With direct registrations of .au domains having been approved in principle by the auDA Board, it is timely to look at what has happened (and is currently happening) across the ditch in New Zealand. This may help the “SS auDA” avoid the iceberg or lighthouse that is directly ahead. Judging from comments made by the auDA CEO at the recent AGM, he is now very aware of the potential dangers.
But first some background. In May this year, I wrote an article entitled “Direct Registrations – The NZ Way”. It’s worth reading this again, as I suggested then that:
“Despite the spin and gloss that certain people want to put on the “success” of NZ direct registrations, many domain investors and registrants think that it has been a bit of a shemozzle.”
“The managed conflict process has also been a disappointment (some would say nightmare) for many registrants. This is where, for example, one registrant may hold anyname.co.nz while others may hold anyname.org.nz or anyname.school.nz. These registrants all have rights in the conflicted name anyname.nz.”
Fast Forward To Now
A NZ friend of mine pointed out to me that the Domain Name Commission (their equivalent of auDA) has recently proposed some changes to the .nz Conflicted Name Process
Comments are now flowing in from affected registrants, and as my Kiwi mate says, this one (below) seems a good summary of the situation (though the corruption suggestion in the last sentence seems overly aggressive and unnecessary). Bolding is mine (and I could have bolded it all).
“The fact that these changes to your process are now being proposed is evidence, if any more were needed, that the original process was poorly thought-out and was enacted in unseemly haste.
In fact, the adoption of second level registrations seems to have been a wholly cynical exercise that was promoted – more in hope than expectation – by a registration industry greedy for further bites of the cherry. It is, frankly, incredible that this scheme was then adopted, without any proper consultation, review – or apparently any thought whatsoever – by an embarrassingly gullible and negligent commission.
There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that second level registrations were a reaction to domain name congestion or were adopted for any legitimate purpose. New Zealand is a relatively tiny jurisdiction and yet now enjoys an embarrassment of domains. All this has been achieved at the (very considerable) expense of legitimate businesses (like ours) who have had no choice but to protect their intellectual property rights to prevent confusion.
I strongly opposed this policy at the time and I am not at all surprised that it is now subject to (totally foreseeable) deadlock.
I propose that all conflicted domains remain ineligible for registration. To require domain holders to lodge a preference is inequitable and is bound to lead to further confusion for consumers.
The withdrawal of conflicted domains is the fairest course to all parties.
Currently conflicted names should be withdrawn in perpetuity (i.e. not returned to the pool).
I further submit that all further second level registrations be withdrawn forthwith. Failing which, I propose a moratorium on all and any expansion of the NZ domain pool.
Finally, if I have not made my opprobrium for this process and the commission sufficiently clear, may I state unequivocally that I consider the commission negligent to its duty to the point of actual corruption.”
Where Does That Leave .AU?
Given everything that has transpired in the .NZ and .UK domain spaces – and borrowing from Alex W above – I have to ask these simple questions of auDA:
- Are direct registrations an imperative at this time – or is auDA just pandering to “a registration industry greedy for further bites of the cherry”?
- With approximately 3,060,000 domains registered in our namespace as at November 2016, is there any evidence that we are we suffering from congestion? (As at November 2015, there were 3,006,862 domains registered in total).
What do my readers think?
Ned O’Meara – 8th December 2016