you do that :-p

          • Why not just ban idiots?
            • by x2A ( 858210 )
              Because, people start bringing up all sorts of genocide charges against you, claims that being a criple or of a different colour or sexuality doesn't make you an idiot, and of cause there's the extremely attractive female idiots who definitely shouldn't be allowed to drive, but we like to keep 'em around because the pillow talk's less demanding, and scaring them to keep them inline is much easier than a less gullible but less attractive female.

              But other than that, I don't really have any objections to the i
    • I agree. I used to own a specific .com that I used as my personal homepage. It expired as I went to transfer hosting services and some squatter stole it right out from under me, and asked me for 400$ to get it back. Whatever happened to those lawsuits [] anyway? I thought they were getting the pants sued off them for monopolistic tendencies?

      According to [the prosecutions] lawyer, Jesse Markham Jr:

      "ICANN has vacated its government-mandated obligation to maintain competition and prevent discrimination in m

  • by tcdk ( 173945 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @03:44PM (#17103146) Homepage Journal
    Could we get this under control of some kind of international controlled non-profit organization, please?
    • Whine whine whine (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Nothing prevents anyone from setting up competing DNS servers/services/config (It's quite helpful in removing things like and its assorted secondaries from your DNS lookups). It's getting others to use them that's the problem.
    • by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @03:56PM (#17103344)
      Short answer: No.
    • by Kenja ( 541830 )
      "some kind of international controlled non-profit organization"

      The only organizations I can think of like that are tied to various religious groups. So I sure hope we dont hand controll over to them.
      • Okay, I'll bite. Are you saying that the UN is a for-profit organization, or that it is tied to a religious organization? It seems pretty clear that it is an international organization, or at least not a US puppet.
        • by Kenja ( 541830 )
          The UN is not a group you want dealing with any for of internatinal standards controll for comercial entities. Read they're charter some time ( to see what it is they DO do. They will NOT ever setup large server farms within the US and other countries to deal with top level domains.
      • by binkzz ( 779594 )
        "The only organizations I can think of like that are tied to various religious groups. So I sure hope we dont hand controll over to them."

        Yeah, because God knows what they will do to inflict horror and suffering onto the world with managing domain names.
        • by Mike89 ( 1006497 )
          Yeah, because God knows what they will do to inflict horror and suffering onto the world with managing domain names.
          They'll do whatever they want - for starts, would most likely go, albeit being a pretty damn funny religion-mocking site. Hell, if they wanted to be really fussy they could can Slashdot since your post used god's name in vein (and I said Hell - oops, sorry Slashdot)
          • by binkzz ( 779594 )
            I'd hate to think how religious people have raped your family and killed your parents, but I think you're being just slightly paranoid.
            • by Mike89 ( 1006497 )

              I'd hate to think how religious people have raped your family and killed your parents

              .. Huh? For starters, my parents are also religious.

              but I think you're being just slightly paranoid

              Not paranoid, cautious. Why would you give what is virtually complete control over the internet (I know I know, it's more than just websites but for 99% of the population it's WWW and Email) to a group who has external influences as powerful as religion? It's not that they'd definetely misuse it, it's just the possibil

              • by binkzz ( 779594 )
                Who says they would have to have full control?

                Also, it doesn't have to be just one group in control, it could be several groups with different interests.

                I do believe there is a difference in American groups that always try to push their agenda no matter what, and, for instance, European groups. I don't believe putting a religious group in charge would automatically mean they will abuse that power and start banning and censoring. Even though it would probably be illegal for them to do so, and they would be s
  • Higher prices (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2006 @03:44PM (#17103148)
    They make it sound like the contract may not be renewed if they are too agressive with the price hikes. In reality, higher prices means more money to bribe.. er lobby the folks who will be renewing the contract. What is the justification for higher prices? The whole system is automated isn't it?
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @03:46PM (#17103180)
    any subsequent renewal of the contract will occur 'only if it concludes that the approval will serve the public interest in the continued security and stability of the Internet domain name system
    In plain English, "future renewal will depend on the quiet and timely delivery of large quantities of unmarked bills to key decision makers"
  • by Mr. No Skills ( 591753 ) < minus cat> on Monday December 04, 2006 @04:00PM (#17103390) Journal
    Ugh. Like it gets more and more expensive to manage the process of keeping the .com database going. Why does GoDaddy charge my $10 and Verisign charges me $30.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You seem to have little understanding of how domain registries work. They're talking about the registration fee paid by all registrars for every domain in Verisign's TLDs. This is less than $6, and it's being paid whether you use GoDaddy, Verisign, or any other registrar.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Actually, unless they have changed, the registrar I used to work for payed $6.25/domain to Verisign.
  • Is it a coincidence? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @04:08PM (#17103520) Journal
    or is this not when the Mayan calendar predicts that the world as we know it will end?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I guess that's one way of putting it. The mayan calendar predicts a massive change in the earth every 640 years, of which the next is 2012, as you noted. I suppose the end of the world "as we know it" would technically be correct, but a major planetary change, however initially subtle, is definitely coming up according to them.
  • Do we still need the .com domain?
    Why not use the country TLDs instead?

    I think that using country TLDs would have some advantages over using the generic .com, .net etc. domains. For example, when I want to get to the non-English version of say,, I don't know whether I should go to$COUNTRY_TLD, or$COUNTRY_CODE. Therefore I have to go to and look for the language/region selection box.

    Using the country TLDs exclusively would mitigate these problems. To a
    • Do we still need the .com domain?
      Why not use the country TLDs instead?

      Do we need them? Not really.
      Are we going to get rid of them? Nope.

      Most people are stupid and lazy. No one wants to type in the other characters. They are used to just typing .com and, if you change it, they will get scared. Look at just about any site that is not .com and compare the hits to its .org, .net, etc counterpoints. Even if there is no .com but a .net, the .com will have a ton more hits. It has become human nature

      • by ozeki ( 466460 )
        Just open Firefox and type the name you are looking for in the address bar, without the .com. Guess what, there is this new invention called the search engine and when its tied to the browser it will essentially make the domain name business obsolete. Shh nobody tell GoDaddy they might want to try that IPO thing again :P
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MoxFulder ( 159829 )
      Well, some languages are not national languages :-) I mean, let's say you want the Apple web page in Malayalam... that's a language that's spoken by 40 million people in India. What URL would you go to for that page? By comparison, Danish is spoken by only 6 million people, but since it's the national language of Denmark you can easily find it at

      I'd rather see web sites make consistent use of LANGUAGE codes rather than COUNTRY codes, like wikipedia does, e.g: for English, na
      • by sulfur ( 1008327 )
        Actually, it is far more useful to have country codes, not language codes. In some countries (especially smaller ones) a lot of population has native language different from the state/official language. For example, if I am a Spanish speaking person living in the USA, I would be more interested in finding information about prices/products/offers/etc of Apple in the USA, not in Spain. And I would go to and try to switch website language to Spanish if they provide it. Language division makes sense f
      • Whenever you connect to a web site, your browser sends your language preferences. The server can then reply with different versions for different users. In Apache, you can do this quite easily, as I recall, by simply appending the language code to the file name (e.g. for French). For the web, this means you don't need per-language domains, and most protocols have similar features. Geographical domains are more useful, because you often care about things near you; if location is not an issu
  • I can't really say I care very much. Maybe I don't know very well how the internet works, but it seems to me that .com should only be reserved for GLOBAL commercial sites, and all other commercial sites should be .co.[country code] (,,, etc).

    However, that is probably overly idealistic...
    • The US State governments control [2-letter postal abbreviation].us domains.

      * is New York state
      * is the state of Florida
      which means that * is the state of Colorado.

      Now, or something might be feasible...
      • You are incorrect. The domain name for Colorado is/was The other states and DC are this way too. See Wikipedia [] for the list. It seems the domains are deprecated now, as DC and most of the states have switched to .gov or, in some cases, .com names.
  • 2012? (Score:2, Funny)

    Ohhhhh...That's why the Mayan Calendar ends in 2012.
  • Im not being conspirationist here, but why the hell 2012 ? Why not 2013 or 2011 or 2018 ?

    Currently i am seeing many international agreements, datelines, final dates being given at either 2012 or 1 year after or earlier. Some small nato inter-agreements, some datelines for environmental procedures, some trade deadlines. Why 2012 ? whats so special with it ?
  • by dlevitan ( 132062 ) on Monday December 04, 2006 @05:34PM (#17104738)
    I see everyone screaming about the prices going up. I'm not happy about it either, and Verisign will definitely rake in the cash if it increases its prices by 7% 4 times, but its not as bad as everyone out there thinks. We're used to prices in computing going down. But my guess is that Verisign's current prices are needed to maintain the registry servers and staff. I'm sure they make a healthy profit out of it, but that's the goal of any business, and I doubt anyone else could beat them by much.

    In terms of the 7% increases, look at it in terms of inflation. In 6 years, assuming 3% inflation, one would need about $1.20 for each dollar they have today. If Verisign increases rates by 7% four times, That's equivalent to a 30% increase in price. So what we really have is a 10% increase in the price of service, which looks a lot better. Also consider the fact that 6 years is a long time in the Internet/computer world. They may need that extra cash if something comes along that requires massive infrastructure changes.

    Now, I'm not defending Verisign and I'm not saying its right for them to automatically raise prices by 30% over 6 years. I hope they'll show restraint and I personally wish the registrar contract selection was more competitive. But at the same time, I don't think this is a necessarily horrible deal assuming Verisign shows restraint, and its in their best interest not to be seen as a horrible company for the next time that their contract comes up for renewal.
    • Actually, its 1.07*1.07*1.07*1.07 which is 1.31079601 or 31.079601% and 1.03*1.03*1.03*1.03 which is 1.12550881 or 12.550881% (because it compounds). The difference between the two is nearly 19%, or 9% more than what you said.

      That's much more than keeping pace with inflation, and it's not like they're adding any new services either.
      • by Xayma ( 892821 )
        Actually inflation needs to be considered over all 7 years. Assuming they will always increase the price at the first possible opportunity then at the max it will be 19% but that drops back down to 9% increase after the 7 years.
  • They're also gaining control over the release of expired/deleted domains. If a domain expires and gets deleted, Verisign will control whether or not the domain becomes available for anyone to register, or if it gets put up for auction (by Verisign) to the highest bidder. Any independant company that's been reselling domain names is either going to go out of business or have to find another way to make money off domains.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!