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Wednesday, 1 March 2006

NOMINET EGM - MO' MONEY?


An anonymous source thought that the IPKat should know that Nominet (the .uk domain name registry) is calling an EGM on 16 March. On the table are a number of changes to Nominet’s corporate governance and company statutes. The following changes are proposed:

*a widening of the company's aims;
*removing the need for 90% of members to be in support before a member can be expelled;
*changes to the way in which directors are elected and to their length of service. In addition, the number of directors would increase from 6 to 9;
*changes to the voting system;
*the introduction of a power for the board to consult stakeholders on policy matters;
*removal of the requirement that 75% of the members approve any price changes;
*the introduction of changes which reflect the new law on directors’ indemnities.

Kassam Stadium, Oxford, location of the 16 March EGM


The proposed changes have come in for heavy criticism. Members fear that the changes would cause Nominet to become too commercial and will also result in less power for the Nominet members. Nominet counters that it cannot effectively compete at present. The present rules make it extremely difficult to make price changes and it cannot conduct marketing for the .uk domain. It also cannot bid to provide non-.uk registry-related services, despite having great experience in domain name registration.

The IPKat says that, at the end of the day, Nominet is a company, albeit a not-for-profit company and the truth of the matter is, companies act to protect their own interests. Nominet can’t be blamed for acting in this way. The only way to make sure that domain name registration is truly in the public interest is to put it into public hands. This of course would require stacks of government money, particularly at the outset. If domain name registration remains in private hands then we’ll just have to live with the fact that Nominet will act as companies must.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nominet makes a profit - over a million pounds last year - and has reserves of about £6.5 million that would (under its current constitution) automatically pass to any government run agency that succeeds it. So no “stacks of government money” required to create a regulated agency, rather quite the opposite.

Stripped of its monopoly, Nominet could then quite properly compete in any market it wanted - without the benefit of the .uk guaranteed cash cow. Consumers would then also get genuine cost price domain registration direct from a government regulated registrar - just as they do with patents and trade marks.

That said, Nominet might then struggle to make enough money to pay its two top execs over four hundred thousand pounds a year between them - which is what it currently does!

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