[At-Large] - Price caps - was: The Case for Regulatory Capture at ICANN | Review Signal Blog

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Thu Jun 27 12:56:20 UTC 2019

On Thu, 27 Jun 2019 at 01:28, Karl Auerbach <karl at cavebear.com> wrote:

This goes to the whole ICANN-created concept of domains as a rental good
> rather than property. There could easily be a regime through which the
> ownership of the domain, and the contracting of the service to enable it,
> are two separate transactions.
> I proposed this well more than a decade ago:
> See https://cavebear.com/eweregistry/
> (There's a story about how the name came about, but I'll spare readers
> from it except to mention that it derives from the largely forgotten
> Microsoft Windows "Me".  ;-)
> Here's the lead-in text (typos and the technical error about presenting a
> certificate rather than using it for a digital signature are included):
> .EWE offers permanent domain names for a one-time registration fee.*
>  Names in .EWE never expire.*
> You pay only for domain services; you do not pay yearly rent.
It's not the same thing because it's still a monopoly, so the distinction
between "rent" and "service fee" is one of semantics. Since only your
registry can provide the resolution service, there's no competition. Under
your scheme someone can register a name, but if they don't pay the
maintenance (to you, the only supplier of resolution services) the domain
is in stasis and unusable but still belongs to the owner. This is a
speculator's dream scenario but does nothing to address the monopoly issue.

What I want is for domains to be portable so someone owning a domain can
shop for a resolution provider in a competitive field. This can't be solved
by a single new registry, but by a core rethinking of how domains are

You argue that high prices are good - my wife makes the same argument about
> air travel.

It's not the same argument, you're either not understanding or deliberately

There's no speculative aftermarket for air tickets, in part because
airlines already engage in highly dynamic pricing so to extract maximum
value for each seat.

This isn't about making domain name space "pleasant". It's about
dis-incentavizing speculation and properly resourcing ICANN.

The closest non-tech analogy to domain speculation is concert ticket
scalping. Like there, the "added value" of the speculator is either gaming
the distribution system through insider knowledge and/or being in then
queue first. In that respect, speculation extracts value from the market
rather that adding value. Ticket scalping is generally despised by everyone
except the scalpers (and their agents) and is illegal in a number of

Increasingly, artists or venues are inflating the original pricing of
events so to deter speculators and increase their risk. Removing the price
caps on domains performs the same function, enabling the original vendor to
address market demand rather than leave it in the hands of an aftermarket.

What is generally lost in such discussions that domain name rental -- even
at the current "taxed" rate -- is a minuscule component of the total cost
of maintaining an Internet presence (hosting, programming, content,
promotion). So most people don't complain.

With regard to stakeholderism - I said nothing about representative vs
> direct democracy.  I merely said that the locus of resolving conflicts
> between interests should be vested in each individual human being and
> nowhere else.  Whether those humans express their opinions directly on
> propositions or act through elected representatives does not affect my
> argument that "stakeholderism" is a form of Gerrymandering.

The analogy is pointless, because one can identify in multiple interest
groups. Gerrymandering insists on a single arbitrary silo for every

(By-the-way, you argue that most people do not have the skills or time to
> deal with issues that affect them.  To some degree one can't argue against
> that.  However, I just finished watching a debate between US presidential
> candidates - they were clearly working hard to attract the votes of
> individual people.  So I am a bit skeptical of the notion that people can
> not decide what is best for themselves, that democracy can't work, that
> they must [or will] be protected by a paternalist system formed by those
> who have "stake" - usually a significant financial interest - in outcomes.

That's quite a strawman you've built there. Unfortunately it's not what I'm
advancing, indeed much the opposite. Please re-read.

Evan Leibovitch, Toronto Canada
@evanleibovitch or @el56
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