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GoDaddy Floats ICANN $100K for Defense

Officials at Go Daddy Software, one of the largest registrars, are set to give the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) $100,000 to fund that organization's legal battle against VeriSign .

The Scottsdale, Ariz., company announced the pledge Wednesday morning, as well as an open letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) and various members of the Senate and House of Representatives, to combat the registry and its lawsuit filed last week against ICANN.

The lawsuit revolves around a number of issues, including the waiting-list service (WLS), a program instituted by VeriSign to consolidate soon-to-be-expired domain names under a service it provides. Ostensibly, VeriSign officials said WLS was designed to prevent the "professional scalping" of domain names, where registrars take money from people who want expiring domain names.

Under the WLS schema, VeriSign would charge customer $24 to be placed on the WLS, cutting out the registrar middleman. Those registrars quickly banded together in July 2003 and filed a lawsuit against ICANN in order to stop the organization from ratifying the proposal.

Initially, ICANN did just that but subsequently rescinded the idea and told VeriSign it would discuss the matter before approving WLS.

Bob Parsons, GoDaddy CEO, said that while publicly traded companies like VeriSign have a right to roll out new services to enhance shareholder value, when dealing with Internet governance there's more to it than just making money.

"There comes a time when you have to balance the public good with what the company's doing," he told internetnews.com. "If you're going to generate a profit at the expense of the well-being of the Internet and the consumers, our whole economy says, 'well, that's thumbs down.' "

There's no small amount of irony in GoDaddy's move to support ICANN, given the company's participation in "The Domain Justice Coalition," a group of registrars that -- one day after VeriSign's suit -- itself filed a lawsuit against the embattled ICANN.

This time around, however, the registrar has nothing to do with the coalition's lawsuit, company general counsel Christine Jones told internetnews.com. She said GoDaddy is not a plaintiff and that this time around there are only eight plaintiffs representing the coalition in the lawsuit against ICANN and VeriSign.

Company officials said WLS and VeriSign's handling of SiteFinder, a service that redirects misspelled domain names to a sponsored VeriSign advertising page, are enough to prove the company is guilty of failing to meet its fiduciary responsibilities. The introduction of these services, according to its contract with ICANN and the DoC, is supposed to first get approval before launching new services.

Parsons said the goal for registrars like GoDaddy is to get ICANN to refrain from making a decision on WLS, and in this case VeriSign unwitting or not helped them out. ICANN's board of directors, originally scheduled to discuss the issue at its closed-doors meeting Saturday at its tri-annual meetings in Rome, are unlikely to make a decision one way or the other now.

"ICANN is very skittish when they have pending litigation - they don't like to make statements and they don't like to put things on the record," Jones said. "So, it wouldn't be surprising to me at all if they deferred a decision yet again."

GoDaddy has set up a Web site containing all its grievances against VeriSign at the site RecallVeriSign.com, with an online petition that will be forwarded to the DoC.

Corrects headline in prior version



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