One of the biggest changes regarding Australian domain names is due to come into force next Monday – 12th April 2020. There are to be new licensing rules that will affect the registration and renewal of Aussie domains.

Make no mistake – my experience over 20 years tells me that there are going to be many registrants that wouldn’t have a clue this is happening. Hence the title of this article. I wonder whether the auDA Board and Management have considered a short amnesty period for registrants to get their “house in order”?

Those of us in the industry know that there are thousands of registrants that have currently got incorrect registrant details. It could be that their business structure changed years ago, and they now have a different entity or a new ABN / ACN. But their domain (or domains) has been on auto-renewal at their registrar, and it (they) keep getting renewed incorrectly. Or their Trademark details have changed or are no longer in existence. Or the Trademark that they rely upon for eligibility with auDA does not meet auDA’s new exact match requirements.

Registrars are going to become more powerful than they already are. They will have the power to delete non-compliant domains (some of which they have gladly renewed over the years). But don’t get your hopes up of snaffling one of these domains. Deleted domains gets purged on a daily basis, and these go on the expired auctions. At present, there is only one drop catcher, so they stand to benefit.

auDA, I think a short amnesty period would be a wonderful gesture. Will they do it? Because Domainer suggested it, probably not.

9 thoughts on “auDA’s New Rules – Amnesty Period?

  • Avatar
    April 6, 2021 at 6:34 am
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    Sending registrant(s) an email would be a great idea. The importance of email/web presence for these businesses is crucial.

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  • Avatar
    April 6, 2021 at 7:27 am
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    I like the idea of some type of amnesty or warning system.

    How should it be done? If people have a free set period it will aid those who receive a complaint in that time but not others. So those Registrants that are not aware of the change but get a complaint after the period will lose out. Also, those in the domain industry may wait until after the amnesty to complain to thwart Registrants taking advantage of the amnesty. auDA would likely argue that we are in that amnesty period now, whereby the Registrants have time to fix the issues.

    Maybe an alternative of a 1 strike policy? If it is per domain, then there would be no point to the rule change as people will always take advantage of it. What about 1 strike per Registrant? So the first complaint they can overcome but are then given a period of time say 1 month to put all other domains in order and then the rules are fully enforced.

    This overcomes the lack of publicity issue and seems like a fair approach.

    Given the initial decision will be made by a Registrar what guidance is auDA giving those registrars to guide the decision making process. Are we going to see different decisions across different registrars? Yes of course. So we can ask auDA to do an internal review, but again what are the rules for the review. Is a fresh decision made? or is auDA going to assess whether the Registrar acted reasonably and came to a reasonable decision under the rules, regardless of whether auDA would make the same decision?

    I’d also like to explore a different enforcement to those who registered the domains without an entitlement against those who lost entitlement. It just seems illogical that a person can register (say as a sole trader), later incorporate and allow that corporation to exploit the domain but then lose the domain due to what is an administrative oversight. Some people will lose their whole businesses due to the new rules with no ability to fix the issue. I also think that when they are put on notice of the problems they are given a list of the domains they hold (under that Registrant name) and told to fix them. People may not even know what domains they hold as they are auto-renewed and in old accounts.

    Also, why are the Registrars not sending messages to people to warn them of the new rules? They gladly take renewal fees and should have some duty of care to warn about the rules they are about to enforce.

    My other concern is the spike in passing off and misleading and deceptive conduct we will see. The issue there is where a domain with lots of traffic drops, people will grab it to trade off that traffic. Some will be tempted to pass off the new website with the old etc…

    I hope auDA realises the psychological impact on people when they lose their business and that will occur to some who lose their whole business. There is no recourse, no way to fix it, no recovery. And all when at times the error will be because there has been an administrative oversight or a Registrant did not understand the rules when they registered the domain.

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  • Avatar
    April 6, 2021 at 8:03 am
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    I have to imagine that if people do not get at least a warning to update their details that there would be many law suits against registrars themselves and subsequently AuDA – with some being quite hefty. If then enough people who are damaged by this action get together, there may even be enough for a class action which regardless of outcome could make for some great reputation management challenges for all involved as well. You can’t just take things from people without warning, regardless of ‘internal policy changes’.

    Although Rob might know a little more about how the law might be applied or interpreted here.

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  • Avatar
    April 6, 2021 at 11:35 am
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    Agree that an amnesty period should be implemented by auDA. They would need to publicly state this of course.

    One of the other major concerns that many in the Domain Investor community are still talking about (and something we discussed in the recent Domainer Show talk with Anthony and Erhan) is;

    are COMPLAINANTS also allowed to engage the various REVIEW options if a decision is not made in their favour, until they receive a favourable outcome?

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  • Avatar
    April 6, 2021 at 11:45 am
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    The new licensing rules regarding complaint resolution are confusing. The time periods for types of appeal also have me scratching my head.

    Can we email auDA or our registrars to check whether our domains are compliant?

    An amnesty period seems appropriate.

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  • Avatar
    April 6, 2021 at 1:35 pm
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    I don’t agree. The rules are there for everyone to follow and many people haven’t been prepared to follow them to this point so why give them any further leeway. If you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile. Some people are going to get a long overdue wake up call.

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    • Neddy
      April 6, 2021 at 6:04 pm
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      Peter, as a seasoned domain investor and commentator over many years, in my opinion some of the proposed new rules are confusing and conflicted.

      Yes, there are some people who perhaps don’t do the right thing as a matter of course. But there are many more who wouldn’t have a clue as to what is going on. That’s why a possible amnesty could be a community service.

      Ned

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  • Avatar
    April 6, 2021 at 2:45 pm
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    People had been warned of the impending auDA created chaos they may suffer from… auDA had just delayed it. It will start from next week durIng COVID and during a time that many businesses, families, jobs, workers have been suffering already.

    BRUCE TONKIN AUDA COO said it himself years ago to auDA.. Now this is deleted from auDAs website but for some reason!

    “A key drawback of introducing names directly at the top level could be damage to the businesses of existing .com.au registrants, when registrations at the top level are made to trade off their reputations.

    There would be a significant cost to businesses to try to protect their brands in the top level without any specific gain from a consumer perspective.”

    https://www.auda.org.au/assets/pdf/policy/2007npp/2007npp-issue-MELBOURNE-IT-tonkin26.txt

    https://web.archive.org/web/20201021024256/https://www.auda.org.au/assets/pdf/policy/2007npp/2007npp-issue-MELBOURNE-IT-tonkin26.txt

    From: Bruce Tonkin
    Sent: Thursday, 14 June 2007 7:40 PM
    To: [email protected]
    Subject: Melbourne IT response to the 2007 Names Policy Panel issues
    paper, May 2007

    Hello Jo,

    Please find below Melbourne IT’s response to the 2007 Names Policy Panel, issues paper of May 2007.

    Regards,
    Bruce Tonkin
    Chief Technology Officer
    Melbourne IT
    ( now auDA COO)

    (1) Should .au be opened up to direct registrations (e.g domainname.au)? If yes, should there be any policy rules, and if so what rules?

    Melbourne IT is opposed to opening up registrations at the top level of .au.

    The present naming structure has allowed for a stricter policy to apply to .com.au for businesses,
    whilst also supporting less stringent requirements for non-profit organisations via .org.au, or
    individuals via .id.au.

    The naming structure also provides an indication to the user of the nature
    of the licence holder. This contrasts with the .com and .org domains, where anyone is allowed to
    register in either of these spaces, and the distinction is no longer meaningful.

    There is also the possibility for multiple registrants to use the same name, whilst still distinguishing
    their nature.

    For example a name like flinders.com.au used by Flinders Camping is easily distinguished from flinders.edu.au which is the University. This provides more opportunity for registrants to get a simple and easy to remember domain name, and takes advantage of the hierarchy which is a key feature of the DNS.

    The existing second level domains are widely recognised in Australian and internationally.

    A key drawback of introducing names directly at the top level could be damage to the businesses of existing .com.au registrants, when registrations at the top level are made to trade off their reputations.

    There would be a significant cost to businesses to try to protect their brands in the top level without any specific gain from a consumer perspective.

    Whilst other cctlds have indeed increased their volumes of registration since opening up the top level
    of their ccTLD to direct registration, this has generally occurred at the same time as relaxing the policy
    for registrations as well as changing the price point.

    auDA has already significantly relaxed the rules for domain name registration since 2002, and the growth of the .au namespace has tracked the international average for growth.

    (2) Should the policy rules for asn.au, com.au, id.au, net.au and org.au be changed? If yes, what changes should be made?

    Melbourne IT supports the current policy rules which have already been through regular stages of evolution, and have provided a stable environment for the growth and use of the .au domain name space.

    (3) Should registrants be allowed to sell their .au domain names?

    Melbourne IT is in favour of registrants being able to transfer their domain name licence to another eligible party.

    The eligible party would need to comply with the policy rules. The policy rules should be designed
    to protect against various infringements of trademarks, rather than creating separate rules for transfers of licence.

    Currently most of the short and easy to remember domain names have been registered in .com.au. In an open market, registrants place a different value on names according to their likely return from using that name as the identifier for their business.

    These short and easy to remember domain names are not available to the majority of Australian businesses. Either the existing registrant will continue to hold onto the domain name
    as long as they are receiving an economic benefit larger that the current fee to renew the domain name, or if the existing registrant neglects to renew the domain name, professional domain name monetizers will re-register it the second it becomes available again for re-registration.

    There are examples of businesses that obtained their domain name licences under auDA’s auction process for generic names, or its process for obtaining geographic names, that are not effectively using these names, but would not be prepared to simply allow the licence to lapse given the high price they paid for the name.

    Many of these registrants would be prepared to transfer their names to another eligible registrant at lower cost than what they paid for to at least recover part of their investment.

    auDA is being hypocritical by charging high fees for some names, but not allowing the registrant to transfer the name to another eligible registrant.

    Allowing an orderly market for the transfer of domain name licences, and the re-registering of expired domain Name licences, will ensure that domain names are held by those that can make the most effective use of the domain name. The most effective use of any given name is usually not to place the name on a parked page to receive advertising. Overtime more and more names are being ineffectively utilised in this way.

    Melbourne IT believes allowing the transfers of domain name licences consistent with the policy rules, ensures that there will be efficient reuse of domain names.

    Melbourne IT also notes that this is the approach used for most gTLDs and ccTLDs, and also by the Australian Government with respect to phone numbers that can be dialled with alpha-numeric keypads (e.g 1800 PIZZA etc), or vanity car licence plates that are used to identify a particular car.”

    “A load of bollocks”: SMEs demand answers from auDA over introduction of new “.au” domain names
    https://www.smartcompany.com.au/technology/seo/smes-demand-answers-auda-introduction-au-domain/

    “Could your business be affected by auDA’s proposed domain-name shake-up?”
    https://www.myob.com/au/blog/business-affected-auda-proposed-domain-shake-up/

    “Warnings of ‘online catastrophe’ in domain name industry”
    https://www.retailnews.asia/warnings-of-online-catastrophe-in-domain-name-industry/

    “Websites confiscated: Businesses ‘losing everything’ as regulator cracks down on prohibited domains”
    https://www.smartcompany.com.au/technology/websites-confiscated-auda-prohibited-domains/

    https://www.itwire.com/strategy/auda-dissidents-seek-business-case-for-switch-to-au.html

    “Is AUDA new AU domain just a grab for your money”
    http://www.emarketsolutions.com.au/auda-new-au-domain-just-grab-for-your-money-marketing-news-australia/

    “Stop .AU it’s a cash grab that will hurt business”
    https://www.change.org/p/malcolm-turnbull-stop-au-it-s-a-cash-grab-that-will-hurt-business

    “”Smes demand answers auda introduction au domain”
    https://www.smartcompany.com.au/technology/seo/smes-demand-answers-auda-introduction-au-domain/

    “experts warn domain changes hurt smes”
    https://www.smartcompany.com.au/tec…resses-experts-warn-domain-changes-hurt-smes/

    “businesses argue consultation on au domains ignored them”
    https://www.smartcompany.com.au/technology/businesses-argue-consultation-on-au-domains-ignored-them/

    27 May, 2015 Brett Fenton
    https://www.netregistry.com.au/blog/why-we-should-have-anything-au/
    “Bypassing the .com.au or .org.au makes domain names shorter, snappier and more memorable.”

    “auDA To Cripple Businesses”
    https://www.dntrade.com.au/threads/auda-to-cripple-business.11762/

    “auDA PRP Trap”
    https://namebid.com.au/articles/17/prp_trap_direct_au_registrations/

    https://namebid.com.au/articles/16/prp-australian-domain-name-direct-au-registration-forums/

    https://namebid.com.au/articles/18/auda-existing-registrants-priority/

    https://namebid.com.au/articles/15/auda_prp_direct_au_registration/

    “auDA’s PRP ruins the .au namespace”
    https://domainer.com.au/audas-prp-ruin-domain-names/

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  • Avatar
    April 9, 2021 at 9:23 am
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    ebay.com.au – Registrant: ebay Australia and New Zealand Pty Limited ABN 22086288888
    ebay.com.au user agreement: In Australia, the entity you are contracting with is eBay Marketplaces GmbH, Helvetiastrasse 15/17, 3005 Bern, Switzerland.

    Under the new rules:
    1. You can’t lease or sub-license a .au domain to someone else
    2. The exception is a subsidiary or holding company – provided that related company also meets the Australian presence requirement.

    Goodbye eBay?

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