online sales

Chris Thomas

SmartCompany /

The more I look into domain name registration, the more ridiculous it gets.

A domain, by any other name

Chris Thomas

Recently the Australian Domain Name Register (AUDA) created a draft policy review, which is available for public comment until Friday 19 October. Essentially it covers everything from registration amendments to buying and selling .au domains. 

You can read the draft policy review here .

Here’s a snippet that caught my eye…

2f. Close and substantial connection rule – domain monetisation policy.

  • 7.15 The consensus view of the panel is against an “open slather” approach to domain name registrations in .au. Equally, the panel does not support the proposition that the policy rules should be made more restrictive.
  • On that basis, the panel believes that the close and substantial connection rule should remain unchanged.
  • 7.16 However, the panel notes that in the case of domain monetisation under the close and substantial connection rule, there are some gaps in the current policy relating to the protection of brand names where they are included in compound domain names (eg. domain names like telstraphones.com.au or safewaysupermarket.com.au would not be covered under the current policy).
  • The panel has agreed to recommend that the Clarification of Close and Substantial connection Rule – Domain Monetisation (2006-03) should be strengthened to provide additional protection to brand names and other names of significance.

Draft recommendation 2f:

  • The panel recommends that the close and substantial connection rule should remain unchanged, but the clarification policy relating to domain monetisation should be strengthened to provide additional protection to brand names.

Quite frankly I’m relieved at the policy suggestion above. But the question remains, how have people been allowed to register the following example domains in the past (and still hold on to them today)?

www.melbourneexhibitionandconventioncentre.com.au
www.melbourneconventioncentre.com.au
www.melbournecitycouncil.com.au
www.sydneycitycouncil.com.au
www.northmelbournefc.com.au
www.geelongfc.com.au
www.australianpostoffices.com.au
www.australianpostoffice.com.au
www.ausposts.com.au
www.artsvictoria.com.au
www.perthairport.com.au

I’m sure the list above is just the tip of the iceberg and it just seems outrageous to me that people have been able to register names that have absolutely no “substantial connection” to their so-called “businesses”. There definitely needs to be a tightening of the rules in these instances; the above domain names have been registered purely to deceive, rip off and monetise. The interpretation of the phrase “substantial connection” is obviously a farce.

Occasionally the AUDA will step in and stop dodgy domain name registrations, as it did during the high-profile Beaconsfield disaster when the domains www.brantwebb.com.au and www.toddrussell.com.au were registered. It was great publicity for the AUDA, but it makes you wonder what it’s doing the rest of the time.

I also hold the view that many domain names are probably being held by speculators, waiting on the outcome of the AUDA’s proposed changes to the buying and selling of domain rules. At present, there are three options put forward by the AUDA:

  • Proposal 3a: Transfer by private transaction (I contact you and offer to buy).
  • Proposal 3b: Transfer by open secondary market (I auction a domain name on ebay).
  • Proposal 3c: Transfer by centralised secondary market (I place a classified ad for a domain with the AUDA on a centralised website for a fixed price).

The feeling you get from reading the AUDA’s draft policy review is that the buying and selling of domains will probably get the go-ahead in some form or other sometime next year. I guess if you can sell licence plates, you should probably be allowed to sell domains, because in effect they’re “licences” too.

I think it will go with proposal 3c, as this will regulate the sale of each domain, giving trademark holders and other potential complainants 30 days to make any objections. It will also promote transparency as each domain sold will have a fixed price, and all historical sale prices will be made available.

The AUDA will also get a cut of the action (oops, sorry, I meant to say “a transfer fee”) for monitoring each sale and covering costs. After all, it is a not-for-profit organisation.

How much will domains sell for? Well, you’d imagine many will sell for around the $1500 to $3000 mark which, incidentally, is the cost of lodging a formal complaint with the AUDRP (AU Dispute Resolution Policy).

Mmmmm.

 

Chris Thomas heads Reseo a search engine marketing company which specialises in setting up and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns, Affiliate Programs and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.

To read more Chris Thomas blogs, click here .

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