Now the dust has settled and Zak Muscovitch (General Council for the Internet Commerce Association) has made a terrific response to and about Verisign on CircleID with an article published this week.
Zak's defense of buying and selling domains is as good as it gets! I will read it over and over as it is filled with PROOF that we we all do is BONA FIDE, LEGITIMATE and happening throughout history. Anyone that says anything else can STUFF IT! Nothing to feel guilty about! Nothing to even defend. We are doing something as old as capitalism is and 1000 years before that!
In its aforementioned blog post, Verisign made some unfortunate suggestions that domain name investors and registrars who participate in the domain name aftermarket may be considered "scalpers", and that domain investors' businesses are "questionable". The domain name aftermarket, to the contrary, is entirely lawful, highly competitive, and any profits earned are the result of successful investment in a free and open marketplace.
1. Investment Lawfully Exists in Every Marketplace
Whether in land, a catalogue of Beatles songs, or domain names, investing in assets is a natural by-product of a free and open market. Domain registrants use and risk their own money to lawfully purchase generic and descriptive domain names on a first-come, first-served basis and from prior owners, and they have every right to continue to do so. Domain name investors range from an at-home mom making a casual investment in a handful of names, to a top branding agency that offers for sale thousands of domain names that were registered as a by-product of brainstorming new name candidates for clients, to professional domain name investors who spend substantial money and efforts on building a portfolio and marketing it to the public. Domain names are also sold by companies large and small who originally registered the domain names for future development, defensively, or because having a valuable .com domain name is helpful for their business. Such business activities involving domain names are entirely legal, expected, and natural. There is nothing "questionable" about it. As one commentator recently put it, a domain name investor is engaging in no more "questionable" business activity than a Verisign shareholder who purchases stock in the hopes of reselling it for more than they bought it for and for whatever the market will bear.
Domain name investors risk their own capital to register or purchase a domain name with no guarantee that they will ever see a return on that investment. Domain investors compete with thousands of other market participants around the globe, seeking out desirable domains, and bidding against each other at auctions where the price is set by the market through the combined actions of thousands of participants. Many domain name investors lose money on their acquisitions, as they find that they have overpaid to acquire domain names that others do not regard as an attractive investment or which others do not want.
Investing in valuable generic and descriptive domain names is comparable to investing in vacant real estate. Both investments are made on the basis of an expectation that there will be an appreciation in value upon resale. A businessperson who wishes to open a storefront on 5th Avenue in New York City would expect that land to be already owned. Similarly, it should not come as any surprise that a valuable domain name already has a registered owner, whether it be a professional domain name investor or another kind of business, and that the owner is prepared to sell it at a market-determined price.
2. Professional Domain Investors Control an Estimated 10% of .com Domains
The best estimates are that the holdings of professional domain name investors represent approximately 10% of all registered .com domain names. The other estimated 90% of .com domain names are held by individuals, small businesses, and in the portfolios of large corporations. Those estimated 90% of domain name registrants may never interact with the domain investment community, and may never purchase an aftermarket domain name, but 100% of .com domain name registrants may soon be subject to higher registration and renewal fees from Verisign. As such, if Verisign were permitted to raise the fees for .com domain names, most of the burden would fall on the vast majority of .com registrants who are not domain name investors. It is not enough to excuse a fee increase by saying, "well, it's only a dollar or two more" that registrants are being charged, when that dollar or two more, across the entire class of .com registrants, adds up to billions of dollars in excessive fees.
3. Domain Name Investors Offer a Valuable Service by Providing Liquidity to an Illiquid Market
Domain names are notoriously illiquid investments. The holding period of domain names held by domain name investors can stretch into decades. Yet if an individual or a company wishes to immediately sell a domain name, it is the investor who steps up to provide a ready market and liquidity. If, for instance, a retiring couple who used a valuable generic domain name for their business and now wished to sell it since it was no longer needed has trouble finding an interested end-user buyer, domain name investors will often step in, bid against each other for the right to acquire the domain name, and thereby create a liquid market enabling the couple to quickly convert their domain name into cash. When Yahoo! wished to sell its contests.com domain name, it was put up for auction at a domain investor conference where the winning bidder paid $380,000. Domain name investors allow domain name owners to readily obtain cash for domain names that they no longer need, or may otherwise wish to sell.
4. Domain Name Pricing and Availability Would be Little Different Even in the Imagined Absence of Domain Name Investors
Domain name investors do not set the market value of aftermarket domain names nor do they determine which domain names are desirable — the operation of a competitive marketplace does. Prices and desirability are dictated by the market. If the asking price is set too high, a buyer can choose from a variety of similar domain names available at a range of prices. If a domain name is desirable, it would have been registered long ago even in the absence of domain name investment.
Verisign proposes an unrealistic scenario in which, in the imagined absence of domain name investment, valuable domain names such as Ice.com (bought for $3,500,000) or Super.com (bought for $1,200,000) could be obtained at a standard registration cost of around $10 each. Even if professional domain name investors vanished, high-quality domain names would not be sitting unregistered and the owners of these domain names would seek the market value for them.
For instance, Procter & Gamble was one of the companies in the early days of the Internet with the foresight to register valuable generic dot-com domains, such as the kind favored by domain investors. When they went to sell some of their domain names, such as flu.com, beautiful.com and thirst.com, P&G;was surprised by the high value of those domains in the secondary market. P&G;did not offer those domains for sale at its cost, nor did anyone expect them to. Similarly now that electrical engineer Marcelo Siero has decided to sell the domain name ee.com, which he registered 24 years ago, he is seeking a market price in the millions of dollars, and who would fault him for that?
Twenty years into the evolution of the commercial Internet, and after over 100 million .com domain name registrations, there are almost no domain names of general value sitting unregistered. The net impact on .com domain name availability due to the presence of domain name investors is that domain name investors have registered millions of lower-quality, less desirable domain names that otherwise might have gone unregistered.
5. Verisign Encourages Domain Investing and Has Benefited Greatly From It
Verisign, throughout its history, has encouraged people to invest in domain names and has been a primary sponsor at conferences focused on domain name investing. Verisign had good reason to do so, as domain name investors send tens of millions of dollars to Verisign annually from registering millions of domains that no one else has shown much interest in. The business most benefiting from these registrations is Verisign itself, which receives $7.85 per domain name per year while taking no risk, whereas the domain name investor often loses money on his or her investment.
6. Verisign Sells Domains at Premium Prices
During the "land rush" for the Japanese and Korean versions of its .com domain names, Verisign unilaterally set initial prices on certain keyword domains at over $10,000 each. For instance, Verisign set a premium price on the Japanese version of <blog.com>, which is ブログ.コム. This domain is currently available for first-time registration at a price of $15,000 from Name.com. Our understanding is that while a portion of this price represents a retail mark-up charged by Name.com, the base price set by Verisign was over $10,000. Verisign's criticism of speculators for offering premium domain names at market prices, when Verisign engages in comparable sales, therefore appears to be extremely contradictory."
 "McCartney told Jackson about how he had been purchasing other artists' catalogues (such as Buddy Holly's) as a business investment.", see: http://mentalfloss.com/article/85007/how-michael-jackson-bought-publishing-rights-beatles-catalogue
 See http://justtheword.com/
 "Finding the right URL can be daunting, but with a little time and effort you can absolutely find a domain that works for your brand — and your wallet!", see https://catchwordbranding.com/catchthis/naming-tips/your-websites-url-an-expensive-com-domain-name-or-these-creative-alternatives/
 Source DNJournal.com
 See https://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/28/technology/procter-gamble-plans-to-sell-domain-names.html
 "While buying up a ton of domains seems like a great way to make some extra money, the real world results show that it is very hard to make that process profitable."; see: https://moz.com/blog/is-buying-domain-names-profitable