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$2-a-year fee for domain name owners

Anyone interested in the business of domain names has probably been reading a report released this week about the future of .net. Prepared under contract to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the report essentially says that VeriSign will renew its lucrative monopoly as the registrar for .net domains.

What's almost as interesting, though, is a less-noticed announcement from ICANN. It says that all owners of future .jobs and .travel domains will have to pay ICANN a $2 annual fee.

The first big question, of course: Where will the money go? The .jobs and .travel documents don't say. But check out an article I wrote last December about a $.75 annual fee being levied on .net. One-third of the .net money will go to "developing country stakeholders," one-third will "facilitate the security and stability" of the Internet's naming system, while the remainder can be spent freely by ICANN without restriction.

The second big question: ICANN gets a chance to revisit .com fees when VeriSign's contract expires in November 2007. From then on, will all .com owners have to pay a $2 annual fee too? If so, we're talking about something like $100 million a year.