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Australia likely to BAN domaining

Kevin Murphy, March 27, 2019, 14:12:36 (UTC), Domain Registries

Domain investors will soon be no longer welcome in Australia’s .au, if proposed policy changes are approved.

Registrants who own more than 100 names and cannot prove they’re not a domainer will have their names deleted, under the recommendations of an Policy Review Panel appointed by Aussie ccTLD registry auDA this week.

The practice of vacuuming up domains for resale has long been against auDA policy, but the rules have been perceived as weak, easily worked around, and have been rarely enforced.

The current policy states: “A registrant may not register a domain name for the sole purpose of resale or transfer to another entity.”

But domainers have successfully argued that by parking their speculative domains, resale is no longer the “sole” purpose of the registration.

That loophole would be closed under the PRP’s recommendations. If approved by auDA, the rule would be changed to:

A registrant is prohibited from registering any open 2LD domain name for the primary purpose of (a) resale, (b) transfer to another entity, or (c) warehousing.

The PRP noted that it had received input “that registering domain names for resale increases the cost of doing business, increases the scarcity of names, and that registering domain names for the purpose of resale adds no real value to the internet name space.”

Registrants with 100-strong portfolios of “acronyms, dictionary words, or common phrases” would be singled out for review, as would registrants who are seen to engage in the resale of their domains.

Registrants who have “solicited the sale of the domain name or offered the domain name for sale to another for valuable consideration in excess of documented out-of-pocket costs” or who have sold more than six domains in six months, would also be presumed domainers.

Being found to be “warehousing”, domainers would no longer be eligible to their names.

They’d need to show “clear and convincing evidence” that the domain in question was not registered for resale in order to keep their names.

It’s a fairly comprehensive ban on domaining, in other words.

While there may well be workarounds — such as owning matching trademarks or selling shell companies rather than merely the domains — I can’t think of any that would wouldn’t be overly burdensome or costly in the vast majority of cases.

The PRP has also recommended the introduction of opening up .au to direct, second-level registrations, much like the UK, New Zealand and others have over the last several years.

Domainers also hate this, as it could dilute the value of their investments.

The PRP’s final report is now open for public comment until April 12.

After receiving these comments, auDA expects its board to provide a response April 15, which itself will be open for public comment until May 10.

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Comments (22)

  1. Michael D. says:

    Adjust model to domain leasing. No more transfers as a main business. If someone wants to buy, they’ll inquire. Next.

  2. Michael D. says:

    Could be. It’s good to monitor as other extensions, including .Com, may be next.

  3. Ethan says:

    If their logic were right, then “buying realty for resale increases the cost of doing business, increases the scarcity of realty, and that buying realty for the purpose of resale adds no real value to the property space.”

    They apparently don’t understand the nature of domaining.

    • Fenny says:

      You are right. Real Estate is kind of terrible too. But at least with real estate the improvements you make to the property come with the land. With the transfer of a domain, there is no virtual landscaping or architecture to come with it.

    • Robert says:

      They also say in that same policy, “A domain name must not resolve to a website that is PRIMARILY COMPUTER GENERATED.” Utter craziness happening in Australia!

  4. Garth says:

    The scarcity of prime names already exists with or without domainers in the mix.
    Registries earn good revenue from domainers that hold names that will never sell in the secondary market.

    • Robert Kaay says:

      It’s called MARKET FORCES. This basically comes down to one single person in Australia called Brett Fenton, who’s trying to retroactively confiscate domain names from over 64,000 legitimate business owners who own more than 10 domain names each, totalling 1 million Australian domain names in total. More info at Domainer.com.au

  5. Alexa says:

    Yet auDA approved and contracted registrars who also have a formal agreement with Afilias (the registry) will be allowed to continue to act as dropcatchers and:

    1. Try and secure expired and deleted domains as they are purged by the registry each day and then sell these to the highest bidder;

    2. If they are the successful dropcatcher, their wholesale cost is around $6 per domain (plus infrastructure costs); yet they keep any windfall they make.

    Many of us don’t have a problem with the status quo, but it is rather hypocritical to focus a faux rage on individual domain investors when dropcatchers are probably the biggest “domainers” out there. To quote policy above, they acquire domains on a daily basis for the “primary purpose” of resale and transfer to another entity.

  6. Robert says:

    The ridiculous PRP (Policy Review Panel) recommendations in regards to destroying domain monetisation and implementing “warehousing” rules will never happen. It basically comes down to one guy in Australia called Brett Fenton who is the CTO of a major Registrar here. The AU Domain Community is currently picking this nonsense apart over at Domainer . com . au

  7. Robert Kaay says:

    Hey ADMIN
    It is offensive that you have moderated my articles and I am speaking with Kevin about this on Twitter. PLEASE APPROVE my 3 previous comments before I publicly take this bias moderation further.

  8. Robert Kaay says:

    Great, good to be approved.

    Thanks for writing this article Kevin and making this information available to your audience.

    What The PRP have created with this new Final Policy Report to present to the auDA Board to vote on, is mostly sheer lunacy and needs to be DENIED by the auDA Board.

    As mentioned on Domainer.com.au – NO OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD would confiscate their domain names decades after the fact.

  9. Mike Carson says:

    I just don’t see how this does any good for anyone… I think it will harm .au and it will actually increase the cost of doing business and increase the scarcity of names.

    So if I want a .au domain then I have to try to contact someone who is not a domainer and ask to buy it from them instead of asking to buy it from a domainer, who has experience in selling and is ready to do so? And this will make things easier and better?

    This will just hinder the free market of domains, which will cause people to go to another TLD. I am sure they have good intentions, but I think they are misguided and should reconsider.

  10. Scott Long says:

    auDA is faced with policy hypocrisy;

    Anti-monetisation, ant-speculation, anti-warehousing, and anti-resale of domain names + forcing registrant to develop domain(s) into a real business w/website w/in 6 months or its deleted, these are extremist views, detrimental attitudes to any namespace, and yet, these extremist policy views held by the PRP contradict their recommendation of advocating for the liberalisation of direct registration which include everything the PRP oppose.

    Quote: (PRP)

    As stated in the Interim Report to the auDA Board, the Panel proposes that Direct Registration of .au would be an unbounded space.

    “There should be no allocation rules or restrictions for domain names registered at the second level. For example, the name match rule and the close and substantial connection rule should not apply to domain names registered at the second level. The space should be an open space for all Australians”

    • Robert says:

      “Anti-monetisation, ant-speculation, anti-warehousing, and anti-resale of domain names + forcing registrant to develop domain(s) into a real business w/website w/in 6 months or its deleted,”

      EXTREME and UNFAIR views!

      Agreed Scott.

      There is no way the auDA Board can vote to approve this. The fallout would be MASSIVE.

  11. Ron da Silva says:

    How often are drop-catchers grabbing domains of legitimate businesses only to hold the domain ransom back to the business for a very high extortion fee to transfer the domain back? That would be a very bad practice for the industry and distinct from speculative investing in domains that have inherent value. If addressing that kind of bad practice is the desired outcome, then the motivation is fair.. but this degree of implementation is very extreme. Perhaps there needs to be something sensible proposed to deal with the extortion use case rather than derailing the domainer industry as a whole?

  12. Robert says:

    “How often are drop-catchers grabbing domains of legitimate businesses only to hold the domain ransom back to the business for a very high extortion fee”

    This simply doesn’t and can not happen in the Australian domain name space. Mute point.

    Maybe it happens in the .com space though?

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