The Elephant In The Room

Let me paint you a potential scenario that sends a shiver down my spine as an .au domain name investor and registrant. And if it worries me, it should worry everyone!

Scenario

♦  You see a valuable com.au domain name on the expired auctions, and you bid big for it (let’s say mid to high 4 figures), and you win it. Very exciting.

♦  Even though the domain name may have been around for over a decade, because it is an “expired domain”, “the create date” starts from scratch i.e. if you bought it on the drops on 26th July 2017; that’s the effective “create date” at the registry. If you don’t believe me, take any domain you have bought on the drops recently, and then do a password recovery here. This will show you the “create date”.

♦  Behind the scenes, auDA and its “Direct Registration Advisory Panel” is working feverishly on how best to implement direct registrations i.e. who gets the .au? Should it be the com.au holder (the premium domain name extension in Australia); or should it perhaps go to whoever has held the domain name in any extension for the longest period? Say an .org.au or a .net.au or an id.au.

♦  auDA decides to adopt the recommendation contained on Page 41 of the “Phase Two (Quantitative and Qualitative II) report”.

♦  The guy that bought the .net.au of the same domain name nearly 3 years ago for a princely $25 is now potentially going to be awarded first rights to the .au. Why? Because his official “create date” at the registry is January 1, 2015.

Is that fair? Does that create market confidence?

The Other Side Of The Coin

If you have bought or sold an aftermarket domain (one that hasn’t expired and had its “create date” reset), then you get to keep the original “create date” at the registry.

For instance, I recently purchased Eagle.com.au on the aftermarket. Have a look at the “create date” – I haven’t been “reset”.

That to my mind gives a USP (unique selling proposition) for aftermarket domains!

Don’t Despair Though!

This “Longest License Holders Likely To Have First Rights” is exactly the same bulldust that Nominet started off with in the UK. Honestly, when I read auDA’s Quantitative and Qualitative Report, it was déjà vu.

Have a read of this post I wrote on Domainer back in September 2015 – Trials And Tribulations Of .UK

Nominet’s initial proposal for direct registrations was met with howls of outrage; and they quickly had to abandon it. In essence, they wanted to give trademark holders “first dibs” on .uk; followed by everyone else on an equal footing. Given that approx 93% of the UK domain space was registered to .co.uk, the unhappiness was understandable.

And this:

Nominet were ultimately forced to do another two rounds of public submissions / proposals. Why? Because “people power” forced them to do so. Submissions; complaints; threats of legal action etc.

To their credit, Nominet listened and acted. The final outcome was a victory for common sense. In essence, the holders of the .co.uk domain were granted first rights to the .uk domain. The outcome was again succinctly summarised by Ron Jackson of DNJournal:

“As anyone would expect, .co.uk owners immediately took up arms (with one of England’s most senior industry veterans, Edwin Hayward, among those at the forefront of the protest). Nominet backed off and began revising their strategy. After moving to a second set of proposed rules, then a third, Nominet finally announced on Wednesday (Nov. 20, 2013) that .uk domains are coming next year but with a substantially different set of rules than were first proposed. Current .co.uk owners will retain rights to their names in .uk for five years and the price for a .uk will be the same as it has been for .co.uk.”

Conclusion

Not only is there no true demand for direct registrations (and they shouldn’t be brought in at all), but if they are introduced without proper safeguards being put in place for .com.au holders, then the scenario I have highlighted at the top of the page will potentially come into play.

That’s one of the main reasons Shane Moore and I are running for the auDA Board.

Ned O’Meara – 10th August 2017


Disclaimer

 

22 thoughts on “The Elephant In The Room

  • Avatar
    August 10, 2017 at 11:14 am
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    “Is that fair? Does that create market confidence?”

    to answer that question on the surface it may ‘sound fair’ but the Australian business market has grown to ‘adopt’ .com.au as a source of trust and acceptance over the years. I feel market confidence will drop when doing online business when there are 2 variations of extension almost identical creating confusion amongst the general public.

    Personally a domains registration date should not be considered as 1st right preference. For the greater good of the Australian online business market dotAU should be given to the .com.au holder as 1st preference.

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  • Scott.L
    August 10, 2017 at 11:27 am
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    auDA has always been about what is fair. I would say trademarks first and then longest licence.” – Regulator (page 41)
    Yeah, that’s fair?
     
    Obviously written by a regulator with no invested interest in the DNS or one who sees the opportunity to indirectly profit from a conflict by its introduction.

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  • Avatar
    August 10, 2017 at 12:16 pm
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    With the .com market…

    Hang on…

    I just cross-referenced a .com name to prove the Creation Date isn’t changed with .com – but strangely my Creation Dates for all my .com domain names that have been moved to TPP have ALSO BEEN RESET to recent Creation Dates?!?!

    Is this a fundamental design flaw at NetRegistry and Melbourne IT?!?!?! Are they overwriting Creation Data HISTORY of all domain names?!?!?!? Not only .com.au but also .com?!?!? For how long has this been happening?????

    For example, look up my name MelbourneAccommodation.com

    The creation date is 2015 – but if you look at Wayback Machine, it was created in 2003..

    What the hell is going on here?!

     

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  • Avatar
    August 10, 2017 at 12:42 pm
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    Not to take away from Ned’s article, but this concept has blown my mind.

    I’ll deal with .com Creation Date’s being overwritten soon…

    I’ll stay on topic with this article…

    I get what Ned is saying…

    Anyone who is buying a .com.au off the Drops at the moment, could be wasting their money!

    If the second auDA potential rule: “whoever has held the domain name in any extension for the longest period” gets in, this obviously means that someone who has the .net.au or .id.au will score the name, over someone who paid $5000 (for example) on the drops for a name…

    Now that this is out of the bag, why would any of us waste money on the Drops if the creation date is reset to today?

    CRAZY TOWN!!

    This potential rule needs to be EXPLAINED and RULED OUT by auDA extremely quickly. It is officially damaging the Drop Aftermarket as of this very moment, now that this article has been made public.

    Drop Catchers: are you guys now knowingly selling Dropped names with brand new creation dates for thousands of dollars, that are going to lose out to direct .AU registrations of less-popular .net.au and .id.au TLD’s if the “longest period” rule comes into effect???

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  • Avatar
    August 10, 2017 at 1:08 pm
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    I thought this was generally assumed with most taking the cut off being the date of the announcement that direct registrations were being considered in the .au space. They did the same thing in NZ from memory.

    • Avatar
      August 10, 2017 at 1:25 pm
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      It has been up for debate for so long that even auDA wouldn’t be able to put a date on when it was first considered. 10 years, 5 years, 2 years, 6 months ???????

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      • Avatar
        August 10, 2017 at 1:43 pm
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        Exactly Lemon, there’s NO WAY auDA can make the cut-off date the “date of the announcement”.

        They have announced the concept of direct .AU registrations multiple times over the past 5-10 years!! And it may not come in for another 10, or may not come in EVER!

    • Ned O'Meara
      August 10, 2017 at 1:31 pm
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      I was on the Names Panel, and this was never clarified.

      There was supposed to be a subsequent industry panel that would look at methods of implementation; existing rights etc. That still hasn’t taken place, though auDA have recently announced that a policy review panel will soon commence. This will include the topic of direct registrations.

      The point of my article today was simply to point out that with this level of uncertainity, would you spend thousands on an expired domain name on the drops?

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  • Shane Moore
    August 10, 2017 at 1:15 pm
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    If auDA goes down the path of awarding the direct registration to the longest licence holder, I can imagine all hell breaking loose.  It’s the worst possible option of those available.

    If direct registrations are introduced, option 1 must be to follow the UK model, which is that com.au holders have first rights.

    Option 2 is the NZ model, where the direct registration goes into “conflicted” status if there are multiple registrants across multiple extensions.

    The least attractive option is that the longest licence holder receives the name.  This is largely due to the issue of drop-caught domains having their creation date reset.

    Of course the best option is to simply not introduce direct registrations.

    They are not needed, there is no demand, they have failed overseas and they will weaken the overall .au space thanks to the added confusion amongst consumers.

    PS.  Whoever wrote the auDA report needs to learn the difference between lose and loose. 🙂

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    • Avatar
      August 10, 2017 at 2:09 pm
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      I love how simple you have made this Shane.

      These are the options that should have been put forward to Australia on National TV so every Australian business name holder could properly vote:
      Option 1: follow the UK model, which is that com.au holders have first rights.
      Option 2: follow the NZ model, where the direct registration goes into “conflicted” status if there are multiple registrants across multiple extensions.
      Option 3: The longest licence holder (from a specific cut-off date in time) receives the name.  However, there is the issue that drop-caught domains have always been having their creation date reset. So having a “dropped” domain becomes a handicap.
      Option 4: Don’t introduce direct registrations.
      If this was broadcast on a massive scale, exactly as you outlined, and at least ten thousand Australian businesses voted, I would go with the majority vote. I for one would shut my mouth. Because it would be a fair voting system. Until then, how can anyone be sure the chosen option isn’t being manipulated?

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      • Luke Summers
        August 10, 2017 at 2:55 pm
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        My answer:

        Option 4

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  • Avatar
    August 10, 2017 at 1:21 pm
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    Back in 2002 there were also generic .com.au names that were reserved (not available to be registered) as opposed to .net.au which were not. Thus anyone who participated in the generic auctions, and paid some big money, will potentially lose out if it comes down to ‘longest first’. Not sure if this is the same scenario with Geographical names but I would assume so.

    Perhaps we should have a plebiscite of all domain holders. Obviously the majority will be in .com.au  (2.7 million as opposed to 280 thousand). I wonder which way the results will go?

     

     

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    • Avatar
      August 10, 2017 at 2:11 pm
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      Good point!

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    • Ned O'Meara
      August 10, 2017 at 2:16 pm
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      @Lemon – will that be a “postal” plebiscite? 😉

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      • Avatar
        August 10, 2017 at 3:00 pm
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        I think that would be best.

        Estimated cost: $10,000,000

        Just a snippet from the Ausregistry marketing budget.

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        • Ned O'Meara
          August 10, 2017 at 3:17 pm
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          I’ve spoken to the PM about it Lemon.

          Plebiscite

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  • Ned O'Meara
    August 10, 2017 at 2:41 pm
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    Here’s another curly one for you all.

    What about the poor registrant that has had a premium .com.au domain name for donkey’s years, and then they lose it because of any number of reasons e.g. didn’t get renewal notice; registrant contact left etc. Those of us active on the drops over many years have seen that happen time and time again.

    So they bid big on the drops to get it back; or they approach whoever snapped it and offer to buy it from them. A new create date is set, and if and when .au comes in, someone who has had the .net.au for 12 months gets first dibs.

    Fair?

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    • Avatar
      August 10, 2017 at 2:46 pm
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      Can see AUDA ending up in court over that one.

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  • Scott.L
    August 10, 2017 at 3:30 pm
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    I imagine a ‘Licensee Transfer of Title System‘ if introduced would be a good idea to stop that type of data being lost due to technical laziness.  

  • Avatar
    August 10, 2017 at 7:12 pm
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    Oh dear Ned. Now you’re doing an Abbott. Spreading fear for no reason. The Names Policy Panel wasn’t established to work out how to implement second level registrations. There are numerous ways to implement second level registrations, and it’s only domainers that are raging against them without even waiting to see what policies are suggested as likely.

    • Ned O'Meara
      August 10, 2017 at 7:33 pm
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      David, let’s not spoil the new friendship and get political. 😉

      Please read my story properly. I raise what I believe to be a real issue regarding “create dates”.

      With regards direct registrations, that is the one issue we’ve always differed on.

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    • Avatar
      August 10, 2017 at 11:45 pm
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      I don’t agree that it is only domainers that are raging against them. There are plenty of small and large businesses that have invested in the .au namespace that have been waiting for a very long time on a decision on this issue. The debate has been going on for a long time. Direct registrations will come about. The implementation is now what is up for discussion. You have been around for a long time, like many of us. Now is the time to make decisions and IMHO I am not sure that the regulators are capable of doing it.

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