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Monday, February 27, 2006


Commentary: ICANN Registrars & Antitrust Law

From the Sherman Act:

Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $10,000,000 if a corporation, or, if any other person, $350,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding three years, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court.

I cite this passage in view of an effort on the part of the ICANN registrar constituency to promote the requirement that registries use only ICANN accredited registrars. ICANN accreditation is not much more than (a) paying a fee to ICANN; (b) demonstrating that you have $70,000 in the bank; (c) having the technological tools and staff to perform the job.

As the registries will necessarily check to ensure that a registrar's equipment is functional and interoperable before it is plugged into their system anyway, ICANN accreditation amounts to nothing more than a payment to ICANN while opening your bankbook for cursory inspection.

Forcing those that already have the necessary skills, tools and business acumen required to run a registrar operation to pay a fee to ICANN just so that they may function as an "accredited" registrar (or otherwise be denied a legitimate business opportunity) strikes me as an unnecessary restraint of trade that may indeed violate antitrust law (all the moreso if actually promoted by a registrar constituency).

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