The very valuable commercially modified cow called “Direct Registration” was finally on its way to the milking sheds, having quashed objections and supposedly passing all tests. It was a done deal.

But at the 11th hour the Government expressed concern that not enough consumers had had the opportunity to comment on the potentially radical changes to the eco system.

So the regulator in charge of all cows had a change of heart and decided that “Direct Registration” had to go back to the paddock pending further analysis and feedback. Not only that, they were forced to also put other widely acclaimed changes that would affect all other cows (and the dairy industry) on hold. Dairy farmers, milkers and consumers were left confused and potentially out of pocket.


Putting the above analogy to one side, I don’t really care whether direct registration happens or not. Despite the lack of proper consultation, I had reconciled to it as something that was going to happen come what may (as had many on my side of the fence).

What made it slightly more palatable were the proposed sensible changes to the licensing rules of existing domains. The regulator auDA was widely congratulated for being willing to cut the red tape.  

Pragmatism and quid pro quo ruled – direct registration on one hand; but better, fairer and more relaxed rules for com.au and net.au on the other.

In my opinion, direct registration will flop just like UK and NZ did, but it will give registrars in the .au eco system some much needed temporary impetus (cash flow).

com.au will always be king in Australia, and many domain investors will make money from its introduction.


What Should Happen Now

If it’s back to the drawing boards, then it must be done properly.

Better consultation with every registrant is only the start. Because of all these delays, other proposed changes need to be re-looked at. That seems only fair.

Number one amongst these is the protection of existing registrants (part of original mandate); and in particular, I believe the proposed cut-off date for eligibility to qualify for a chance to get the .au domain should be moved back substantially.

What do you think?

Ned O’Meara – 2nd September 2019


Disclaimer

I have fought long and 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 then I accept the outcome.

14 thoughts on “The Cash Cow

  • Avatar
    September 2, 2019 at 4:47 pm
    Permalink

    Admin Note: This post has been substantially edited to try and keep on topic.

    ——————————————————————————–

    auDA Management, Board and some Supply Registrars shot themselves in the foot and severely have damaged the .au namespace and auDA reputation over the last 3 years.

    auDA management was not the best before 2016 but it has been 3 years of total expensive damaging chaos since they where mostly removed starting in 2016.
    https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/au_domain_administration_ltd_aud
    https://www.auda.org.au/news/2016-agm-announcements/
    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/07/29/chair_australias_internet_registry_out/

    They deliberately attacked the biggest promoters of the current .au namespace, attacked those who wanted to maintain stability plus innovation by updating old auDA .au policy registration red Tape and they by stealth almost destroyed the confidence of the current 3 million paying registrants feeding them!

    Next will be FREE direct .au domain names just like they had to do in Singapore and the United Kingdom UK to get some registrations by falling on their swords!

    FREE .sg https://www.exabytes.sg/domains/sgdomain-ipos
    FREE .sg https://www.vodien.com/sg-free-domains/www.vodien.com
    FREE .uk https://www.dntrade.com.au/threads/nominet-now-giving-away-uk-domains.11644/

    As for doing the “Hokey Pockey” on .au direct registrations this also makes no sense. There is no way it could be introduced under the proposed auDA or auDA Policy Review Panel planned methods, policy, time frames, with the fake and rigged process that was followed by auDA to date etc.
    auDA does the Hockey Pockey with
    – Monetisation Policy
    – Resale Policy
    – .au Policy
    – Wholesale in house domain name Registry http://domainincite.com/21957-auda-now-looking-to-outsource-au-registry
    – auDA increase their “fees” on 3 million _ .au domain name Consumers, Registrars and Resellers 300%! https://www.afr.com/rear-window/audas-share-of-au-domain-name-fees-raises-eyebrows-20180704-h127ui
    – Cancelling up to 250,000 existing registrants long term registered .au names ( Many registered before auDA existed)
    https://domainer.com.au/generic-domain-name-ripped-away-after-22-years/
    https://www.smartcompany.com.au/technology/websites-confiscated-auda-prohibited-domains/

    The auDA Hokey Pockey and rigged process followed is is NOT how to run a company and not how to run the .au namespace which is Australian Critical Infrastructure!

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  • Avatar
    September 3, 2019 at 1:59 am
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    For me the real cash cow is auDA’s monopoly and its wholesale pricing of its domain name services across all .au namespaces. In this regard, I see little transparency and accountability to auDA’s stakeholders.

    Background

    The auDA Board did not accept the recommendation in the final report of 2001 of the Competition Model Advisory Panel’s recommendation 2.3.18. I can find no evidence in auDA Board Minutes that the it ever considered this recommendation.

    “2.3.18 The Panel recommends that auDA ensure that the registry licence agreement allows auDA to adjust the fees charged by the registry operator to registrars taking into account such factors as inflation (eg. consumer price index (CPI)), expected productivity gains (CPI – x, where x>0), risk adjustment, rate of return on registrar investment, and/or the number of domain names under management. The Panel also recommends that the terms of the registry licence agreement enable auDA to vary the licence fees and per domain name levy, in accordance with the auDA budget as agreed in an open, publicly accountable process.” See .

    “Regulatory power
    2.3.20 The Panel notes that the issue of regulatory power is important, and therefore the licence agreement needs to provide auDA with sufficient control over registry functions and wholesale price of registry functions to provide effective regulation, as well as control over licence fees and per domain name levies. In negotiating the licence agreement, auDA should seek to maximise its leverage and flexibility to enforce performance covenants entered into by a registry operator under the agreement – by using a combination of regulatory/commercial penalties (including performance guarantee bonds held by auDA) or incentives. The agreement should ensure that any provisions for excusable events (if appropriate) are clearly defined so that the rights and obligations of both auDA and the registry operator are understood. For reasons of accountability and transparency, the licence agreement should be published.”

    As far as I’m aware, auDA the licence agreement has never been published.

    In a submission by the Small Enterprise Telecommunications Centre (SETEL, substantially Federal Government funded) to the ACCC on 10 Dec 2001, it raised a number of competition and related consumer issues, including Concern 1: Regulation of monopoly provision of registry services. See .

    The ACCC chose not to intervene in the early 2000s and, as far as I’m aware, has not intervened until recently.

    Comment

    Over recent decades the ACCC has had the responsibility for ‘economic’ regulation of most monopoly services across the Australian economy. It has a wealth of economic regulatory experience with CPI-X regimes in relation to telecommunications, airports, pipelines and other monopoly infrastructure.

    As far as I’m aware, the auDA has, by and large avoided the oversight of the ACCC on ‘economic’ regulation. In my view consideration of this issue in a public policy context is long overdue.

    I note the Domainer post of 10 April 2018 disclosed that ACCC’s Paul Zawa resigned from the PRP on 27 Mar 2018.

    I note auDA staff comment at the recent Canberra auDA Members’ meeting that auDA had provided the ACCC with documentation relating to the proposed new .au regulatory scheme. I also note that the Department’s recent letter to auDA makes reference to a need for further consultations with the ACCC.

    To me, this signals that the ACCC is seriously considering its ‘economic’ regulatory responsibilities in relation to auDA, auDA’s monopoly infrastructure, pricing of auDA monopoly services across all domains and consumer protections including for small business as consumers, in the context of auDA’s proposed new regulation regime for .au namespaces.

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  • Avatar
    September 3, 2019 at 5:37 am
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    Boardman screwed over all registrants by not passing on full benefits of the new registry pricing. Registrars got a $12m marketing fund they could tap into. We got nothing.

    Rubbing salt, registrants also have to pay for the right to even be considered for .au allocation. ACCC should look into that as it is unconscionable conduct. Bloody cash cow all right.

    Cut off date is bs. People who have bought premium domains on expired auctions since Feb 2018 can be done over. Dropcatchers should fight auDA on this.

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    • Neddy
      September 3, 2019 at 7:45 am
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      @Alex – the biggest problem everyone is now faced with yet again is uncertainty. This always leads to a sapping of confidence in the aftermarket.

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    • Avatar
      September 3, 2019 at 8:58 am
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      Exactly. All auDA have created over the past 3 years for Australian domain names is uncertainty.

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  • Avatar
    September 3, 2019 at 6:46 am
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    Won’t it be the new auDA Board making final decision on direct reg and licensing?

    • Neddy
      September 3, 2019 at 7:41 am
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      @David – that is my understanding. But who knows what will happen down the track!?

    • Tim
      September 3, 2019 at 9:06 am
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      30 + years of branding is impossible to overcome imo. Existing priority still doesnt stop the cow, unless they can say i dont want it and nobody else can.
      As i have always said. .. when the dubbo dentist gets an email thats when they have contacted all owners. FFS its a database !!!! How simple can it get?

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  • Avatar
    September 3, 2019 at 7:08 am
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    The government has now stepped in to stop a regulator captured by registrars. That was most apparent at the SGM when the membership was captured by those entities.

    In my view the government will never allow direct registrations and it has got to the point where they rightly won’t allow auDA to do anything at all for a very long time. The government knows direct registrations are just a cash grab that works at the expense of Australian business.

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  • Avatar
    September 3, 2019 at 9:06 am
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    As I previously and publicly fired up about at the “live PRP Roadshow” in Perth in February 2018, (https://namebid.com.au/articles/15/auda_prp_direct_au_registration/), the infamous “cut off date” is now definitely 100% going to have to be changed YET AGAIN. That’s IF Direct Registration even comes into existence at all, at this point.

    All the “cut off date” did to Australian Domain Names over the past few years, was cause FEAR and UNCERTAINTY.

    The “cut off date” was invented by The PRP (particularly two PRP head honchos) and endorsed by auDA.

    It was a BIG mistake and ruined trust in “.com.au”.

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    • Scott.L
      September 3, 2019 at 10:48 am
      Permalink

      Funnily enough, if the cut-off date is moved forward then those who bought during that time will then be subject to the conflicted names process (when previously it was first in best dressed) – IMHO, the cut-off date was designed to create a conflicted names process, (masquerading as a capital raising exercise for auDA and the Registry) levied against multiple namespaces locked into into paying a yearly application fee for one Domain name, indefinitely.

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  • Scott.L
    September 3, 2019 at 9:37 am
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    Conjecture is not a basis for market research – an ill-informed three question survey directed to an uneducated / almost misinformed public, cannot be taken as a reliable indicator of consumer demand for direct registrations.

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  • Avatar
    September 3, 2019 at 12:29 pm
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    From a NZ perspective, .nz has failed and confused.

    On the plus side, the co.nz registrants were offered first rights and had a couple of years to make their mind up free of charge. Still a cash cow, but not as hungry or greedy as our trans-Tasman neighbours.

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