Vox Populi has agreed to pay ICANN up to $1 million in extra fees in order to pay off the debts of affiliated deadbeat registrars, I can reveal.
The formerly mysterious fees, which comprise a $100,000 start-up payment and $1 for each of its first 900,000 .sucks transactions, were discovered by ICANN’s Intellectual Property Constituency, as I reported Friday.
I speculated that the payments may have related to ICANN padding out its legal defense fund, rather like it did with .xxx a few years ago, but it turns out that guess was dead wrong.
ICANN has told DI:
Some affiliates of Momentous, the majority owners of Vox Populi Registry, had previously defaulted on substantial payments to ICANN. Given this previous experience, ICANN negotiated special contract provisions in the Vox Populi Registry Agreement to provide additional financial assurances. Those provisions were added solely for that reason and were not related to the nature of this specific TLD.
I gather that the affiliated companies in question were shell registrars that went out of business a while ago.
Momentous company Pool.com used large numbers of empty registrar accreditations in order to drop-catch expiring domain names. Fairly standard practice in the drop-catching game.
But many of these entities were shut down, owing ICANN a whole bunch of cash in unpaid registrar fees.
ICANN has now chosen to recoup the money by extracting it from the .sucks registry, which according to its new gTLD application is majority-owned by Momentous.
The .sucks contract calls the $100,000 a “registry access fee” and the $1-a-name charge as “registry administration fee”.
For avoidance of doubt, this post is not an April Fool joke.