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dotFree’s “free” domain names explained

Kevin Murphy, August 12, 2010, 10:49:00 (UTC), Domain Registries

As I reported a couple of days ago, a Czech company called The dotFree Group wants to apply to ICANN for a .free top-level domain, and will offer domain names for free.

Now for the small print – not all .free domain names will be free, and there will be strict limitations on how many free domains any given individual is able to register.

Here is an email interview I conducted with dotFree chief executive Dominique Piatti, which I think covers the basics of the business model and contains a few surprises.

I’ve corrected a few typos, but other than that it’s unedited.

DI: Applying for a new TLD will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and running it over the longer term will cost more. How does dotFree plan to cover the cost of running a free TLD?

Piatti: We are working with Venture Capital companies together from Eastern Europe and have an estimated turnover of EUR 1.25 million for 2011. In addition to this we are generating substantial revenue with our current projects (which is a free second-level domain name registry) and with the Domain Registrar Script which is currently in version 1.3.5 (

DI: .free could be a desirable TLD for domain investors. Will there be any limitations on how many .free domains an individual is allowed to register? What would prevent a single person registering hundreds of thousands of .free domains?

Piatti: Yes, currently we plan that each individual is allow to have 1 .free domain at no costs within their account. If a user plans to have more domain names he can upgrade to VIP status (eg. $5/year and you can hold up to 20 domains in your account) similar like we have it successfully tested with over the past 12 months. We have an advanced fraud detection tool developed which identifies double accounts owned by the same person.

DI: Do you anticipate a .free aftermarket? Would somebody be able to register, for example, “” for free and then sell it to somebody else for hundreds of thousands of dollars?

Piatti: Yes, we launch .free the same way as any other TLD in the market with the difference that every individual can have a .free domain at no costs. We will launch similar to the most recent TLD’s like .co and .me with premium domains, auctions etc. Also, aftermarket sales are possible therefore.

DI: Would “premium” domains also be free, or would you charge for them like you do with premium names?

Piatti: All our premium domains will cost around $5/year and will not be free. There are around 200,000 premium domains planned.

DI: Do you anticipate selling .free domains via registrars like Go Daddy and eNom, or would you expect to sell direct to the end user?

Piatti: Both. In our business plan we have the ICANN accredited registrars as distribution channels listed but we will also distribute those .free domain names directly over our own website.

DI: Would there be a “landrush” period? Would you auction premium names or would it be first-come-first-served?

Piatti: The launch will be very similar to .co and .me with everything it takes to make .free a highly successful gTLD.

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Comments (16)

  1. Michele says:

    Their plans to distribute directly are going to be completely scuppered if VI pans out the way it is going at the moment

  2. […] To read this Domain Incite interview with dotFree chief executive Dominique Piatti in full, see: […]

  3. […] Руководитель компании Доминик Пьятти в своем интервью сообщает, что один человек cможет зарегистрировать […]

  4. Kunal says:

    When are they planning to launch. Will it be sometime in 2010 or later?

  5. […] as I’ve previously reported, not all .free domains will be free, so there may yet be opportunities for the ICANN-accredited registrar market. Related posts […]

  6. […] as I’ve previously reported, not all .free domains will be free, so there may yet be opportunities for the ICANN-accredited registrar […]

  7. Doyle Hargraves says:

    Now if they can only get scroogle to index them. A free domain that is not listed is like a mushroom.

  8. […] like this has been around for a while: dotFree’s “free” domain names explained | DomainIncite – Domain Name News & Op… It may not be a scam, but you'll probably have to pay something for them eventually. Active […]

  9. laura says:

    thank you for the very comprehensive Interview. i had the Chance to meet Dominique Piatti myself and i must say He is One of the brightest minds around these days in the European startup internet Community. .free Rocks!

  10. […] company plans to monetize .free by charging for 200,000 premium names and imposing an annual upgrade fee on registrants with more than one non-premium […]

  11. […] company plans to monetize .free by charging for 200,000 premium names and imposing an annual upgrade fee on registrants with more than one non-premium […]

  12. I think the premium domain names costing around $5 is still a great idea, there will be be some excellent bargains to be had!

  13. I do not drop a leave a response, however I read a few of
    the responses here dotFree

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