If you use an Australian domain name, then this applies to you.

auDA (the Australian domain name regulator) wants to introduce “direct registration”, and it is supposedly coming soon. Panels, public consultation, focus groups and roadshows have all been done. All boxes ticked as far as auDA is concerned.

The trouble is, a lot of SME’s wouldn’t even have a clue this is happening; and if they are aware; I’ll bet you bottom dollar that they don’t know all their rights and entitlements.

So I’ve put up some Questions and Answers to assist those not in the know.

Q & A

Q: What is “direct registration” – and how does it affect you or any other small business?

A: It is the ability to register an Australian domain name at the “second level” instead of the current “third level” e.g. yourname.com.au or yourname.net.au is “third level”; yourname.au is “second level” or “direct registration”. There are many who would welcome this; and equally, many who wouldn’t.

Q: If you currently use a domain name e.g. yourname.com.au, are you guaranteed of getting yourname.au?

A: No. auDA has an allocation process, and there may be other eligible candidates (including Government departments!). (See real life example below).

Q: Could a competitor of mine end up with yourname.au?

A: Yes, it is possible. (See real life example below).

Q: If I / we choose to be part of the allocation process, is it going to cost me / us money?

A: Yes. Unlike their counterparts in NZ and the UK,  auDA intends charging a fee to anyone eligible to apply for allocation; and this fee could be ongoing year after year until someone “wins”.

Q: Who gets that money?

A: The supply side of the domain name business – auDA, Afilias (the registry operator), and registrars.

Q: Should I / we be successful in acquiring yourname.au, and decide to keep yourname.com.au as well, do I / we have to pay two registration fees every year?

A: Yes. If you don’t pay both, then one of the domain names will expire, and theoretically anybody (including your competition) can pick it up.

Q: How come I / we haven’t been told directly about this proposed process (and all the small print) by auDA or our registrar? They have my / our email address.

A: Now that’s a really good question! A few of us have been agitating for ages for that to happen.  


Here is an example of what could happen

Sport.com.au is an extremely valuable domain name. But are the current registrants guaranteed of acquiring Sport.au? Unfortunately not.

These are all the entities that have the rights to apply for allocation; and yes, they all have to pay a fee if they want to stand a chance. And keeping paying that fee until attrition rules. Of course, the current registrant of Sport.com.au could try and do a “deal” with everyone else on this list. Good luck with that!


There is some good news

DoCA (Department of Communications and the Arts) have now requested auDA to consult further with business before they implement any changes to the .au landscape. The auDA Chair has committed to this on the 21st August 2019.

As an added factor, there will also be a complete new auDA Board in place come November, and that any big decisions should hopefully be reviewed with fresh eyes.


As always, happy to be corrected if I have anything wrong. Comments are also welcome.

Ned O’Meara – 10th September 2019


Disclaimer

I have fought hard against direct registration over many years. This includes being a dissenting member of 2015 Names Panel. I was also the initial Demand Class representative of the PRP until I briefly became an auDA Director. But I also believe in proper process, and if this happens – including all registrants being properly notified – (and I’m on the losing side), then I accept that outcome.

12 thoughts on “Aussie Domain Name Changes Coming Soon?

  • Avatar
    September 10, 2019 at 9:51 am
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    There will be barely any interest in .au

    .au will be just another .id.au – a meaningless extension

    .au just like .id.au will not have an ABN or commercial requirement

    .au will be the extension of choice for Facebook mums, book clubs, kids toy library organizers, craft market stallholders, old timers showcasing their model train kits and/or pet alpacas, axe-to-grind political commentators, ‘for sale by owner’ one-off (crap) real estate listings and of course the many spammers who will find it all to easy to register .au names to deceased persons and others without their permission, there not being any eligibility requirements besides an Australian address.

    Lots of fun!

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    • Neddy
      September 10, 2019 at 12:48 pm
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      Though auDA will will still effectively force many registrants to pay the application fee. Fear of loss.

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      • Avatar
        September 10, 2019 at 12:58 pm
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        I think you’re overestimating .au

        Fact is most businesses don’t even get or want the corresponding .net.au if they have the .com.au!

        and .net.au has 25 years of history as an extension and contrary to some opinions DOES actually rank well in search. (.net.au did not previously – but that was back in the 2000s and prior)

        So if they won’t get .net.au the fact is there will be no rush to .au, which will NOT be recognised by search engines, mail programs and hosting programs, let alone consumers

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        • Avatar
          September 11, 2019 at 10:03 am
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          We do not know, whether .AU will be SEO friendly or not.. or it might be successful or not… It might get popularity. Issue is nonstop conflict between .com.au owners and .net.au owners, while registrars and AUDA making profit from that war.
          It should be given free to the .com.au owner..

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          • Avatar
            September 11, 2019 at 2:16 pm
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            Yes we do based on the experience of .uk, .nz, .us, .melbourne, .sydney and all the other crap extensions

            If Google doesn’t embrace them no one else does, period

            So there is no issue. No more than two neighbours contesting ownership of dog poo left on an easement between them

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  • Scott.L
    September 10, 2019 at 10:09 am
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    auDA Corporate Principle 3:
    auDA is required to administer and manage the .au ccTLD in the public interest. The auDA Board will adopt the policy option that provides the greatest net benefit to the Australian community. The net benefit may be intangible, such as increased consumer confidence in transacting with entities using a .au domain name.

    Confidence is lost when auDA implements a duplicate commercial namespace whilst holding the namespace hostage to ransom-ware policy. The only net benefit I see in implementing direct registration is auDA raking in a monopoly rent from its consumer base. Exactly what net benefit does auDA provide to the Australian People when business owners are held hostage to ransom-ware policy which forces them to pay a yearly fee for a domain name that does not exist, cannot be controlled, and cannot be utilised as an asset?

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  • Avatar
    September 10, 2019 at 11:10 am
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    In your example (sport) I see your government are holding majority of rights – your government pay 6 times more money for 1 domain to your regulator, your tax payers are getting shafted.

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  • Avatar
    September 10, 2019 at 1:25 pm
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    This is akin to extortion by your regulator. Fancy being forced to pay a fee for something you may never have. Direct reg in NZ was a failure, but at least we weren’t charged while we made our mind up over a 2 year period.

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  • Avatar
    September 11, 2019 at 2:28 pm
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    I think they just need to get on with it now. I don’t see any issues with the implementation procedure that was finally decided upon as it provides an equal opportunity to all current registrants across the different .au extensions which is the way it should be. Indeed I think they were a little generous on the cut-off date. If people don’t think the new extension is necessary, don’t want it or don’t think it will be successful they have the choice not to apply which is again a fair choice. I don’t think they could make this any fairer. I also agree with the requirement to pay a fee to apply because it will sort out the fence sitters from the people who really want the new extension and it may also deter some registrants from possibly sabotaging the new extension by holding the domain name in a conflicted state and not allowing it to be assigned to anyone which is more likely if it’s not costing them anything.

    Reply
    • Scott.L
      September 11, 2019 at 9:47 pm
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      Equality? I think introducing an all-inclusive namespace proclaiming equality of rights for all defeats the purpose of having unique identifiers, different policy conditions, and various namespaces, I would argue inequality is progressive, otherwise you may as well deleted the entire name tree, and just have one!

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    • Avatar
      September 12, 2019 at 5:53 am
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      How is this fair? com.au has always been promoted by auDA and the previous registry operator as the premium extension in Australia. Just like co.nz and co.uk. I didn’t have to pay a fee to protect my prior rights in either of those countries.

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      • Avatar
        September 12, 2019 at 9:18 am
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        There’s no hierarchical rights in the .au space and that argument had been done to death so I have nothing to add there. I was involved in the nz and uk releases also although I’ve moved away from both spaces now. I know your heavily involved in nz. I’ve lost track of the conflicted names scenario in nz. Are there still conflicted names to be resolved and by making people pay a fee as discussed above would that have resolved some of the conflicts earlier because that is basically where I’m coming from with regards to my comments supporting the fee.

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