Many charities and other non-profit organisations that use .org, .biz or .info domains have complained that proposals to lift the price cap on those domains could lead to the price rocketing.
What Price Cap?
The price cap on .org domains was originally put in place by the US Department of Justice at a time when only a few top-level domains were available and offered a level of price protection to the mainly non-profit groups and organisations that used those domains.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) oversees the web’s domain name system and is the organisation that has made the proposal to lift the price cap after having discussions with the Public Interest Registry, a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, and Registry Operator for the .org top-level domain (TLD).
Icann launched a consultation “Proposed Renewal of .org Registry Agreement” on a forum on its website throughout March in order to obtain community input and to encourage debate among those involved with domains. The consultation ended on the 29th April, and the resulting report is due on the 30th May.
Many organisations and interested parties have complained about the proposed .org renewal agreement. For example, registrar Namecheap has said that the move would put prices up, and that with switching domains being hard, organisations will be left little option but to pay the higher prices.
It appears that most holders of .org domains, companies selling domain names, ISPs and net marketing firms have objected to the proposal.
Critics of Icann’s proposal to remove the price cap have said that Icann appears to be doing so for administrative convenience rather than for the public interest.
Icann has justified the proposal to drop the price cap by saying that when the cap was introduced there were only a few top-level options available for organisations wanting to register a domain name, whereas there are now around 1200 different options. This could mean, therefore, that price protection for a few choice domains may longer be necessary.
Icann has also pointed out that even if there are price increases, domain registrants will be given a minimum six-month notice of any price increase, and that they can effectively protect themselves against price increases by renewing their registrations for as many as 10 years prior to the change taking effect.
One other possible option that has been raised online is ICANN’s Non-Commercial Stakeholders Group reportedly suggesting that price caps should remain but could be raised by a reasonable level from their current level of 10% per year.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The thought of increased costs and domain price instability for non-profit organisations that need to use their money for their causes is proving to be a very unpopular idea. Also, for those organisations (particularly larger ones) that have already established a presence online with a .org (.biz or .info), switching to another type of domain is likely to be difficult, costly in many ways, and is likely to be making many organisations feel angry at feeling forced into a position where they’ll have no option but to accept the new higher prices as a result of remaining with their .org (if the proposal goes ahead).
As Icann has pointed out, however, there would be some consolation with organisations being able to renew their registrations for as many as 10 years prior to the change taking effect.
The report from the consultation is due on the 30th May, so it’s a case of waiting until beyond that date to get a clearer indication of what Icann will do.