[OpenID] "Free" URLs and XRIs (was RE: why is xri so obtuse?)

Drummond Reed drummond.reed at cordance.net
Tue Jan 2 06:10:49 UTC 2007

David Recordon wrote:


>So catching up on this thread, in order so haven't read it all, but I don't
think Greg and Dmitry are referring to the IP being free.  Rather the cost
of the i-name registration.  I think the reason this is called out, versus a
domain registration fee, is that i-names are a new technology unlike URLs
which are quite established as being a key part of Internet infrastructure.


Right - it's never quite clear what folks mean when they say "free" in this
context. For example, a common misconception is, "URLs are free but XRIs
cost money." As I hope we've established in this thread, URLs and XRIs have
exactly the same cost structures. Global URLs (i.e., domain names registered
in DNS TLDs) and global XRIs (i.e., i-names/i-numbers registered directly in
the = and @ registries) both cost money to register at the global level.
Thereafter any identifier *delegated* from these global identifiers (i.e.,
third+ level domain names or local URL paths, or community i-names and local
XRI paths) are "free" from the standpoint of the registrant of the global
identifier, i.e., that registrant has complete control of that namespace.


That does not mean that identifiers delegated within that namespace will
necessarily be: a) free-of-cost, or b) free-of-control. Typically it *does*
mean (a), but it almost never means (b). 


To be crystal clear, let's provide examples using real URLs and XRIs of
OpenID providers -- myopenid.com and @freeid. Both myopenid.com and @freeid
cost money themselves -- myopenid.com has to be registered with the DNS .com
TLD and @freeid has to be registered with the XRI @ registry.


Once registered, myopenid.com can delegate either: a) third-level domain
names, or b) local paths. 





(As I understand it right now, myopenid.com only does the former.) For both
these options, myopenid.com completely controls all rules and policies for
how this happens, i.e., how much it costs, who gets to register, what the
terms of service are, how persistent the identifiers are, etc. etc. You can
check their site and determine these policies.


@freeid (since it has the synonymous i-number @!4E3C.6E35.633A.FD2A)
actually has three options: a) delegate community i-names, b) delegate
community i-numbers, or c) delegate local paths.






(As I understand it right now, @freeid only does the first two.) For both
options, @freeid also controls the rules and policies for how this happens.
Currently, @freeid will provide "free" community i-names and i-numbers to
anyone who asks, as described at
I'm cc'ing @freeid proprieter Owen Davis in case anyone wants to ask him
questions directly. However even though such delegations are free-of-cost,
that doesn't mean they are free-of-control, i.e., there will still be terms
of service that apply, just as they do to free-of-cost third-level domains
from myopenid.com. 


Net net: when we talk about "free", we need to be specific about what's free
to whom.




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