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Proposed Revised Process for Handling Requests for Removal of Cross-Ownership Restrictions on Operators of Existing gTLDs

Comment/Reply Periods (*) Important Information Links
Comment Open: 16 May 2012
Comment Close: 6 June 2012
Close Time (UTC): 23:59 UTC Public Comment Announcement
Reply Open: 7 June 2012 To Submit Your Comments (Forum Closed)
Reply Close: 28 June 2012 View Comments Submitted
Close Time (UTC): 23:59 UTC Report of Public Comments
Brief Overview
Originating Organization: ICANN
Categories/Tags:

Contracted Party Agreements

Purpose (Brief): To receive public comment for Board consideration on the Proposed Revised Process for Handling Requests for Removal of Cross-Ownership Restrictions on Operators of Existing gTLDs.
Current Status:

Existing registries do not currently have a process to seek removal of cross-ownership restrictions related to names in the TLDs they operate.

Next Steps:

Following Public Comment, staff will summarize and provide to Board for consideration of revised proposal.  The Board will then take action on the Proposal.

Staff Contact: Kurt Pritz, Sr. VP, Stakeholder Relations Email: kurt.pritz@icann.org
Detailed Information
Section I: Description, Explanation, and Purpose

To seek public comment on a proposed process whereby existing registries may ask to amend their agreements so that they can vertically integrate with respect to selling domain name registrations in the TLDs that they operate.

Section II: Background

On 20 June 2011, ICANN approved a process, by which existing gTLD registries could request relief from cross ownership restrictions on registrars to sell domain names in new gTLDs (see http://www.icann.org/en/resources/registries/removal-cross-ownership).  The recommendation was based on extensive independent analysis and community discussion.

The registry agreements that are currently in place have cross ownership restrictions. The Board resolution approving the process stated, “consideration of modification of existing agreements to allow cross-ownership with respect to the operation of existing gTLDs is deferred pending further discussions including with competition authorities.”

That process did not allow the lifting of restrictions on the existing gTLD registries from owning or controlling a registrar that sells domains in their own existing registries (see http://www.icann.org/en/minutes/resolutions-20jun11-en.htm).

In preparation for lifting this last set of restrictions, exchanges have occurred with competition authorities that have expressed interest in this issue. With an understanding and consideration of the concerns and issues raised by those authorities relating to market power, ICANN is now ready to post a revised process that would allow existing registry operators to request removal of cross-ownership restrictions for the gTLDs that they operate.

Commencing a public comment period on the proposed revised process at this time is intended to solicit community input for Board consideration.  The proposed revised process is posted in redline against the process that was approved on 20 June 2011.

Section III: Document and Resource Links
http://www.icann.org/en/resources/registries/proposed-removal-cross-ownership-16may12-en.pdf [PDF, 304 KB]
Section IV: Additional Information

None


(*) Comments submitted after the posted Close Date/Time are not guaranteed to be considered in any final summary, analysis, reporting, or decision-making that takes place once this period lapses.

Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."