Reassignment of .org Top-Level Domain: Responses to Questions

Posted: 24 May 2002
Updated: 14 June 2002

Please be sure to check this web page for updates immediately before you submit your application.

Reassignment of .org Top-Level Domain: Responses to Questions

The following are responses to questions received concerning the draft .org request-for-proposal materials by 13 May 2002 at <org-apps@icann.org>. These questions were submitted by prospective applicants following the procedures described in the [Draft] Application Instructions for the .org Top-Level Domain. Questions and responses are being posted to provide all prospective applicants with the same information.

NOTE: Additional responses may be posted. Please check back.

Note regarding requests for data concerning current .org registry: Several prospective applicants submitted requests for additional information they consider useful to prepare their applications. ICANN has conferred with the current operator of the .org top-level domain, VeriSign, Inc., regarding obtaining a set of data to be provided to prospective applicants, and expects that data will be available in approximately one week. Because of competitive considerations and legal requirements, prospective applicants will be required to enter into a non-disclosure agreement with VeriSign, before receiving this non-public data. Any prospective applicant wishing to obtain this data should send a request for the non-disclosure agreement to <org-apps@icann.org>. ICANN will then send the non-disclosure agreement to the applicant, which should sign it and return it to ICANN. To keep the identity of prospective applicants confidential until the application deadline, ICANN will (in the absence of their apparent breach) keep the signed non-disclosure agreements until the application deadline, at which time they will be turned over to VeriSign.

Responses to questions:

Question 1: What sum of US$ will be passed to the successor registry operator in respect of domains on the .org database as at 31st December 2002, where registration revenue has been invoiced or paid to Verisign and where a proportion of that revenue is in respect of the remaining registration period subsequent to 31st December 2002?

Answer to Question 1: The applicable legal agreement does not provide for VeriSign to make any payment to the successor .org registry operator to account for revenues VeriSign has already received by the turnover date for registration periods in the future. Correspondingly, it does not provide for the successor registry operator to make any payment to VeriSign to account for the value of the existing customer base at turnover.

Question 2: What levels and type of handover support will be provided to the successor registry, and for what duration, at no charge? If it is envisaged that handover support would be charged to the successor registry, please provide an estimate of charges and the basis on which charges would be made.

Answer to Question 2: Under subsection 5.2.3 of the current .org Registry Agreement, VeriSign is obligated to cooperate in the transition:

5.1.3 Registry Operator shall make all commercially reasonable efforts to cooperate with ICANN and the party designated by ICANN as successor operator to facilitate smooth transition of the operation of the Registry TLD.

In addition, VeriSign has agreed to make global resolution and distribution facilities available to the successor registry operator for one year at no charge:

5.1.5 Registry Operator further agrees that it will make available to the party designated by ICANN as successor operator of the .org registry the use of global resolution and distribution facilities, at no charge until 31 December 2003, and thereafter at a price to be determined, for so long as Registry Operator is also the operator of the .com registry.

Question 3: Will the winning respondent have access to all .org data (including zone file data) in advance of the transition date? If so, when will such data be made available?

Answer to Question 3: See the above Answer to Question 2. Additional details are not available at this time.

Question 4: Have any specific mechanisms been established for the winning bidder to make use of VeriSign's domain name servers for the 12 month period in which VeriSign has agreed to provide this service? Specifically, has it been determined how zone file updates will be distributed to the VeriSign name servers?

Answer to Question 4: No specific mechanisms have yet been definitively established. In general, it is anticipated that updates to the .org zone would be supplied to a VeriSign-operated distribution master on an agreed schedule.

Question 5: Subsection 5.5.1 of the [Draft] .org Registry Agreement states "Registry Operator represents and warrants to ICANN that: it is a corporation duly organized, validly existing, and in good standing under the laws of Delaware, USA". Is it required for a prospective .org registry operator to incorporate in Delaware?

Answer to Question 5: The language regarding Delaware incorporation was left in the draft (which was prepared based on various existing registry agreements) by mistake. There is no requirement that the successor registry operator for .org be incorporated in any particular jurisdiction. In the finalized model .org Registry Agreement, subsection 5.5.1 has been modified to read:

5.5. Representations and Warranties of Registry Operator. Registry Operator represents and warrants to ICANN that:

5.5.1. it is a [type of organization] duly organized, validly existing, and in good standing under the laws of [jurisdiction of organization] . . . .

The bracketed items will be filled in as appropriate for the selected applicant.

Question 6: Would ICANN enter into a contract with a non-US based company?

Answer to Question 6: Yes. There is no intent to provide any preference based on an applicant's status as a US-based company.

Question 7: If ICANN only enters into a contract with a US based company, which US states laws would be acceptable or even preferred (e.g., California)?

Answer to Question 7: The Model .org Registry Agreement does not specify a single jurisdiction's law to apply to all matters under the agreement. It is anticipated that the laws of different jurisdictions may apply to different issues. For example, it is likely that the validity, interpretation, and effect of acts of successor registry operator would be judged according to the laws of its jurisdiction and the validity, interpretation, and effect of acts of ICANN would be judged according to the laws of the State of California, USA.

Question 8: The new TLD agreements are most probably all based on US law. Would ICANN enter into an agreement based on non-US law? This question is related to law of the agreement (contract) itself.

Answer to Question 8: ICANN's new TLD agreements do not specify a single jurisdiction's law to apply to all matters under the agreements. The agreement between the ICANN and the successor .org registry operator is expected to have the same provisions relevant to choice of law; see the Model .org Registry Agreement.

Question 9: Items C12-C14 of the .org Proposal Form refer to entities contracted by the registry to provide facilities or services. Is it requested that contracts with such
entities are already in force when the bid is submitted or is it sufficient if bidders attach documentary evidence that such contracts will be entered if and only if an agreement with ICANN regarding .org registry services can be concluded?

Answer to Question 9: As stated in item C14, it is sufficient to "state the scope and terms of the contract under which the facilities or services will be provided and attach documentary evidence that the entity has committed to enter into that contract." The submitted evidence should convincingly demonstrate a firm commitment to enter into the contract on the stated terms.

Question 10: Subsection 3.14 of the .org Registry Agreement deals with registry-level financial support of ICANN. In order for an applicant to set up a business case it is important that price calculations are possible and can be made reliably for the bid. ICANN is asked to provide reliable details on financial data and criteria.

Answer to Question 10: The available information on this point can best be understood by reviewing subsection 3.14 of the Model .org Registry Agreement (be sure to review subsection 3.14.5) and the Proposed Fiscal Year 20022003 Budget, particularly Schedule 1.

Question 11: Item C17 of the .org Proposal Form requires detailed descriptions of technical infrastructure, like data base throughput, name server performance data that can be supplied by a potential bidder only if relevant data from VeriSign becomes available in time for the bid. (A) Can ICANN ensure that such data from VeriSign will be available in time? (B) Since a potential new registry operator will most probably be a well known organization with registry-skills, does it make sense to request and analyze such detailed data?

Answer to Question 11(A): ICANN will make good-faith efforts to facilitate provision of relevant data by VeriSign, which has indicated that it will cooperate in this regard. There are no guarantees.

Answer to Question 11(B): ICANN believes that provision of this data is important to evaluation of the applications. Please note that one factor in evaluating applications will be: "11. The completeness of the proposals submitted and the extent to which they demonstrate realistic plans and sound analysis."

Question 12: When is the earliest date to be expected to start agreement (contractual) negotiations? Can ICANN give estimates on how much time such agreement processes take (e.g. based on ICANN's experiences in similar cases)?

Answer to Question 12: ICANN anticipates that negotiations will begin promptly after a selection is made. Please see the Model .org Registry Agreement concerning the form of the agreement and a description of appendices that must be prepared based on the selected applicants' proposal and other factors. ICANN does not expect this to be a lengthy process, and delays by the initially selected applicant may result in an alternative selection being made.

Question 13: If a new .org registry were located outside of the US, this registry would have to abide by privacy and data protection law of that country. How will ICANN deal with this issue?

Answer to Question 13: ICANN believes that registry operators are able to structure their businesses and operations in a way that allows them to comply with the obligations of their agreements with ICANN as well as abiding by applicable laws. Please note the various, quite similar, agreements entered with unsponsored registry operators located or incorporated in several North American and European jurisdictions. It should be possible similarly to operate in jurisdictions elsewhere while complying with the ICANN registry agreements.

Question 14: Item C41 of the .org Proposal Form states conditions for application of the endowment and assumes the applicant is familiar with the terms of the endowment. Where can the terms of the endowment be found?

Answer to Question 14: The terms of the endowment are currently stated in subsection 5.1.4 of the VeriSign-ICANN .org Registry Agreement, which states:

5.1.4 No later than 90 days prior to the Expiration Date, Registry Operator will pay to ICANN or ICANN's designee the sum of US $5 million, to be used by ICANN in it sole discretion to establish an endowment to be used to fund future operating costs of the non-profit entity designated by ICANN as successor operator of the .org registry. Registry Operator agrees that such funds, once paid to ICANN, will become the property of ICANN and/or ICANN's designee, and that Registry Operator will have no ownership or other rights or interests in such funds or in the manner in which they are used or disbursed.

Question 15: Specifically, how does ICANN define non-commercial?

Answer to Question 15: Without more context, it is not possible to formulate an accurate definition of "non-commercial." If the question relates to the VeriSign endowment, see the Answer to Question 14.

Question 16: When ICANN refers to a non-profit entity, is it referring to an entity approved by a regulatory body, such as the IRS in the case of a 501(c)(3) organization, or is this meant to mean an organization incorporated as a non-profit organization in whatever national legal jurisdiction it is based? How important or relevant to the VeriSign endowment is its tax-exempt status or is simply being an organization incorporated as a non-profit entity sufficient?

Answer to Question 16: See Answer to Question 14. Applicants should consult their own legal advisors regarding the relevance of various circumstances to the availability of the VeriSign endowment.

Question 17: Concerning point 10 of the Draft Criteria for Assessing Proposals. Please describe in more detail the "qualification and use requirements" of the Verisign endowment. Please specify what sorts of constraints are put on use requirements and any criteria for assessing appropriate use of the funds for operating cost, capital requirements, or research & development.

Answer to Question 17: See Answer to Question 16.

Question 18: Transition to new registry: How does ICANN propose the new registry should deal with registrars currently contractually bound to VeriSign? Will these contracts terminate in order for the new registry to start negotiations with registrars?

Answer to Question 18: The current agreements between VeriSign and registrars will not apply to the relationship between those registrars and the successor registry operator. The successor registry operator will be obligated under subsection 3.4 of the registry agreement with ICANN to enter into agreements with registrars in the form agreed with ICANN. Applicants may wish to refer to Appendix F of the various unsponsored TLD agreements to ascertain what types of registry-registrar agreements are acceptably used in other TLDs.

Question 19: Will the new registry have to negotiate with all ICANN accredited registrars for new contractual agreements or will the contracts concluded by ICANN with the accredited registrars be valid for the new .org registry also?

Answer to Question 19: Please see the Answer to Question 18 and subsection 3.4 of the Model .org Registry Agreement. Registrars operating in .org after the turnover will have an Registrar Accreditation Agreement with ICANN and a separate Registry-Registrar Agreement with the successor registry operator. Each will be uniform among the registrars operating in .org.

Question 20: Presentation in Romania: please provide indication of time to be allocated to each bidder and any key issues which should be addressed in the bid. Please also provide information on the purpose of the presentation and on the weight the presentation will have in the decision-making process.

Answer to Question 20: The details of the presentation(s) in Bucharest will likely be subject to change once the number of applications received becomes clear. Please note the following (somewhat revised) explanation in the Application Instructions for the .org Top-Level Domain posted on 20 May 2002:

27 June 2002 - This is the date of the ICANN Public Forum to be held in Bucharest, Romania. A portion of the Public Forum will be devoted to discussion of the .org applications, including presentations by the applicants. An additional session for presentations at Bucharest may also be held on 25 or 26 June 2002. Applicants will be notified of any such additional session promptly after the application deadline (currently scheduled for 18 June 2002).

Applicants should periodically check back at <http://www.icann.org/tlds/org/>, where additional details will be announced as they become known.

Question 21: For a non-English-language organization to apply for .org it is difficult to supply some of the requested documents in English, e.g. business register entry, statutes, business reports etc. What is the advice given by ICANN for such cases? Would translations of text be sufficient? Do official documents require signatures by notary persons?

Answer to Question 21: In such cases, an accurate translation should be submitted. Signatures by notary persons need not be included on the documents when submitted; if they are required the applicant will be requested to provide them after submission.

Question 22: The solicitation documents appear to say that on the date the successor operator assumes responsibility for the .org registry, the number of registered domain names in the .org database will roughly equal 2.7 million. Applicants are likely to structure their technical proposals consistent with this figure, with allowances for variations in the normal course of business. Do any of ICANN's agreements with the current operator of the .org registry prohibit the operator or its registrars from artificially inflating domain name registrations through such measures as, and without limitation, no-cost registrations, low-price promotional programs, and the bundling of top level domains? Will ICANN afford the successor operator any allowances or equitable adjustments if the number of registrations substantially increases as a result of these measures by the time the successor begins operating the registry?

Answer to Question 22: Please note that the RFP materials do not indicate how many registered .org names there will be on the turnover date; all they indicate is that the current number of names is approximately 2.7 million. In the time leading up to the turnover date, that number could rise or fall, perhaps significantly. Ascertaining the likely change is a matter for which each applicant is responsible.

ICANN has had discussions with VeriSign Global Registry Services personnel regarding their plans concerning possible low- or no-cost promotions of .org registrations before the turnover date. Based on those discussions, it is unlikely that there will be any registry-level .org price promotions before the turnover date. In the event there are, ICANN would be willing to consider adjustments to its contractual terms with the selected successor registry operator.

Question 23: Does ICANN anticipate a transition from a thin registry to thick as part of the .org re-delegation, and if so, in which section of the application would it be appropriate to detail such a transition?

Answer to Question 23: The decision whether to propose a transition to a thick registry is a matter left up to the applicant. (This decision may be relevant to the evaluation of applications. See, for example, criteria 7 and 8.) The proposed arrangements should be described in response to the .org Proposal Form, particularly items C17 and C25-C28. Responses to other items in the response may also be affected.

Question 24: The IETF is very likely to approve the core EPP documents as Proposed Standards prior to ICANN's selection of a new .org registry. If this occurs, then the "135-day interval" described in Section C22 of the [Draft] .org Proposal Form ICANN will be within the timeframe of the transition of .org from the current registry to the new registry (December 2002 to January 2003). The result of this is that the registry would be required to support both RRP and EPP at the time of the transition. Is this ICANN's intent? Or is it ICANN's intent for the registry to support RRP at the time of the transition from the current registry to the new registry and then at a later time to coordinate a transition from RRP to EPP as is implied by Criteria 8 of the [Draft] Criteria for Assessing Proposals?

Answer to Question 24: Without necessarily agreeing with this question's prediction about IETF actions, ICANN notes that item C22 has been revised in the finalized .org Proposal Form. It seems likely that an orderly transition to EPP will entail some period of support of RRP after the turnover date.

Question 25: In the event that the EPP protocol is not finalized by the IETF in the near future, would it be allowable to migrate registrars from RRP to EPP after transition but prior to the 135 days after [EPP] is adopted as a Proposed Standard?

Answer to Question 25: See Answer to Question 24 and item C22 of the finalized .org Proposal Form.

Question 26: Is it allowable for the winning bidder to discontinue support for the RRP protocol at some point after transition?

Answer to Question 26: See Answer to Question 24 and item C22 of the finalized .org Proposal Form.

Question 27: Item C50.3 has been revised in the [Draft] .org Proposal Form reads:

C50.3 Business References. A list of significant trade and credit references of the applicant and each entity identified in item C13.

Does ICANN want simply a list identifying organizations and contact information for trade and credit references from the applicant and each C13 entity or should original signed letters from those references be acquired and attached to the application?

Answer to Question 27: A list of references with contact information should be submitted. As to the item C13 entities, please see item C14.

Question 28: Concerning question A9 of the Draft Application Instructions. Can materials be submitted by email instead of a floppy disk or a CD-ROM? Are PDF and HTML files acceptable as the two formats submitted? If not, does "common word-processing format" include Quark XPress 4.0 or do you require Microsoft Word? What other formats would be acceptable?

Answer to Question 28: Item A9 of the finalized Application Instructions for the .org Top-Level Domain has been revised to be more specific.

Question 29: Concerning the Draft .org Registry Agreement. The existing .org agreement with Verisign includes reference to an Appendix P, an independent Whois provider. That appendix is not present in the Draft Agreement. What are ICANN's plans in this area?

Answer to Question 29: ICANN anticipates that there will be an Appendix P in the successor .org registry operator's registry agreement. Please see the Model .org Registry Agreement posted on 20 May 2002, which has a significantly expanded discussion of the appendices that are anticipated.

Question 30: Concerning item B2 of the Draft Application Transmittal Form. What documents would ICANN like to see that demonstrate the authority to act?

Answer to Question 30: A certificate from the applicant's corporate secretary is an example. See item B2 in the finalized .org Application Transmittal Form.

Question 31: Why is the definition of "Registry Services" different from the definition of that term as set forth in the current .org Registry Agreement with VeriSign, Inc.?

Answer to Question 31: The definition of the term "Registry Services" in the model agreement is identical to the definition of that term used in the .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro agreements. This definition is used throughout ICANN's registry agreements to distinguish services provided by a registry operator based on its appointment as the sole registry operator by ICANN (that therefore implicate ICANN's public-interest responsibilities) from services provided on a fully competitive basis (that do not implicate those responsibilities). The definition used in the VeriSign .org agreement is a version that was discussed earlier in the negotiations leading up to the new TLD agreements. Legitimate concerns were raised that this earlier definition could be improved by providing more specifics as to how to judge whether a particular service was or was not a "Registry Service". As a result, the second and third sentences were added to provide additional clarity. This additional clarity should reduce the potential for disputes, though it is unlikely to affect the outcome in the case of any particular service.

Question 32: Subsection 1.16 of the model .org registry agreement states that "[i]n determining whether a service is integral to the operation of the Registry TLD, consideration will be given to the extent to which the Registry Operator has been materially advantaged in providing the service by its designation as such under this Agreement." Why is this a consideration and what is the relationship between whether a service is integral to the operation of the Registry TLD and the advantage a Registry Operator may enjoy in providing a service by virtue of its position?

Answer to Question 32: The purpose of the definition of "Registry Services" is to distinguish services provided by a registry operator based on its appointment as the sole registry operator by ICANN (that therefore implicate ICANN's public-interest responsibilities) from services provided on a fully competitive basis (that do not implicate those responsibilities). By virtue of its appointment by ICANN as the authoritative keeper of a TLD's registry, a registry operator is necessarily accorded a preferential ability to provide some kinds of services – most obviously the ability to accept registrations from registrars but also services that are integrated with the registry operation in some way (such as the VeriSign-proposed Wait-Listing Service for the .com and .net TLDs). Where a registry operator gains from its appointment as the sole registry operator a preferential ability to provide a service, that service is a "Registry Service" and requirements such as fair and equivalent treatment of all accredited registrars apply. The extent to which the registry operator's appointment by ICANN to operate the authoritative TLD registry gives rise to a preferential ability to provide a service (as discussed in the second sentence of the definition) is plainly a major consideration in determining whether the service is "integral" to the operation of the registry TLD (as discussed in the first sentence of the definition) and thus a "Registry Service". If no advantage in providing a service is afforded by ICANN's appointment of the registry operator, then the service should not be considered "integral" to operation of the registry.

Question 33: What is ICANN's interest in controlling or influencing services which the Registry Operator has been materially advantaged in providing by virtue of its designation as such under the agreement?

Answer to Question 33: Where a registry operator is given a preferentially advantageous ability to provide a service due to ICANN's appointment of it as the sole, authoritative keeper of the TLD's registry, the public trust inherent in ICANN's administration of the DNS root implies public-interest responsibilities. Placing a particular for-profit, private interest in a sole-source position to provide a service carries with it the responsibility on the part of ICANN to ensure the conditions for provision of the service are compatible with the public interest.

Question 34: What measures will ICANN take to preserve the integrity of the proposal process?

Answer to Question 34: See the Application Instructions for the .org Top-Level Domain (concerning the process for informed consideration of applications) and Reassignment of .org Top-Level Domain: Criteria for Assessing Proposals (concerning neutral criteria to be applied).

Question 35: Concerning Appendix S of the Model .org Registry Agreement on Data Escrow Requirements, does ICANN maintain a list of approved Data Escrow Providers? What are the criteria ICANN uses for assessing the suitability of a Data Escrow Provider?

Answer to Question 35: ICANN does not maintain a list of approved data escrow providers, but makes case-by-case assessments based on the nature and extent of the data escrow to be provided, the reputation of the proposed provider for technical competence and trustworthy implementation of escrow instructions, the willingness of the proposed provider to agree to the escrow conditions, the stability and other circumstances of the proposed provider, and any other relevant factors that may appear in a particular situation.

Question 36: Please confirm item B8 of the .org Application Transmittal Form is not intended to waive claims against ICANN for disclosing documentation or other information that has been accorded confidential treatment pursuant the Statement of Requested Confidential Treatment of Materials Submitted and any other applicable procedures. To the extent that item B8 does purport to disclaim such liability or responsibility, we suggest that the language of this provision be changed to recognize ICANN's obligation to comply with its confidentiality requirements.

Answer to Question 36: A parenthetical sentence has been added to item B8 in the finalized .org Application Transmittal Form to clarify the relation of that item to written agreements pursuant the Statement of Requested Confidential Treatment of Materials Submitted. As recited in item B8, the waiver is "[i]n consideration of ICANN's review of the application."

Question 37: What specific criteria will ICANN apply in determining whether its general goal of encouraging competition at the registry level has been satisfied?

Answer to Question 37: The explanation of criterion 3 in the finalized Criteria for Assessing Proposals has been expanded to provide additional information about how this criterion will be applied.

Question 38: What data will ICANN rely upon in determining whether its goal of encouraging competition at the registry level has been satisfied?

Answer to Question 38: The .org Proposal Form, particularly part VI, requests data pertinent to this criterion for selection. ICANN will consider data provided by applicants in response to the .org Proposal Form as well as other relevant information obtained by other means.

Question 39: Does ICANN intend to conduct discussions with offerors after their submission of proposals, and if so, under what circumstances?

Answer to Question 39: For a description of the evaluation process, please see part IX of Application Instructions for the .org Top-Level Domain. As noted in item A39, for example, the evaluation team will as needed gather additional information from the applicants and other sources.

Question 40: If ICANN intends to conduct discussions with offerors after their submission of proposals, what measures will ICANN take to ensure the confidentiality of proposal materials and the integrity of the proposal process?

Answer to Question 40: ICANN intends to observe the terms of any written agreements it enters under the procedures stated in part I of Statement of Requested Confidential Treatment of Materials Submitted. The procedures for the evaluation proces are described in part IX of Application Instructions for the .org Top-Level Domain.

Question 41:What procedures will ICANN use to clarify any questions it may have with regard to specific proposals?

Answer to Question 41: See Answer to Question 39.

Question 42: What restrictions are there on a company minority (less that 10%) owned by VeriSign in submitting a proposal to become the successor operator of .org?

Answer to Question 42: Subsection 5.1.2 of the current .org Registry Agreement between ICANN and VeriSign states:

5.1.2 Registry Operator [VeriSign] acknowledges and agrees that upon the earlier of (i) the Expiration Date or (ii) termination of this Agreement by ICANN pursuant to Subsection 5.4, it will cease to be the operator of the Registry TLD and neither it nor any affiliated entity will be eligible to seek to continue to operate the Registry TLD.

Our understanding of the circumstances being inquired about is:

a. VeriSign owns (directly or indirectly) less than 10% of the equity in a prospective applicant, and does not have the ability to exercise voting power of 10% or more within the prospective applicant;

b. VeriSign does not possess the power to elect more than 10% of the board of directors (or equivalent governing body) of the prospective applicant; and

c. VeriSign has no ability, directly or indirectly, to direct or cause the direction of the management, operations, or policies of the prospective applicant.

Based on these understandings, ICANN does not believe that Subsection 5.1.2 prohibits the prospective applicant from seeking to become the successor operator of the .org TLD.

The response above is limited to the effect of Subsection 5.1.2 of the current .org Registry Agreement. Please note that item 3 of the Criteria for Assessing Proposals generally favors diversity in the provision of registry services for .com, .net, and .org:

3. Enhancement of competition for registration services.

One of ICANN's core principles is the encouragement of competition in the provision of registration services at both the registry and registrar levels. Promotion of that principle will be a criterion. As one illustration of this criterion, a major purpose of the reassignment of the .org registry is to diversify the provision of registry services by placing the .org registry under different operation than the .com and .net registries. Consideration will be given to the extent to which proposed arrangements are consistent with this purpose. As another illustration, applicants are encouraged to refrain from prohibiting non-affiliated providers of backend services from offering their services in connection with other applications.

Under this criterion, the relationship of an applicant with the .net and .org operator may be relevant even in circumstances where Subsection 5.1.2 of the .org Registry Agreement does not make the applicant ineligible to apply.

To provide a proper basis for evaluation, Item C33 of the .org Proposal Form requests details regarding "all affiliations, including direct or indirect ownership and contractual arrangements (including letters of intent) for the past, present, or future provision of registry services, between (a) the applicant or any entity identified in item C13 and (b) any operator of a DNS registry having more than 500,000 registered names." As should be apparent from its language, this inquiry uses the term "affiliation" in a broad sense, not limited to situations of substantial ownership or control. Applicants should respond accordingly, so that ICANN is enabled to make an informed judgment. In responding, applicants having such relationships may wish to explain the extent to which the related party would have the ability to control the operation of the .org registry, in the event the applicant became the successor operator.

Question 43: I've read the Criteria for Assessing Proposals that you posted. Can you give me any additional guidance?

Answer to Question 43: ICANN intends to consider the eleven items in the Criteria for Assessing Proposals in evaluating and selecting from among the proposals that are received. (It is expected that additional considerations in the evaluation and selection of proposals may be suggested by analysis and comparison of the proposals once they are received.) Applicants may also find it helpful to review the discussion among the ICANN Board members at the Board meeting in Accra about the .org reassignment. This occurred in the afternoon of 14 March 2002 and was recorded by a real-time scribe. For applicants' convenience, the portion of the discussion about the .org reorganization has been separately posted.

Question 44: I have some materials I'd like to send to the ICANN Board about my application. How can I do that?

Answer to Question 44: The procedures for receiving and evaluating .org applications have been designed to promote transparency. Materials submitted to ICANN for its consideration should generally (except where ICANN has agreed in writing to confidential treatment) be available for review by the public. An in-person Public Forum will be held in Bucharest and a web-based public comment forum has been established to receive presentations from applicants and others with views on particular applications.

The ICANN Board members and staff intend to adhere to these procedures. Although they are committed to being accessible to the public regarding ICANN matters, the members of the ICANN Board have asked us to remind applicants, their supporters, their detractors, and all others to use the established comment mechanisms so that comments are open for review by everyone. ICANN Board members/staff will review the comments received by these mechanisms. Private comments sent directly to Board members and the staff are neither appropriate nor helpful in this process because they do not support ICANN's commitment to openness and transparency. Applicants are requested to demonstrate their sensitivity to the need for transparency by refraining–and asking their supporters to refrain–from attempting direct submissions.

Question 45: May the HTML version of our full application include links to pdf files containing proposal information, technical and other attachments or must everything be converted to html? The html files we would like to submit with the pdf links and appropriate electronic files attached could be posted easily to the ICANN website.

Answer to Question 45: To enhance public access to the materials submitted, ICANN seeks to have as much of the material as possible posted in HTML (character-searchable) format. Both the public and ICANN Board members/staff will find that a true HTML version makes your submission easier to review. In all events, documents must be provided in the two electronic formats described in Item A9 of the finalized Application Instructions for the .org Top-Level Domain:

Items A8.1, A8.2, and A8.3 must also be provided in electronic form on one or more 3½" floppy diskettes (IBM high density) or on a CD-ROM (a) in HTML format (merely using Microsoft Word's HTML conversion features is discouraged) and (b) in one of the following formats: Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, or plaintext.

While .pdf files may be submitted as a third format, please provide HTML format and one of the formats described in (b) above to the extent that the nature of the materials permits doing so. See Answer to Question 46.

Question 46: Can you confirm (1) whether the CD must include scanned copies of materials such as organizational documents of entities in C13 that are only provided to the applicant in hard copy and (2) whether PDFs of scanned documents from external sources (and C13 sources) are acceptable on the CD?

Answer to Question 46: Where organizational documents or other supporting items are available to the applicant only in paper form, .pdf files produced by scanning are acceptable.

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