The .berlin registry has apparently halted the promotion that has given away tens of thousands of free domain names, citing unexpectedly high demand.
According to 101domain, a registrar that started giving away .berlin domains for free yesterday:
As of 1pm PST today, June 18th, the free .BERLIN promotion will unfortunately come to an end.
According to the dotBERLIN registry, demand was exceedingly above their anticipated volumes, so they have decided to pull the plug early.
The promotion, which led to domainers registered tens of thousands of names, was due to end on Friday.
Why has dotBERLIN pulled the plug? I have to wonder whether it is related to the company’s own registration policies, which are not particularly domainer-friendly.
The .berlin TLD started today at 121,193 names, according to its zone file, up 5,227 on the day.
Over 70,000 of those names were registered in the last two days, and most of those are believed to be freebies handed out by InternetX and, as of yesterday, 101domain.
As we reported yesterday, one domainer, DomainProfi, is responsible for over 23,000 of these registrations.
Another massive registrant, as DNW reported today, is Sedo-affiliated DomCollect, part of the same group (United Internet) as InternetX. It has over 30,000 .berlin names.
It’s difficult to see any of these names being developed or used in any meaningful way — they seem to be currently parked — yet the dotBERLIN registration policy may require it.
The English translation of the policy (pdf) states:
5.2. Conditions for the content and use of domain names
As the gTLD .BERLIN is a so-called “community based” gTLD, where the registration of domain names is subject to restrictions, a domain name must be put into use within 12 months of registration.
If the registrant sets up a web site which can be reached via the registered domain name, the content of this site must have be directly related to the authorisation to register
The first part of that seems simple: you have to “use” the domain within a year or risk losing it.
The “authorisation to register” appears to be the registrant’s self-declared “economic, cultural, historical, social or other connection to the German capital, Berlin”.
I interpret the two paragraphs together to read: “You must use the name in a manner that reflects your connection to Berlin”.
Does this mean parking is prohibited? There’s nothing explicit banning it, but I’d say it’s definitely a grey area. It seems to be down to the decision of the registry.
I asked dotBERLIN for clarification this morning but have not yet received one.
For the registrants, there seems to be little risk, however. They haven’t paid for their names and probably don’t intend to renew any that they can’t sell before renewal time.