Purpose: The purpose of this Public Comment proceeding is to obtain community input on the proposed renewal of the .AERO Registry Agreement (herein referred to as the .AERO renewal agreement). This renewal agreement is the result of bilateral discussions between the ICANN organization and SITA Information Networking Computing USA, Inc. (SITA), the registry operator for the .AERO top-level domain (TLD).
Current Status: The current .AERO Registry Agreement (herein referred to as current .AERO agreement) will expire on 10 September 2021. Section 4.2 of the current .AERO agreement provides that it shall be renewed upon the expiration of the initial term set forth in Section 4.1.
Next Steps: Following review of the Public Comments received, ICANN org will prepare and publish a summary and analysis of the comments. Input provided will be taken into consideration in ICANN org's decision regarding the proposed .AERO renewal agreement.
Section I: Description and Explanation
The proposed .AERO renewal agreement is based on the current .AERO agreement with modifications agreed upon by ICANN org and SITA, and incorporates various terms of the base Registry Agreement modified for a legacy TLD (such as the .MUSEUM Registry Agreement and .COOP Registry Agreement). Listed below is a summary of both a) material differences between the proposed .AERO renewal agreement and the base Registry Agreement, and b) provisions in the proposed .AERO renewal agreement that are materially different from the way .AERO currently operates.
Material differences between the proposed .AERO renewal agreement and the base Registry Agreement:
- Emergency Transition (3.1(c)(ix) and Continued Operation Instrument (Section 2.12 and Specification 8 of the base Registry Agreement): The provision to designate an emergency interim registry operator if emergency thresholds for registry functions are reached is included. However, the Continued Operation Instrument requirement will not apply to the .AERO TLD as it has been in continuous operation since 2001. As a result, provisions in Section 4.3(b) and (c) of the base Registry Agreement (Termination by ICANN) are not applicable to the .AERO TLD and, therefore, not included. This is consistent with other legacy TLDs who have adopted the Emergency Transition provisions.
- Registry Interoperability and Continuity (Section 2.7 and Specification 6 of the base Registry Agreement): Section 6 of Specification 6 of the base Registry Agreement (Name Collision Occurrence Management) will not apply to the .AERO TLD as it has been in operation since 2001. This is consistent with other legacy TLD Registry Agreement renewals.
- Pass Through Fees related to the Trademark Clearinghouse (Section 6.4 of the base Registry Agreement): This requirement will not apply to the .AERO TLD as it has been in continuous operation since 2001. As a result, provisions in Section 6.4 of the base Registry Agreement are not applicable to the .AERO TLD and, therefore, not included. This is consistent with other legacy TLD Registry Agreement renewals.
- Fees to be Paid to ICANN (Section 7.2 of the proposed renewal agreement): The registry operator is to pay either the annual Fixed Registry-Level Fee or the quarterly Registry-Level Transaction Fee as specified in Section 7.2(a). The registry operator will continue the Fixed Registry-Level Fee based on the level of registered names within the TLD as of June 30th of each year. The fee will be (i) $500 for fewer than 5,000 registered names, and (ii) $5,000 for more than 5,000 but fewer than 50,000 registered names. If there are more than 50,000 registered names, Sponsor will be subject to the Registry-Level transaction fee set forth in Section 7.2(c).The registry operator's Transaction Fee will be US$0.25 for each annual increment of an initial or renewal domain name registration during the calendar quarter to which the Registry-Level Transaction-Fee pertains as indicated in Section 7.2(c). These fees are consistent with the current .AERO Registry Agreement.
- Obligations of Registry Operator as a Sponsored TLD (Specification 12): .AERO will maintain the "sponsorship" TLD designation and reflects a modification to the existing Appendix S which moved to Specification 12. As such, .AERO will maintain the "sponsored" TLD designation.
Provisions in the proposed .AERO renewal agreement that are materially different from the way .AERO currently operates (all references below are from the proposed .AERO renewal agreement):
- Approved Services (Exhibit A): The Approved Services for .AERO are the same as thAgreement plus the WHOIS Contact Lookup service. The Approved Services for .AERO include a 270-day implementation grace period to allow sufficient time for SITA to complete the transition of its technical operations to meet the requirements of the proposed renewal agreement.
- Protection of Legal Rights of Third Parties (Section 3.1(c)(v) and Specification 7): This is the same as base Registry Agreement, except provisions relating to launch of the TLD and Trademark Clearinghouse Requirements removed. Reference to Registration Restriction Dispute Resolution Procedure (RRDRP) is included.
- Registry Code of Conduct (Section 3.1(c)(vi) and Specification 9): The registry operator will be required to abide by the Code of Conduct per the base Registry Agreement except the provision regarding activation of up to 100 names necessary for operation or promotion of the TLD have be removed as the TLD has been in operation since 2001.
- Public Interest Commitments (Section 3.1(c)(viii) and Specification 11): There is no specific concept in the existing .AERO agreement. The registry operator is required to follow the same public interest commitments for .AERO as in the base Registry Agreement.
- Cost Recovery for RSTEP (Section 7.2 (e)): Consistent with the base Registry Agreement, where the registry operator is responsible for costs if a request for approval Additional Services pursuant to Section 3.1(c)(iii) are referred to the Registry Services Technical Evaluation Panel ("RSTEP").
- Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) Global Amendment (Specification 4): The registry operator will incorporate new terms, in both form and substance, related to Registration Data Directory Services resulting from an approved RDAP Global Amendment.
- Schedule of Reserved Names (Specification 5): Updated to be consistent with base Registry Agreement including the new provisions requiring the registry operator to reserve certain country and territory names, with a few exceptions for a legacy TLD. The .AERO renewal agreement amends Section 2 of Specification 5 (Two-Character ASCII Labels) allowing the registry operator to allocate two-character labels that were reserved in prior Registry Agreements. The allocation of two-character labels is subject to the Registration Policy and Post Registration Complaint Investigation provisions, as stated in Appendix A of the Authorization for Release of Letter/Letter Two-Character ASCII Labels at The Second Level issued to all new gTLD registry operators on 13 December 2016. Additionally, the provision on the registry operator's use of up to 100 names for the operation and promotion of the TLD (Section 3.2) and the provisions on activation of names relating to International Olympic Committee, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (Section 5), and names relating to Intergovernmental Organizations Section (Section 6) are of no force or effect in the proposed .AERO renewal agreement.
- Misc. Provisions: Various other provisions have been modified to either align with terms previously included in the current .AERO agreement or with terms currently included in the base Registry Agreement.
Contractual Compliance Review: As part of the renewal process, ICANN org conducted a review of contractual compliance under the current .AERO agreement. SITA was found to be in compliance with their contractual requirements for the .AERO TLD.
Posted for public comment are both clean and "redline" versions of the Registry Agreement that is proposed to be executed by the parties:
Section II: Background
ICANN org and SITA entered into the current sponsored .AERO Registry Agreement on 11 June 2009 for operation of the .AERO TLD.
In addition to the .AERO Registry Agreement, the Registry Agreements of several "legacy" gTLDs, namely the .MUSEUM, .NET, .MOBI, .JOBS, .TRAVEL, .CAT, .PRO, .ASIA, .BIZ, .INFO, and .ORG Registry Agreements, have been renewed as a result of bilateral negotiations between ICANN org and the applicable registry operator. These renewed agreements can be viewed at: https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/registries/registries-agreements-en.