Public Comment: Revised New gTLD Registry Agreement Including Additional Public Interest Commitments Specification
The New gTLD Registry Agreement is the contractual document between successful New gTLD Applicants and ICANN, and will govern the rights and obligations of new gTLD registry operators.
ICANN proposes to revise the New gTLD Registry Agreement in connection with developments since the last posting of the Applicant Guidebook in June 2012 and a general review of the contractual needs of the new gTLD program. Among the proposed changes, ICANN has added the Public Interest Commitments Specification.
The Public Interest Commitments Specification will require operators of new gTLDs to use only registrars that are party to the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (which is under negotiation). The Public Interest Commitments Specification is also a mechanism to allow registry operators to commit to certain statements made by the registry operator in its application for the gTLD, as well as to specify additional public interest commitments, in either case transforming such commitments into binding contractual obligations that may be enforced by ICANN through a new dispute resolution mechanism that will be available to any party harmed by a registry operator’s failure to comply with such public interest commitments.
Concurrent with this public comment period on the proposed revisions to the agreement, ICANN will also ask each applicant to submit a TLD-specific Public Interest Commitments Specification. ICANN will communicate directly with applicants regarding the details of submitting Public Interest Commitments Specification. ICANN expects to request applicants to submit their Public Interest Commitments Specifications by 5 March 2013, and ICANN plans to have them all posted for public review by 6 March 2013.
The proposed revised New gTLD Registry Agreement is now open for public comment.
The new generic Top-Level Domain (New gTLD) Program was developed to increase competition and choice by introducing new gTLDs into the Internet’s addressing system. The Applicant Guidebook (AGB) was produced to define the program and provide instructions on the application process. Within the AGB, Module 5 contains the draft New gTLD Registry Agreement. This is the document that will be entered into by successful applicants and ICANN before proceeding to the next phase of delegation and will contain the rights and obligations of each New gTLD registry operator. The current version of the New gTLD Registry Agreement, published as part of the AGB in June 2012, requires certain updates and changes before it can be finalized for use by successful applicants.
Each new gTLD application includes business plans and statements of intent regarding applicant plans for operation of the proposed new gTLD registry. For example, some applicants stated in their applications that they intend to implement registration restrictions or heightened rights protection mechanisms above those required in the current draft of the New gTLD Registry Agreement. Outside of community-based applications, there are no mechanisms for requiring these plans and objectives to be incorporated into the New gTLD Registry Agreement. The GAC’s Toronto Communiqué provided advice to the Board of Directors of ICANN that “it is necessary for all of these statements of commitment and objectives to be transformed into binding contractual commitments, subject to compliance oversight by ICANN.” In response to the GAC, the New gTLD Program Committee of the Board has approved a public comment period on a proposed Public Interest Commitments Specification as a mechanism to transform application statements into binding contractual commitments, as well as to give applicants the opportunity to voluntarily submit to heightened public interest commitments. The Public Interest Commitments Specification has been incorporated into the revised New gTLD Registry Agreement as Specification 11 and is being submitted for public comments along with various other updates and changes to the New gTLD Registry Agreement more specifically described in the Summary of Changes, available below.
(*) Comments submitted after the posted Close Date/Time are not guaranteed to be considered in any final summary, analysis, reporting, or decision-making that takes place once this period lapses.