Two Sides Of The Story

Pulling Hair DFCAfter writing about one of my mates receiving a complaint from auDA last week (which he successfully defended), I then got a complaint last Friday! As I’ve said previously, I’m proud to say that in all my years of domaining, I have received only a handful of complaints. And I’ve never lost a domain.

The complaint was on a 3 letter domain, and basically it was a carbon copy of the process I wrote about back in September.

I was able to immediately adjust the keywords on the domain through the Fabulous platform (via a 2 click lander), and within 1 hour I advised auDA that I had done so. On Monday, I received notification that all was good, and that the complaint was effectively dismissed.

This Is Where It Gets Interesting

Given that I had received an offer on the domain in the preceding two weeks (which didn’t culminate in a sale), I had a fairly good idea who had made the complaint. 😉 Obviously the auDA complaints process is anonymous, therefore I couldn’t know for sure.

So I sent the guy an email, and he ‘fessed up and said it was him.

Unlike the situation I wrote about yesterday, this bloke seemed a nice guy (despite the complaint). So I thought it would be good to engage him and ask why he had made the complaint. Sometimes we can learn things when we walk in the shoes of someone else.

So here is a reproduction of the exchange between us (I’ll skip the initial negotiation stage). What I liked about this guy is that he didn’t go off half-cocked – he had actually read all the policy including the “Guidelines on the Interpretation of Policy Rules”:

Me:

“Someone made a complaint to auDA about this domain (which they didn’t accept).

My guess is that it was probably you Vic. On doing a little research, I see you have —.net.au (I can understand why you would want the com.au).

May I ask why you bothered to complain? I thought we had a respectful conversation.

Regards, Ned”

Him:

“Hey Ned,

Yes it was me. In my honest opinion I don’t understand how acronym com.au’s can be monetized under the auDA policy and indeed I still fail to accept that what —.com.au points to right now meets the auDA policies – but they no longer care.

I am now of the opinion that auDA is about as useful as a wet paper bag and exists simply to profit, which is disappointing considering they are effectively the caretakers for what is really a national asset; their policies and regulations are written in a way that is so ambiguous that they are effectively worthless. But I should probably not be surprised with the way things are these days.

People can make money off whatever, good for them. I have been working ridiculously hard to start a small engineering business where we actually add value to raw product to make tangible items. It has been a massive challenge to encourage my team (read: friends) to put their time into the project and I have funded everything out my own pocket with zero payback for several years now so I get somewhat frustrated at having to pay large fees for arbitrary things. You can call me a communist but I just can’t agree with the whole “I got it first” mentality.

I guess I also have a slightly biased experience having not so long ago purchased a 2 letter .com.au from someone offering it for sale for $150.

I’ll admit I was surprised and was willing to pay maybe 2 or 3 times that purely for convenience but above that I just can’t fathom.

No hard feelings Ned, I guess it’s just the way of the world,

Vic”

Me:

“So Vic, just because you couldn’t get the domain, why should that give you the right to try and strip me of a domain name that I legitimately purchased?

I mean if I bought some beachfront land long ago (and never built on it), should you be able to complain to the local Council or Land Titles Office and ask them to revoke my ownership?

I’m not out to get into an argument with you – I genuinely want to try and understand your thought process behind the complaint.

After all, this is the auDA policy: https://www.auda.org.au/policies/2012-04/

2.3 There is no hierarchy of rights in the DNS. For example, a registered trade mark does not confer any better entitlement to a domain name than a registered company or business name. Domain name licences are allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Provided the relevant eligibility and allocation rules are satisfied, the first registrant whose application for a particular domain name is submitted to the registry will be permitted to license it.

Regards, Ned”

Him:

“No, not all all. I don’t for a second believe a domain name is anything like a property, but we can probably argue this point ad nauseam. To use your analogy however, if there was a local regulation that stipulated that you had to build on that block of land and you hadn’t why shouldn’t I complain? If there is a rule everyone should abide by it.

I understand that, however 2012-04 – Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for the Open 2LDs suggests that for .COM.AU, the registrant must have a close or substantial connection to the name as per the categories of “close and substantial connection” set out in the Guidelines on the Interpretation of Policy Rules for the Open 2LDs.

You obviously don’t have that however under the monetisation guidelines 2012-04 – Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for the Open 2LDs, in particular Schedule C, Part 3, subsection a, you can hold the domain as long as what it resolves to is related specifically and predominantly to subject matter denoted by the domain name.

Not withstanding that I think this caveat is crazy – while I accept that a domain like flowers.com.au might have advertising for flowers I cannot understand how you can meet this rule with a three letter acronym domain name.

Going back to your analogy – Unlike what you describe auDA have no power to give me a complainant a domain name even if the complaint was accepted and moreover – you obviously changed the contents of the site to appease auDA so I guess they did believe you did not meet this rule.  So to answer your question that is why I felt I could complain and I guess I was at least partly justified. In hindsight I shouldn’t have bothered, sorry for wasting your time.

Vic”

Me:

“Thanks for the honest reply Vic. It’s good to try and understand your pov.

Domains are valuable cyber property; particularly in the USA where 6 and 7 figure sales are commonplace.

Values are steadily rising in Australia – especially on premium domains (including 3 letter acronyms). That’s why I gave you that sales evidence initially.

I believe in free trade, and genuinely think there shouldn’t be any restrictions on .au domains (as there isn’t on dot com; .uk and .nz).

All the best.

Regards, Ned”

Conclusion

Seems to me that Vic made his complaint based on principle. He understood he wouldn’t be awarded the domain even if his complaint was upheld.

He pointed out (quite rightly imo) what I believe is one of the “difficulties” of current policy (in relation to acronym domains).

We all know that if your “close and substantial connection” is based on “domain monetisation”, then your domains have to have monetised links that relate to the actual domain name. Fair enough – that’s auDA policy, and we all have to comply.

However, this can be quite challenging sometimes with acronym domains – particularly if you are “parking” your domains as many of us do. I respectfully pointed this out at last year’s auIGF. Given that auDA do give registrants the “opportunity to rectify” should a complaint be made; it is my belief that 3 letter domains should be exempt from this policy. Otherwise all parties are effectively just “playing a game”.

I would be very interested in your thoughts and comments on any of the points raised in this post.

 

11 thoughts on “Two Sides Of The Story

  • April 6, 2016 at 11:28 am
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    Vic comes from a long line of peoples thoughts that they need a certain domain name matching there business say abn.com.au but when they find out that it is owned and owned by some who owns many names not just a name for there own business and they now have to pay more than they expected because we see it as an investment not just a name and we look for an offer that offers us a return on our investment thats when all hell breaks loose and a sense of unfairness and anger directed at the domainer who wants to make money from something he is not aloud too it often ends in arguements as it is very hard to change a mind that feels it has beed wronged

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 6, 2016 at 4:23 pm
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      @Shane – I certainly don’t agree with some of Vic’s rationale and reasoning, but at least he’s not like that bloke Corey in yesterday’s story! 😉

  • April 6, 2016 at 11:46 am
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    Gave you and Vic an opportunity to network which may end up in a four figure sale in near future Ned 🙂

    • Ned O'Meara
      April 6, 2016 at 4:20 pm
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      @Manmeet – I like keeping doors open. It’s easy when the person on the other side is of a similar mind.

  • Scotty
    April 6, 2016 at 8:17 pm
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    LOL…The irony is his confession in buying a 2L com.au because it was cheap…is he using it, has he optimised it according to AUDA policy…if he can’t use it for his business, well you know what I’m saying.

    • April 7, 2016 at 12:10 pm
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      Hi Scotty,

      I’m the Vic that Ned is referring to. Ned and I have come to an agreement and I am in the process of purchasing the domain from him.

      I just thought I would set the record straight regarding your comment about the 2L .com.au I purchased some time ago; I was acting on behalf of someone else – it has a complete 100% match to the companies name, isn’t “parked” and is used daily by the business.

      I included reference to that simply for contrast; if someone says the market value for something is x but you yourself have experience procuring something similar that you believe has an even higher intrinsic value (2L vs 3L) for less than x you tend to get frustrated and doubt the appraisal. In hindsight I probably was just lucky.

      • April 7, 2016 at 1:17 pm
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        A quick follow-up to this, Ned has pointed out that what I thought was a 2L .com.au was indeed actually a number-letter NL .com.au domain so I was wrong in calling it a 2L. Hence I stand corrected – my thinking it had comparable valuable was wrong.

        • Scotty
          April 7, 2016 at 8:55 pm
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          Hi Vic,

          I’m confused…did you purchase the domain and transfer it to your ABN…

          Or,

          Did you negotiated the sale on behalf of your mates business and the domain was transfered to your mates business ABN?

          Or,

          Did you negotiat the sale of the domain and pay the seller but had the seller transfer it to your mates business ABN?

          Or,

          Did you pay for it and transfered it to your business name and then transfer it to your mates business name.

          And out of curiosity….if you paid for it and transfered it to your own business name before transferring to your mates business name Did your mate pay you for it? You know, a little profit for the effort.

          I fiigure you may as well clear the air, now you made a public response.

          Kind regards…

           

           

          • April 7, 2016 at 10:28 pm
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            Hi Scotty,

            Not sure what the difference is between option a) and b) but I think

            “..Negotiated the sale (purchase) on behalf of your mates business and the domain was transferred to your mates business ABN (ACN)?” 

            is the one that fits the most. And no, I didn’t resell it at a profit to him.

            Cheers,

            Vic

            • Scotty
              April 8, 2016 at 7:25 pm
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              Thanks Vic, there is a slight difference between them that relates to AUDA policy rules….

              I agree with Alex comment regarding being open and willing to discuss the issues.

              As A domain investor myself it’s good to see it from those who are on the “outside” looking in at our business within this intellectual property space.

              Thanks Vic, I hope it goes well for you.

  • April 8, 2016 at 10:00 am
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    Kudos to you Vic, for being so open and willing to discuss this in a respectful manner!

    I’m sure this went a long way towards finding common ground with Ned, and coming to an agreement!

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