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European ccTLDs liberalize policies

Kevin Murphy, November 30, 2011, Domain Registries

Afnic, the .fr registry, will adopt new policies next week enabling organizations from outside of France to register domain names for the first time.

Under the rule change, entities in European Union countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, will qualify for .fr names.

The new policy (pdf), which comes into effect December 6, also applies to .re, the ccTLD for the French terrirtory Réunion, which Afnic also manages.

The registry is also discontinuing a handful of second-level domains which were previously available for third-level registration by the public.

Existing domains in,,,, and will continue to function, but Afnic will no longer accept new registrations in these extensions.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Norwegian registry Norid liberalized its registration policies this morning, raising its ownership cap from 20 to 100 domain names per registrant.

Evidently anticipating a possible increase in cybersquatting disputes as a result, Norid has said it has also instituted a loser pays model for its dispute resolution process.

Gaddafi ousted from Libya’s Whois

Kevin Murphy, November 16, 2011, Domain Registries

Libya has changed the Whois records for the .ly top-level domain to remove references to the usurped Gaddafi regime.

While ownership of .ly has not changed in the IANA records — it’s still delegated to the national General Post and Telecommunication Company — the name of the country has.

Until late last month, it was “Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”, a reference to the unique political philosophy of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who took over the country in 1977.

It’s now just “Libya”.

The change was made October 27, just seven days after Gaddafi was captured and killed by rebels in Sirte.

(Hat tip: @ianawhois)

Two new TLDs to be approved next week

Kevin Murphy, October 6, 2011, Domain Registries

ICANN is set to approve two new country-code top-level domains next week – .cw and .sx – for the year-old nations of Curacao and Sint Maarten.

The two countries were created when the Netherlands Antilles split last October.

The ICANN board of directors plans to rubber-stamp the delegations of both ccTLDs next Tuesday, according to the consent agenda for its meeting.

It also plans to vote on the “transition” arrangements for the Netherlands Antilles’ .an, which is now a ccTLD without a country.

The .an space won’t be the first TLD to be deprecated. Yugoslavia’s .yu disappeared in March last year, for example, a few years after Serbia and Montenegro acquired their own ccTLDs.

The recipient of .sx is expected to be SX Registry, a joint venture of Luxembourg registry startup OpenRegistry and Canadian registrar MediaFusion.

OpenRegistry CEO Jean-Christophe Vignes said that if ICANN votes for the delegation the company will start talks with potential registrar partners at the ICANN Dakar meeting later this month.

MediaFusion and Vignes’ alma mater EuroDNS have already been approved to act as .sx registrars.

The company plans to use CHIP, the ClearingHouse for Intellectual Property, for its sunrise period.

Anyone with a .an registration predating December 2010 will be able to request the equivalent .sx name under a grandfathering program the company plans to launch.

It will be the first TLD that OpenRegistry has provided the back-end infrastructure for.

Some IDNs fly, while some fail

Kevin Murphy, August 14, 2011, Domain Registries

Russia may have witnessed a domain name boom this year with the launch of .РФ last November, but other internationalized domain names are proving far from popular.

Jordan’s الاردن. country-code top-level domain has taken only about 150 registrations since its launch last October, according to a report in the Jordan Times.

The poor showing has been attributed to both a lack of awareness and a lack of demand. The article quotes Mahmoud Al Kurdi, sales and marketing manager at regional presence provider Virtuport:

If a person does not even know how to type the address of a certain website in English letters, he or she can type in Arabic letters on Google and search for the website. I see no point in typing address in Arabic letters. It is not convenient.

The sentiments are echoed in the article by other local experts, while the registry, the National Information Technology Centre, said it is planning a marketing campaign to drum up interest.

There could be other reasons for slack adoption – Jordan’s IDNs costs $140 for the first two years and $35 per year thereafter. There are also strict rules governing who can register.

Meanwhile in Russia, .РФ had taken 855,751 registrations by June 30, according to the registry’s first-half 2011 report, following its scandal-tinged launch eight months earlier.

Russia is of course substantially larger than Jordan – which has a population smaller than that of London – with ten times as many internet users as Jordan has citizens.

It’s official: South Sudan to get .ss

Kevin Murphy, August 11, 2011, Domain Registrars

The new African nation of South Sudan has officially been given the two-letter country code SS, meaning it is likely just months away from getting the top-level domain .ss.

The SS string appeared on the International Standards Organization’s ISO 3166-1-alpha-2 code list this week, following a request by the government of the country.

The 3166 list is the standard by which ICANN judges a territory’s eligibility to be delegated a country-code top-level domain.

South Sudan does not yet appear on IANA’s list of ccTLDs, but it’s likely to be added soon.

The last three nations to form, following the breakup of the Netherlands Antilles last October, already have ccTLD records in the IANA database, although none have yet been officially delegated to a registry or added to the DNS root system.

The delegation of a new ccTLDs is usually a much more straightforward proposition than the redelegation of an existing ccTLD to a new manager, which can take many years.

South Sudan declared independence July 9 this year and was officially recognized by the United Nations five days later.

It’s one of the world’s poorest and unhealthiest nations: it is estimated that 11% of its children die before their fifth birthday and that 2% of mothers die in childbirth.

Getting a ccTLD is probably quite low on the nation’s list of priorities.

According to reports, the South Sudan government was well aware of the connection “SS” has to the Nazis in Europe when it asked for the string.

It’s pretty tenuous connection, and I doubt anyone reasonable would take offense, but the incoming registry may want to add a few well-chosen strings to its reserved list just in case.