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ICANN Really .Sucks By Saying They Don’t Regulate Content: Anyone Remember .XXX?

According to the news from Domain Forum of China on April 13th,after collecting over 1/3 of a billion dollars in application fees, ICANN attempted to pass off the whole .Sucks issue to law enforcement this week, asking them for an opinion, which is very unlikely to come, of whether the .sucks roll-out violates US or Canadian federal law.

ICANN is quoted as saying it was “concerned about the contentions of illicit actions” by Vox Populi but that it lacks the expertise or jurisdiction to evaluate them”.


Basically ICANN just “ratted out” one of its own applicants to the Feds, asking them to investigate whether a contract that ICANN signed with a registry operator is legal.

ICANN spent Over $4 Million in legal fees according to its tax return they filed this week for their fiscal year ending in June 2014 and they say they “lacks the expertise” to determine whether an application has run afoul of federal law.



When ICANN says “Here’s a registry that’s fully compliant with all ICANN regulations but which may nevertheless be engaged in a pattern of unlawful conduct.” it invites review and government oversight of every other fully compliant Registry.

There is a clear implication that ICANN oversight alone is insufficient to protect the public from unlawful activity by registry operators. If that’s the case, ICANN is essentially asking for government intervention — it is rather ironic that it is seeking this help at a time when it has been asking that same government to give up its oversight role.

ICANN should just register but its reserved. ICANN could register but its going to cost them.

According to sources, the .Sucks registry set the wholesale cost for to $185,000, the cost of a new gTLD application.

The retail cost of is $249,000 at, so the registrar that is lucky enough to get that business will make a cool $64,000 for a domain registration. that beats the hell out of a $1 profit on a .com registration.

Akram Atallah, in trying to punt the problem to the Feds, the head of ICANN’s global domains division is quoted as saying:

“We do not get into the content or the business model or the pricing of a registry”


If ICANN wants to play the “we do not get into the content” card, then there are three letters that preclude that defense in my opinion;


Anyone remember the 7 or so year fiasco involving ICM’s application for .XXX ? It was approved by ICANN then rejected, then approved again only after an Independent Review Panel (IRP) found ICANN acted against it owns rules in denying ICM’s .XXX application.

If you need a refresher course, you can check out the Chronological History of ICM’s Involvement with ICANN from ICANN’s own website.

Does anyone think that the battle over .XXX had nothing to do with content?

It’s not like ICANN didn’t have notice about The Vox Populi Registry Inc. (VOX) plan to charge record high prices for .Sucks registrations, we wrote about their initial plan to charge up to $25K per domain registration, per year in December 2014.

If ICANN read back then we said:

“This is going to be a problem for ICANN and for the New gTLD program”.

Of course back in December The Vox Populi Registry Inc. (VOX) was only one of three applicants, but once they won the private auction for .Sucks, ICANN staff should have been on high alert.

We also questioned in December if ICANN was going to hold VOX to its language in its own application.

Here is a section of VOX’s application for .sucks:

“”18©. What operating rules will you adopt to eliminate or minimize social costs?

“”The registry will seek to create the orderly introduction of domain names in a way that is respectful of trademarks and sensitive to costs.””

A Sunrise period will ensure the protection of rights holders.””

Of course now we know that all trademark holders are not treated equally, by VOX while some trademark holders can get a registration for $250, others who VOX placed on a Premium Domain List will have to pay $2,500 a year

This hardly seems “respectful of rights holders” and sensitive to costs.

Actually the pricing scheme seems abusive to rights holders

The bigger the rights holder and the more the rights holder has protected their marks in the past, the more likely they are going to be placed on the $2,500 per year list.

.Sucks could have charged a Sunrise of $250 for all and would have still made plenty of money and not drawn the Feds into the discussion.

Hogs get fat, pigs get slaughtered. That’s a phrase someone told me a long time ago and stuck. .Sucks might be the best example of that phrase.

Selecting some to pay $2,500 while others can pay $250 is not going going to win hearts and minds. Saying well we were going to charge $25K per year per registration and now its only $2,500 is also not going win hearts and minds either.

We also know that ICANN without public comment made many fundamental changes to its contract with the .sucks registry including the price they had to pay to ICANN.

ICANN which normally charges $.18 a domain registration with a $25K per year minimum had a special term for VOX where they would make up to $1M due to the past history of the applicant with ICANN

When did ICANN abandon its responsibility to properly vet its applicants?

If you have 3 or more UDRP cases against you, your barred under the Applicant Guide Book (AGB) from even applying for a new gTLD.

If you have a criminal record of a felony you are also barred.

There are several bars to enter the new gTLD club but paying your bills with ICANN doesn’t seem to be one.

If you want to collect the big money you need to make the big decisions.

You can’t just collect the gold and punt the problems.

When Uniregistry announced they were asking the Feds if private auctions were “legal” we gave the opinion that they would get “no opinion”. The government is not there to tell you if something your planning on doing is legal or not. If it’s not legal the feds will show up at your office one day and haul your stuff off and charge people.

As for .sucks, like we said when the opinion of the Feds was asked about the legality of private auctions, the Feds will not issue an opinion on if something you’re planning on doing or engaged in is legal.

That is what attorney’s are for.

ICANN you have a team of lawyers and revenue in the hundreds of millions.

Make an assessment, make a call.

Don’t punt with hundreds of millions in the bank.

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