Business

The 100 year domain: legal or not?

I received news that NSI is now offering a 100 years domain name registration. It’s an interesting concept but with a few flaws.

A century is a long time

Considering that the commercial Internet is barely a decade old and that the Internet itself is less than half a century old, to assume that things won’t change in the next century may be an ill fated conceit. What happens if the name spaces change? What if domain names are no longer used in the future? Will NSI refund the money for all those unused years? Apparently not.

Network Solutions viability

The assumption here is that NSI will still exist in a century. Otherwise, what happens if the company disbands, disappears, merges with someone else? Will the terms of the contract expire upon such an event? What guarantees is NSI making that I’ll still be able to hang on to my domain under those conditions? According to their service agreement,

You acknowledge and agree that our ability to provide the 100-Year Domain Service is dependent upon, among other things, the continued registration of the relevant domain name, and that any termination of that registration (for whatever reason) will result in the termination of the 100-Year Domain Service for that registration.

So if network solutions loses the right to domain name registrations or gets out of that business, you are left holding nothing. Basically, they provide a service with no guarantees whatsoever. That’s not good.

Can they do that?

The other important thing is that NSI is selling something they don’t actually own. They are not guaranteed accreditation for the next century. That’s a right only ICANN currently enjoys.

NSI violates agreement with ICANN

According to their literature, the service is non-transferable:

It is important to note that your pre-paid 100 Year Domain Service is provided exclusively by Network Solutions for you, and will terminate upon any transfer of your domain name to another registrar, with no refunds.

Interesting in the sense that this seems absolutely arbitrary and if it is, then NSI is in violation of the rules set forth by ICANN on domain transfer. I’m not a lawyer but it seems to me that there is something fishy here.

Pricing

Also according to their marketing,

Lock in your domain registration for our lowest price available – just $9.99 a year. This is a savings of over 70% compared to paying annually.

What I don’t see there is a guarantee of reimbursement if they lower their price further. And compared to other registrars, the price they are offering is still not the most competitive.

So why, exactly, would anyone consider this a good offer?

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