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Nominet wants to kill off the .uk drop-catching market

Kevin Murphy, July 16, 2020, 09:46:25 (UTC), Domain Registries

Nominet has revealed a sweeping set of policy proposals that would totally revamp how expired domains are deleted and could essentially kill off drop-catching in the .uk domains market.

The company is thinking about auctioning off expired domains at the registry level, or charging drop-catchers up to £6,000 ($7,500) a year to carry on more or less as normal.

Currently, expired .uk domains are deleted at an undisclosed time each day, leading drop-catch registrars to spam the registry back-end with availability checks on the best names.

Upon finding a desired domain has dropped, they then attempt to register it immediately by spamming EPP create commands.

About 0.7% of the domains deleted each year, about 12,000 of the 1.76 million names dropped in 2018, are re-registered within a second of release, Nominet says.

The system as it stands bothers the registry due to the technical load it creates and the fact that it means the most desirable names are snapped up by small number of domainers for resale.

It also does not like the fact the current system encourages collusion between Nominet members and the creation of dummy memberships by drop-catchers.

So it’s proposing two main options for rejiggering the economics.

The first and apparently preferred solution would be for Nominet to auction off the names, rather than deleting them. It would look a lot like auctions often seen in newly launching TLDs.

The second option is to charge drop-catchers extra fees for a greater number of simultaneous EPP connections.

Currently, each registrar gets six. Under the proposal, called “Economically controlled access to expiring domains”, they’d be able to buy additional batches of six for £600 a pop, up to a maximum of 10 batches or £6,000.

Regardless of which option is chosen, Nominet also wants to make drop times more predictable, by publishing a daily drop-list available to all.

Nominet knows there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to be accused of profiteering, and says in the paper:

If either of the options proposed are implemented, we envisage that any profits derived from the auction or economically controlled access models will be directed towards public benefit activity and/or ringfenced to provide specific services to registrars e.g. a training fund. However, we are also seeking ideas on how any profits would be best spent to benefit the .UK namespace in this consultation.

The consultation can be found here. Interested parties have until August 14 to submit comments.

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Comments (5)

  1. Steve says:

    A welcome levelling of the playing field for those who wish obtain domain names imo. No doubt some will find a way to game whatever the solution is.

  2. Mark Thorpe says:

    There will be no drop-catching market 5-10 years from now.

  3. Nominet actually already profits from the drop catchers aside from the re-registrations. If I remember correctly they currently charge members/registrars for higher amounts of availability lookups, which is currently needed to determine the drop times. But maybe that is not enough.

  4. Snoopy says:

    This is about Nominet making more money, has nothing to do with users and won’t level anything.

    Nominet will be out to extract as much money as possible once again.

  5. Josh Eisenhower says:

    I would rather domains go to auction for everybody to bid on than go to a certain few greedy individuals who are making fortunes by holding the names to ransom.

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