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[comments-deletes] Fairness is all we ask

Regarding the implementation of the redemption grace

> In fact, it doesn't change the domain registration
> contract in the slightest.
> ....
> After the date of registration, the registrar under
> the original contract had no obligation to do, or 
> not to do, anything at all relative to that name or
> that registrant.

The existing contracts with registrants expressly
state that failure to renew will result in
cancellation of the registration.  And a registrant
should (and does) have a reasonable expectation that
cancellation of the registration includes a reasonably
prompt return of the domain name back to the domain
name pool.

What we have, however, is a 75 day period following
non-renewal during which the domain name is withheld
from the pool, for profit exclusively to the registrar
and registry and to the disadvantage of the former
registrant and all other potential registrants.

I ask:

1. What provision does the Task Force's report make to
return the domain name immediately to the pool if the
registrant expressly chooses NOT to renew the domain,
in effect, to surrender the name at the completion of
its current registration period?

There are MANY domain name holders who see no reason
to end their current registrations prematurely through
a deliberate cancellation during the existing term yet
they have no intention to renew.  It seems a failure
of the current process to not provide a mechanism
whereby these domains can be returned to the pool
immediately without delay.

2. According to the Task Force's report, the RGP
covers only the final 30 days of the 75 day period,
with a shared financial windfall to the registrar and
registry.  But what pricing scheme will be in place
during the first 45 days of the 75 day limbo period? 
Why is this not discussed in the Task Force report?

3. Why does it take 75 days to return a domain name
back to the pool?  Wouldn't the original 45 days of
the auto-renew period be entirely adequate?

4. In light of the fact that registrants are provided
a mere 15 days (or less, depending on the registrar)
to respond to registrar inquiries or risk
cancellation, why should the registrar and registry be
granted an exclusive 30 day or longer period during
which they can then profit at the registrant's
expense?  Such imbalance.

5. Why doesn't the Task Force's report recommend that
registrars and the registry be held responsible for
cancellations / deletions that are not the fault of
the registrant?  Shouldn't responsibility be an
inseparable part of any worthwhile process?

6. Why is a registrant prohibited from profiting
unfairly through cybersquatting, yet the registrar and
registry are granted license to due effectively the
same through RGP?  Both are seeking to profit from a
disadvantaged trademark holder.

7. Where is requirement that registrars must provide
registrants with timely and repeated notices prior to
expiration?  We must remember that registrations go
for extended periods of time, and it easy to forget
when renewal is due.  Clearly, if the domain was
linked to any actively used web site, someone should
get the hint pretty quick when the site is no longer
accessible, but COUNTLESS domain names are merely
registered in name only without a web site.  There
would be no indication of a problem without notice,
and the Task Force's recommendations lack any
provision for notice except in the event of a UDRP

The registrants do not and did not imagine that the
registrar and registry would be taking private,
beneficial interests in domain names following
non-renewal -- in effect registrars/registry taking
advantage of their privileged positions to profit
during a window of opportunity not available to
others.  The high price being charged to the former
registrants is nothing less than an open admission of
the value of this time period.

Here are some recommendations:

A. Registrants should be provided the means to
expressly disavow an intent to renew, and upon
expiration of the contracted term of registration, the
domain name should be returned to the domain pool
promptly for registration by others.

B. Unless there is a good reason why a full 75 days
(that's nearly a quarter of a year) must lapse
following expiration, domains should be returned to
the pool in say, 45 days or less.

C. The registrar and registry should have no more
opportunity to profit from a registrant's failure to
renew than any other third party registrant might
have.  If registrations can be renewed during the 45
day auto-renew period without a $200 cost to the
registrant, then there is little reason why a renewal
in the following 30 days should cost $200.

Specifically, if the RGP is not abolished and it is
deemed acceptable to exploit the "careless, stupid,
and lazy", then I ask why shouldn't everyone (not just
the registrar/registry parties) be able to get in on
the exploitation?  I'm sure many other parties would
even pay for the privilege of joining in on the
action.  Would I support that?  No, but it is more
fair than handing $200 windfalls to parties who seem
to bear no responsibility for the mess they created.

D. The report should expressly discuss whether a
surcharge over the normal registration fees of the
registrar will/may be imposed during the 45 auto-renew
period, should the registrant renew after the
expiration date but prior to the end of the 45 day

E. If, heaven forbid, RGP is maintained, why should it
be any more than 50% of the price of a one year
registration?  For goodness sakes, it doesn't even
actually buy any extra time on the renewed
registration, and it requires no marvel of programming
skill to implement.  In short, it should fair and
reasonable, not exploitative.

F. Whatever the RGP or other fees finally are, the
registrars' required disclosure to the registrant
should (read MUST) give a clear indication as to the
exact amount.  No one should be presented with a
generic statement like "a fee may be charged for
redemption" without stating upfront exactly what that
$200 fee will be, or present a low fee initially only
to raise it over time without the registrant's
knowledge and awareness.

G. A consensus policy requiring timely (and repeated)
notices to the registrant prior to expiration is
needed.  In an electronic age, no one should be
expected to mark their personal calendars regarding
domain name renewals, nor should a registrar/registry
profit because someone forgets.

> some registrars were already engaging in practices
> perceived to be predatory post-expiration of a
> domain name.  The point here is to establish a 
> uniform post-expiration policy

I think the public will appreciate a uniform policy,
but not if it is uniformly predatory.  It still must
be balanced and fair and not bow to the advantages
already in place.

> In many people's minds "cheaper and easier" equates
> to "better than what we have now".  From this,
> should one understand that you believe the policy is
> an improvement over the present state of affairs?

Being that this is the FIRST time the general public
has had an opportunity to comment, I do not think it
entirely fair that we must be limited to either what's
proposed or what was.  Otherwise, why the point of
asking for input?

>From the standpoint that a policy exists (if only a
proposal) compared to what we had before, where there
really was none, clearly progress has been made.

But please try to remember not everyone jets back and
forth to DC, Rio, Bucharest, Amsterdam and wherever,
and to some, indeed MOST people of the world, $200 is
a fortune.  And an unbelievable sum in comparison with
their $12 a year registration.

> This is an initial report, and was not drafted by a
> group of registrars.

True, it was drafted by a committee that lacks
representation in proportion to the impact of its
recommendations, and it will be voted on in an equally
disproportionate manner.

In closing, I do think the Task Force has done a
wonderful job putting together a set of procedures
that make sense, and I want to commend Jordyn for
taking the time to reach out for suggestions
personally.  I just ask, on behalf of the millions of
people who have registered names and don't have the
foggiest idea what ICANN is, much less even aware that
this process is going on, that we consider the missing
pieces and the forgotten folks.  In the final
analysis, they ARE the ones who make it all happen.

Marcia Wells

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