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Paris.hilton? CentralNic pitches gTLDs at super-rich

Kevin Murphy, October 18, 2011, Domain Registries

Just when you thought you’d seen everything, CentralNic is angling for the wallets of the “ultra-wealthy” with its new pitch for .familyname top-level domains.

The alternative TLD registry today launched dotFamilyName, a companion to its dotBrandSolutions site designed to give “prominent families” an “online legacy” in the form of a new gTLD.

Think .hilton, .kennedy, .rockefeller.

If own a squadron of private jets, if you’re a card-carrying member of the Illuminati, if you have your own parking spot outside the Bilderberg Club, then CentralNic wants to hear from you.

The company is basically proposing to apply to ICANN for and manage a .familyname gTLD on behalf of the more-money-than-taste crowd for a start-up fee of about $500,000.

Here’s the pitch from the press release:

Your dotFamilyName TLD can be used in a variety of ways:

1) To create a network of private family websites – a discreet, centralized destination for use by family members containing classified content and images.

2) To create an authenticated source of family information for public consumption.

3) To establish a legacy for generations to come, ensuring that the bond between generations will be kept alive.

4) To ensure that you remain amongst a privileged few in owning a personalized TLD on the World Wide Web.

5) To maintain control over your official web presence, acting as a state of the art security system for your personal reputation.

6) To ensure that, among the families sharing your name, your family controls it.

A commenter on one of my articles for The Register recently joked that new gTLDs could create confusion between, the hotel, and paris.hilton, the heiress.

But it’s not April 1, so I guess this is for real.

ICANN has a ban on individuals applying for new gTLDs, but there’s no particular prohibition on personal-use extensions, as long as they have a corporate entity behind them.

Could it work?

It’s official: London to seek .london gTLD

Kevin Murphy, September 22, 2011, Domain Registries

The official promotional agency for the city of London has formally declared its interest in applying to ICANN for a .london generic top-level domain.

I reported the story for The Register yesterday, and the official press release was sent out this afternoon, but it appears that I was misinformed about the issuance of a Request for Proposals.

According to London & Partners, at the moment it is only analyzing the potential costs and benefits, as well as consulting with local stakeholders.

The agency said in its press release:

In addition to enhancing the promotion of the capital, London & Partners is investigating what opportunities the ownership of the gTLD licence could bring in terms of harnessing commercial revenue streams and new job creation, whilst ensuring value for money.

It’s been backed by the office of Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.

Two UK registries, Nominet and CentralNic, have already thrown their hats in the ring as likely bidders if and when an RFP is released.

Breaking: CentralNic regains control of

Kevin Murphy, August 2, 2011, Domain Registries

CentralNic has taken back control of, which was seized without warning by the company’s founder at the weekend.

The domain now resolves to CentralNic’s site, and the company has posted the following message:

The CentralNic service for domains ending in has been fully restored. We apologize for any inconvenience – the interruption was effected without any warning by a third party, and was therefore out of our control.

The pseudo-TLD service, which serves primarily UK small businesses that couldn’t get the they wanted, went down on Saturday, leaving registrants confused and angry.

I’ve reached out to CentralNic for comment and will update when I have more information.

Fight over claims thousands of victims

Thousands of companies that use the pseudo-top-level-domain have gone offline due to a legal fight between the registry and its founder.

CentralNIC sells third-level domains as a “Great Britain” alternative to A Google search reveals a great many small businesses use the extension for their web sites.

They’re all out of luck today. Anybody attempting to access any domain is now welcomed by a placeholder page, which states:

You may be here because you have been sold a domain or email service using the domain that has ceased to work.

You can restore that service swiftly by registering with GB.COM Ltd.

GB.COM Ltd will not provide a service that you have paid others for, unless they have an arrangement with GB.COM Ltd.

If you have already paid for future service and it has ceased then you should contact your supplier. appears to be owned by Stephen Dyer, who founded CentralNIC in 2000, but left the company following a buyout several years ago.

“This interruption relates to a longstanding legal dispute regarding the domain name, dating back to when the current shareholders acquired the business in 2004,” CentralNIC said.

Historical Whois records show that the email address associated with switched from CentralNIC to a webmail account at some point in September that year.

It’s currently registered to, which appears to be a Dyer-owned domain.

CentralNIC evidently has been selling domains under an extension it was not in control of for the last seven years, and now whatever leasing agreement it had arranged has broken down.

The company said: “We are currently taking legal advice about this and will be taking urgent steps to restore the service, but we cannot achieve that instantly.”

Until a solution can be found, it recommends that affected registrants sign up with to (hopefully) quickly restore DNS service to their sites.

However, the new site is so painfully amateurish that some customers seem to have mistaken it for a phishing attack.

I have some additional advice – after your domain is resolving again, register a new domain in a proper TLD (.uk, .com) and redirect all your traffic to it until your users know where to find you.

Then cancel the domain. Ltd has already demonstrated pretty comprehensively that it doesn’t give a damn about your business, so I think you’ll agree it doesn’t deserve your money.

There are ways to go about a registry transition seamlessly, and this most certainly is not one of them.

Quite how hopes to match newly signed-up customers with the true previous registrants is not entirely clear – there’s potential for abuse unless it has full access to CentralNIC’s thick Whois.

Also worth pondering — where’s all the email to domains going?

While this is a commercial dispute, rather than a technical stability problem, it still Looks Bad for CentralNIC, which recently has been heavily marketing itself as a “.brand” back-end provider.

It shouldn’t harm the company’s ability to pass an ICANN technical evaluation, but it may give potential clients pause for thought.

Of the 20 pseudo-TLDs listed on CentralNIC’s site, at least three others –, and – appear to be registered in the names of third parties, according to Whois records.

There’s no reason to believe these domains are in any immediate danger, however. They don’t appear to have any connection to or Dyer.

CentralNIC said: “We can confirm, with absolute certainty, that no other CentralNic domain extensions are subject to any such disputes.”

That will come as little comfort to the thousands of small businesses that find themselves offline today.

One such customer has set up a LinkedIn group to discuss the situation, and Twitter traffic from customers seems to be increasing as British users wake up to the news.

UPDATE: It seems that Stephen Dyer has form.

He was also director of Snappy Designs Ltd, owner of the photo-hosting site, which went into liquidation earlier this year, leaving thousands of photographers stranded.

Amateur Photographer reported in March that potentially millions of images could have been lost due to the business’s failure.

The site currently says the images are safe. Users do not have access to them, however.

(spotted by @whois_search)

CentralNIC says .la business as usual

Kevin Murphy, April 12, 2011, Domain Registries

CentralNIC, which manages .la as a “city top-level domain” for Los Angeles, says recent moves to “reclaim” the domain for Laos will not affect its offerings.

As I blogged Friday, Laos has recruited Vietnamese experts to help LANIC, the delegated sponsor of .la, bring the registry back to the nation.

According to a press release from Vietnamese registrar Dot VN, LANIC wants to “retrieve and manage the Laotian country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) .LA”.

But UK-based CentralNIC, which currently manages the registry, seems to disagree with the extent of the transition. A company spokesperson provided this statement:

We saw this [Dot VN] press release and understand it relates to work in the Lao PDR with LANIC assisting them on their Lao IDN and the development of a server in Laos for the release of the second level domain extensions, such as,, – which are reserved specifically by LANIC to serve the Lao people.

LA Registry works under a mandate from LANIC to develop the .LA address outside the Lao PDR and will continue to do so.

The Dot VN press release does not refer to Laotian IDNs or third-level domains. Nor does any coverage I’ve found elsewhere. Dot VN did not respond to a request for comment.

According to this presentation (pdf), LANIC was planning “to move the ccTLD dot la primary server and registry data base to Lao PDR” as recently as last June.