I think it is helpful to look at what happened in the UK when they went through the same process.
Edwin is one of the best placed people to do so – his experience in the domain name industry goes back to 1996. He owns thousands of premium domain names; and his company Memorable Domains Ltd is also a Nominet member and Registrar. He is also referenced in the iconic “The Domain Name Game”, a book by David Kesmodel.
In the UK, Nominet is the domain name authority as the auDA is to Australia.
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.
Ron Jackson from the widely respected DNJournal wrote this at the time:
Naturally, such a development would immediately devalue the millions of .co.uk domains held by British businesses and individuals who would need to try to acquire the .uk version to protect their online identities. Unfortunately the Nominet proposal (.pdf file) provides no grandfather clause to protect those registrants – and, oh yes, even if they were successful in getting the .uk version of their .co.uk domain, they would have to pay 800% more annually for the UK version (about £20 for the .uk compared to around £2.50 for the tried and true .co.uk).
The biggest criticism of Nominet though was their unwillingness to contact all existing (and affected registrants). This was neatly identified by Edwin Hayward when he said:
Why haven’t I heard about this before?
That’s not really surprising, since Nominet has no plans to ask individual domain registrants what they think of their proposal. Indeed, they claim that to do so would expose them to charges of spamming. By limiting their request for feedback to the 2,800 Nominet Members, it’s like getting farmers to vote on Christmas without asking the turkeys…
Hmmm – that sounds familiar. 😉
Cutting A Long Story Short
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 veterana, 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.
This outcome was also detailed in the Issues Paper released by the auDA Names Panel in April this year (Attachment “A”):
Other Reading Matter
If you want an ever better overview of what the UK public and businesses thought, please read some of these links which Edwin kindly supplied.
If you are concerned about how direct registrations of .au domain names may affect you, then you have just 13 days left to make a submission.
There are two ways in which you can submit comments to the Panel:
1. Send a written submission to:
Jo Lim, Chief Operations and Policy Officer, auDA
fax: 03 8341 4112
All submissions will be posted on the auDA website unless clearly marked confidential.
The closing date for submissions is Wednesday 30 September 2015.
2. Complete the online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WKZZLPV
- I am a member of the auDA 2015 Names Policy Panel.
- I am also a domainer / domain investor with a substantial portfolio of com.au domain names.
- I therefore have a “vested interest”.