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03|14|2013 02:36 pm EDT

CSC buys Melbourne IT’s DBS for $152MM AUD

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Registrars, Up to the Minute

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As reported by a number of sources, Melbourne IT (ASX:MLB) is selling it’s Digital Brand Management (DBS) to Corporation Services Company (CSC) for $152.5 million AUD. Melbourne IT had originally purchased the Digital Brand Management unit from VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN) for $50MM USD in 2008 and merged it with their existing corporate clients.

01|14|2013 12:12 pm EDT

And here is the court order that stopped the deletion of publication.com

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Registries

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In the case of the non-deletion of publication.com last Friday, DNN has now obtained a copy of the court order that prevented the deletion and you can see it here (PDF). Please note that this is the unsigned version of the restraining order as it was currently published by the court, but DNN does have a copy of the signed version as well. The order was enacted by Hon. Stanley R. Chesler, the United States District Judge for New Jersey at 10:30am EST the day of the deletion.

As background information, there are some additional documents showing an email exchange on the evening preceding the scheduled deletion between the registrant of the domain, Blake Ellman and James Hubler, Senior Corporate Counsel at Verisign. In the emails Hubler agrees to stop the deletion of the domain if a court order meeting the following conditions is received before 11am on the day of the deletion:

  1. Because of jurisdiction considerations, a federal court order is required.
  2. The order should direct Verisign as a non-party to the suit to remove the subject domain name from pending delete status.

We were not able to locate any other suit as referred to in the exchange. Since the deletion of the name was stopped, Verisign did accept the order of the District Court.

The complaint also includes some background information that states that the domain in question was deleted due to an “inadvertent mistake of ‘Dotster/domain.com’“. DNN has reached out to the other involved parties for comment.

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01|12|2013 04:56 pm EDT

Publication.com deletion stopped by court order

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Registries

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Many domain investors were wondering yesterday why Publication.com was renewed during the deletion process. VeriSign (VRSN) apparently received a court order forbidding them to delete the domain.

Here is an official statement from VeriSign that we received a few minutes ago:

The status of publication.com was changed as the result of a court order. Verisign responds to lawful court orders subject to our technical capabilities. When the company is presented with such lawful orders impacting domain names within our registries, we respond within our technical capabilities.

01|11|2013 02:54 pm EDT

Why did publication.com not drop today?

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Registries

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The name publication.com was scheduled to be deleted today and had a large number of interest with the various backorder platforms – for example over 170 bidders at Namejet and pre-bids over $3,000. The drop just completed, yet the name was not deleted.

[Update]: The deletion was apparently prevented with a court order against VeriSign (VRSN).

Here is the whois as it was displayed earlier today:

Domain Name: PUBLICATION.COM
Registrar: DOMAIN.COM, LLC
Whois Server: whois.domain.com
Referral URL: http://www.domain.com
Name Server: NS1.NAC.NET
Name Server: NS2.NAC.NET
Name Server: NS6.NAC.NET
Status: pendingDelete
Updated Date: 05-jan-2013
Creation Date: 24-oct-1995
Expiration Date: 23-oct-2012

However when we checked the domain name during the early drop, it had been redeemed – something that I didn’t think was possible when a domain is in “pending-delete” status.

Domain Name: PUBLICATION.COM
Registrar: DOMAIN.COM, LLC
Whois Server: whois.domain.com
Referral URL: http://www.domain.com
Name Server: NS1.NAC.NET
Name Server: NS2.NAC.NET
Name Server: NS6.NAC.NET
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Updated Date: 11-jan-2013
Creation Date: 24-oct-1995
Expiration Date: 23-oct-2013

If you check the domain name now, it has been renewed by another five years. Judging from our records, the update happened after 2pm EST, while the drop was running already:

Domain Name: PUBLICATION.COM
Registrar: DOMAIN.COM, LLC
Whois Server: whois.domain.com
Referral URL: http://www.domain.com
Name Server: NS1.NAC.NET
Name Server: NS2.NAC.NET
Name Server: NS6.NAC.NET
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Updated Date: 11-jan-2013
Creation Date: 24-oct-1995
Expiration Date: 23-oct-2018

DNN has reached out to VeriSign for comment.

12|19|2012 05:22 pm EDT

VeriSign to increase .NET prices by 10% on July 1st, 2013

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Registries

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Verisign - Domain Name Registration, DDoS and DNS ManagementVeriSign (NASDAQ:VRSN) just announced that intends to increase the .NET domain registration pricing by 10% on July 1st, 2013, bringing the price for registrars from $5.11 per domain name year to $5.62. The announcement about the increase for .NET fees follows the agreement with the Department of Commerce and VeriSign that it would not increase .COM prices unless there are significant cost increases in operating the TLD. The price change was announced via a press release on the company’s website. At least one registrar told DNN they have yet to receive a notification about the increase.

VeriSign also just lost their spot in the NASDAQ-100 index earlier this week.

08|16|2012 02:44 pm EDT

VeriSign publishes new video promoting .TV

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Registries

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VeriSign (NASDAQ: VRSN) just published a new video yesterday promoting .TV domain names. Earlier this year Tuvalu had renewed the contract with the company until 2021.

06|13|2012 05:49 pm EDT

Will new gTLDs drive up value of corresponding .com domains?

by Adam Strong in Categories: new gTLDs

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Some domainer owners watching the news about the new gTLD applications may have had a pleasant surprise today. Domain owners that own a .com domain that has a corresponding new TLD application may just have learned about increases in traffic and possibly value to their .com holding.

Clearly many of the applicants for new TLDs such as ABC, IBM, FedEx, or Google already own the matching .com domain names, but with this announcement we’ve learned of hundreds of new generic TLD applicants that do not own the corresponding .com.

New TLD proponents will argue that it is unneccessary and maybe even counter-intuitive for an applicant to purchase the .com corresponding to a new TLD that they are applying for, but others in the domain space point to confusion that already exists between other domain extension.  As new TLDs market themselves, a resulting confusion in the marketplace drives more traffic to the .com

A perfect example of this can be seen with the .xxx domain extension and the xxx.com domain name.  The .xxx sunrise ended October 2011. According to Compete.com the traffic to the domain began to increase shortly after the sunrise and has doubled from levels seen prior to the .xxx extension approval.

Domain name broker Andrew Rosener told DNN that the increased visibility, promotion & traffic going to xxx.com has significantly raised the value of his clients domain name. He also stated, “I have several clients with matching .com domains who were very excited to hear the news today.”

Elliot Silver weighed in recently with this prediction on his blog :

Owners of the keyword string .com names are going to be very happy. Some registries will feel the need to buy the corresponding .com names and pay a lot of money for them. In addition, there will likely be a ton of error traffic that pays well.

While millions of dollars are being pumped in to the domain space to set up new TLDs, a handful of .com domain owners may benefit as well. Those with comparable .com domain names should see gains in traffic and exposure from the marketing efforts of the new TLDs launching in 2013.

04|25|2012 02:35 pm EDT

ICANN Public Comment Period for .com Registry Agreement with Verisign ends Tomorrow

by Frank Michlick in Categories: ICANN / Policy

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The ICANN public comment period for the .com Registry Agreement renewal with VeriSign ends tomorrow on Thursday April 26th at 23:59 UTC.

You can submit comments via to com-renewal@icann.org. In the second “reply” phase replies to the comments can be submitted limited to those who commented in the first phase – this phase will end on May 17th 2012.

The 14 comments submitted to date can be read on the site here.

The proposed agreement suggests to keep the .COM contract with VeriSign without opening it to competitive bidding, a process that when done with the .NET registry in 2005 resulted in lower .NET registry pricing ($5.89 per Domain Name Year). The proposed extension would allow VeriSign to increase registrations fees by 7% in four of the next six years, potentially bringing up the price from the current $7.85 to $10.29 by 2016.

In case some of you feel strongly about the anti-competitive nature of the .com renewal, you may also want to consider a submission to the US Department of Justice.

[Hat tip to George Kirikos]

10|11|2011 03:59 pm EDT

Verisign domain takedown proposal very worrisome

by Mark Jeftovic in Categories: Editorial, ICANN / Policy

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The following post was originally published on the EasyDNS blog by entrepreneur Mark Jeftovic and was syndicated with his kind permission.
Under a proposed Verisign initiative, all .COM/.NET domains exist at the pleasure of the United States government.

Verisign just released an overview of their proposed “Anti-Abuse Domain Use Policy” Under ICANN’s Registry Services Evaluation Process. The program’s chief aim is to provide a takedown mechanism of malicious websites distributing malware. In itself, not a bad thing, considering some registrars are unresponsive toward abuse or network stability issues.

However, lumped in with the conditions under which Verisign can invoke their takedown capabilities are some troubling “add ons”, as quoted below:

The new anti-abuse policy, would be implemented though a change to the .com. ,net and .name Registry Registrar Agreements and would allow the denial, cancellation or transfer of any registration or transaction or the placement of any domain name on registry lock, hold or similar status as necessary:

(a) to protect the integrity, security and stability of the DNS;

(b) to comply with any applicable court orders, laws, government rules or requirements, requests of law enforcement or other governmental or quasi-governmental  agency, or any dispute resolution process;

(c) to avoid any liability, civil or criminal, on the part of Verisign, as well as its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers, directors, and employees;

(d) per the terms of the registration agreement,

(e) to respond to or protect against any form of malware (defined to include, without limitation, malicious code or software that might affect the operation of the Internet),

(f) to comply with specifications adopted by any industry group generally recognized as authoritative with respect to the Internet (e.g., RFCs),

(g) to correct mistakes made by Verisign or any Registrar in connection with a domain name registration, or

(h) for the non-payment of fees to Verisign. Verisign also reserves the right to place upon registry lock, hold or similar status a domain name during resolution of a dispute;

The main problem here is Section (b), which let’s Verisign takedown any domain that is inimical toward a government “requirement” or at the “request” of a law enforcement or other governmental or quasi-governmental agency.

What does this mean?

It means domains can be taken down without judicial process and in the absence of any overt network abuse. I refer anybody who thinks the possibility of abuse of this policy is remote to the actions of Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman,  last December regarding Wikileaks – an entity which has still never been charged with any offence in any jurisdiction and which continues to operate in a perfectly legal manner. (Lieberman called on “any company or organization that is hosting Wikileaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them.” – Which sounds like a “request” to me.)

What Wikileaks did was expose bad actions of the various governments themselves, some of those – illegal. It can be assumed that governments that are acting against the interests of their constituents or committing actual crimes have a “requirement” that everybody shuts up about it. Thus any whistleblower, journalist or egregious truth-teller using a domain under .com or .net to bringing light on issues such as these could find themselves with their domain unplugged under this policy.

In the case of Wikileaks, Lieberman’s staff telephoned various web services providers and demanded that they sever ties and cease providing services.  Next time all they would have to do is call Verisign and tell them that the government “requires” them to takedown their domain. (Of course, Wikileaks is under .org, not .com or .net, but next time it may not be Wikileaks. Maybe it’ll be Zerohedge. Maybe it’ll be easyDNS. Maybe it’ll be you.)

Under the proposed rules, it’s not just the government that could initiate takedowns but even “quasi” governmental agencies. What’s a quasi-governmental agency?  It’s a government created entity that undertakes commercial activities on behalf of the government. That would mean entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation could takedown any .com or .net domain based on having a “requirement” or making a “request” to do so.

Section (c) is also troublesome: providing that Verisign can takedown any domain to avoid liability to themselves. So if other avenues of removing a troublesome domain fail, you could just simply sue, or threaten to sue Versign and they can unplug the underlying domain.

Last year the US Department of Homeland Security (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) began a series of domain takedowns intended to enforce copyright violations. In one case they seized a third-level domain provider (mooo.com) which resulted in the takedown of over 84,000 unrelated and innocent websites.

Since the ICE takedowns were arbitrary and widening in scope, there became a perceived benefit to using non-US based Registrars for domain registration, as the takedowns were being implemented via court orders to those US-based registrars.

If this policy goes into effect, there are no safer jurisdictions for any .com or .net domain anywhere in the world. They all come under US government, quasi-governmental and law enforcement agency “requirements”.

The Verisign proposal concedes that:

Registrants may be concerned about an improper takedown of a legitimate website.  Verisign will be offering a protest procedure to support restoring a domain name to the zone.

Which is not very comforting. What is the “protest procedure” and how long will it take? Will a contested takedown put the domain in an online or offline state while the procedure is implemented, and how long does that take?

Proposed Modifications

If this is to move forward, our recommendations are as follows:

  • Section b should be stricken, and the current model that government inspired domain takedowns be requested via the Registrar of record be retained.
  • In cases of court-ordered takedowns, Verisign should only intercede in the case of a non-responsive Registrar and again, under a court order.
  • Section c should be stricken. Verisign already insulates itself from liability in its Agreements with Registrars and under the various Registrant Agreements already in place. This should not be a back-door method into taking down a domain.
  • If a Registrar feels a false-positive takedown has occurred, there needs to be a mechanism to bring the domain back online immediately pending the outcome of a challenge or disputed takedown.

Editorial Add-on by Frank Michlick

I completely agree with the comments by Mark, but I’d like to one step further and comment on the plan to pro-actively scan the domain registration base for malware sites as highlighted in the Domain Name Wire article on the same topic. While I am not a lawyer, I think it is very dangerous grounds for a registry operator to start actively monitoring registered domain names for their content and its compliance with laws. Once a registry does this as a pro-active service, it could imply that the registry becomes liable for sites that it misses in its scans, since it should be aware of the content of the sites for the domains registered through them. I think that a registry should act as a technology provider and facilitator the registry should not be active in developing the policy that decides what is illegal and what isn’t.

08|31|2011 05:03 pm EDT

More Than 215 Million Domain Names Registered World Wide

by Frank Michlick in Categories: News

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Verisign has released their latest issue of their quarterly Domain Industry Brief (PDF) today.

The second quarter of 2011 closed with a base of more than 215 million domain name registrations across all Top Level Domains (TLDs), an increase of 5.2 million domain names, or 2.5 percent over the first quarter. registrations have grown by more than 16.9 million, or 8.6 percent, since the second quarter of 2010.The base of Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) was 84.6 million domain names, a 3.6 percent increase quarter over quarter, and an 8.4 percent increase year over year in the base.

The .com and .net TLDs experienced aggregate growth, surpassing a combined total of 110 million names in the
second quarter of 2011. This represents a 1.8 percent increase in the base over the first quarter of 2011 and an 8.3 percent increase over the same quarter in 2010. new .com and .net registrations totaled 8.1 million during the quarter. This reflects a 2.0 percent increase year over year in new registrations, and a 2.3 percent decrease in new registrations from the first quarter.

The order of the top TLDs in terms of zone size changed slightly compared to the first quarter, as .cn (China) moved from ninth to eighth largest TLD, dropping .eu (european union) from eighth to ninth.The largest TLDs in terms of base size were, in order, .com, .de (Germany), .net, .uk (united Kingdom), .org, .info, .nl
(netherlands), .cn, .eu and .ru (russian federation).

For the full website, read “The State of the Domain” on the Verisign Site.