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.CO publishes domain seizure policy

Kevin Murphy, December 1, 2010, Domain Registries

.CO Internet reserves the right to shut down your .co domain name if you’re being naughty.

That’s pretty much what the company has said today with the announcement of its Rapid Domain Compliance Process.

the Rapid Domain Compliance Process gives the .CO Registry the ability to quickly lock, cancel, transfer or take ownership of any .CO domain name, either temporarily or permanently, if the domain name is being used in a manner that appears to threaten the stability, integrity or security of the .CO Registry, or any of its registrar partners – and/or that may put the safety and security of any registrant or user at risk.

While the company has not published full details of how the system works, it seems to be based on security monitoring carried out by Neustar, the registry’s back-end provider, rather than a complaints-driven procedure.

Verboten activities include, as you might expect given .co’s vulnerability to typos, phishing, as well as distributing malware and child pornography.

What’s surprising about this is that .CO Internet is being “proactive” about shutting down sites, rather than waiting to receive complaints to its abuse@ address.

While the announcement is undoubtedly good for the registry’s corporate responsibility image, it also has the potential to backfire horribly if mistakes are made.

Initiatives to block web sites considered security risks almost always lead to false positives.

Even when genuinely criminal sites are taken down, it can lead to loud (if spurious) claims of “censorship”, as we discovered this week with the .com seizures in the US – and they had a court order.

.CO Internet’s policy does not explicitly place piracy or selling counterfeit goods on its naughty list, but it doesn’t rule them out either.

Not to be too cynical, but I give it six months before the first “seized” domain owner cries foul.

Go Daddy’s .co promo is a test

Kevin Murphy, November 14, 2010, Domain Registries

Go Daddy is was “testing” the .co top-level domain as its default extension, .CO Internet has revealed.

It’s been widely reported over the weekend that .co is now the first TLD in the drop-down menu on Go Daddy’s front page, but it looks like the news might not be as shocking as originally thought.

.CO Internet chief executive Juan Diego Calle has just blogged:

The GoDaddy test is exciting. Permanent? Not yet. While we have a great and expanding relationship with GoDaddy, we do not expect .CO to remain as the default TLD on a permanent basis. In fact this is only a test to measure conversions, customer feedback, and much more.

Still, onwards and upwards. It’s certainly good news for the marketing of the Colombian TLD.

Personally, I’d be interested not only in data on conversions but also on refunds. There’s bound to be the odd customer who blindly registers a nice-looking domain thinking it’s a .com, right?

UPDATE: Go Daddy is now showing me (and others) .com as the default TLD once more. I guess the data is in.

What does the Overstock commercial mean for .co?

Kevin Murphy, November 5, 2010, Domain Registries

Judging by the number of exclamation marks being deployed over on the .CO Internet blog today, it’s a fairly safe bet that the company is rather happy with Overstock.com’s latest TV commercial.

It’s the first high-profile commercial to feature a .co domain, in this case o.co, which could go some way to raise the newly relaunched TLD’s profile in the US.

While it’s a nice first step for .CO, I wouldn’t say its TLD has necessarily “arrived” yet, on the basis of this ad, for a few reasons.

First, what’s this “shortcut” business?

Overstock.com commercial

Should this be troubling?

The biggest marketing coups .CO has inked to date have been for x.co and t.co, URL shorteners offered by Go Daddy and Twitter respectively. Now, Overstock is using its o.co as a “shortcut”, which bounces visitors to overstock.com.

True, Overstock’s .com domain is its brand, and that’s not about to change, but its use of o.co as a “shortcut” may perpetuate the short-term perception that .co’s primary purpose is short URLs.

On the upside, the company is actively encouraging customers to type a .co domain into their browsers.

Getting this “type-in awareness” is something I know that .CO Internet is looking to foster, something that the Twitter deal does not necessarily bring to the table.

It’s also encouraging that Overstock feels comfortable using a .co domain where it does not own the equivalent .com. That said, nobody does. Most single-letter .com domains are still reserved.

While this may be a branding risk for Overstock, could it actually be helpful for .CO, training fat-fingered users the difference between .com and .co domains? It seems possible.

It’s interesting to note that Overstock is using “www.” for its .co, but not for its .com, presumably in order to train viewers that “this is a URL”, much the same as .com domains were once uniformly advertised with the www prefix.

A reliable sign that .co has “arrived” would be when an advertiser feels happy to drop the www.

.SO Registry copies .co launch policies

Kevin Murphy, September 20, 2010, Domain Registries

Somalia’s .SO Registry, which hopes to mimic a little of the success of .co when it starts accepting registrations in November, has adopted virtually identical launch policies.

The registry’s policy document (pdf), which appeared on its web site last week, does in fact appear to copy large chunks of text wholesale from .CO Internet’s equivalent paper (pdf).

(UPDATE: I’ve reason to believe this is because both documents share an author/editor)

For this reason, you can pretty much expect the same policies regarding the sunrise, landrush and general availability phases of the launch, which kicks off November 1.

It also means that .so domain names will be subject to the UDRP. The registry has evidently partnered with WIPO to administer these proceedings.

There are some differences between .co and .so, however.

Notably, .SO Registry has added a policy of allowing sunrise registrations for trademark typos, provided that the typo under another TLD has been won at UDRP or in court.

This basically appears to open the doors for any company that has won a .com domain in a UDRP case to register the equivalent .so, no matter how lunatic the UDRP decision was.

This is how the document describes the exception to the trademarks-only rule:

the Domain Name must be identical to a domain name which has been recovered by the Applicant or its authorized licensee in the context of a court, UDRP or other alternative dispute resolution procedure relating to that domain name in another top-level domain.

It’s followed by a comment, one of several apparently made by one of the document’s editors, that probably shouldn’t have been published on a public web site:

Comment Bart: we need to look at the allocation model here (rather hypothetical, but you never know): will they also go into auction if there are two applicants for the same domain name: one having the identical mark, and the other having the variant?)

Other differences include the fact that, unlike their Columbian counterparts, Somalians do not appear to get any special privileges, such as grandfathering or a priority sunrise phase.

There also does not to be a provision for a Specially Protected Marks list like the one .CO Internet used.

The registry’s policies will be governed by the laws of Japan, rather than Somalia (which, let’s face it, doesn’t have much in the way of a functional legal infrastructure).

.SO’s back-end is being handled by GMO Registry, the Japanese company that plans to apply for .shop and is working with Canon on its proposed .canon application.

I’ve previously reported on the roll-out time-line and pricing for the .so domain, here.

.CO fastest-growing new TLD in years

Kevin Murphy, September 15, 2010, Domain Registries

.CO Internet today announced that it has taken over 500,000 .co domain name registrations in the less than two months since the names went into general availability.

By my reckoning, that makes .co the fastest-growing new TLD launch since .eu, back in 2006. EurID managed to take 1,691,069 .eu registrations in its first month of availability, a hard act to follow.

But .co easily beats .mobi, which took about eight months to reach the 500,000 registrations landmark after it launched in September 2005.

Fellow 2005-round launch DotAsia never (or has yet to) hit the 500k mark. It peaked at 245,196 in March 2009 and has been on the slide ever since, according to HosterStats.com.

If you go back as far as the 2000 round, you’ll find Afilias’ .info TLD took almost three months to hit 500,000 names. Three months after that, it had added another quarter-million.

But it only took Neustar (then Neulevel) a measly 30 days to pass the same milestone with .biz. Ten years on, it has over two million names on its books.

Muslim.co auction won by a Christian ministry?

Kevin Murphy, September 13, 2010, Domain Sales

Whois data for the domain muslim.co, which recently sold for $2,650 during the .co landrush auction, suggests it was won by a US-based Christian ministry.

The organization listed as the registrant and administrative contact is Theandric Ministry, the address a postbox at a strip-mall in Reno, Nevada.

While Google sheds no light on this purported organization, the term “theandric” refers to the notion that Christ was both god and man, not a theory you’d expect the typical Muslim to promote.

The domain is currently pointing to Go Daddy’s default parking page. I’ll be interested to see what content, if any, it eventually contains. The equivalent .com domain is also parked.

(UPDATE: the registrant tells me he’s not a ministry and that the Whois data is out of date. He plans to resell or develop the domain.)

The alternate English spelling, moslem.co, appears to have been registered on the first day of .co general availability by a Canadian with a Muslim-sounding name.

Islam.co is on .CO Internet’s reserved list, with the Whois suggesting it is considered a “premium” domain to be auctioned at a later date. Christian.co is also on this list.

That’s not the case for catholic.co and christianity.co, however. Those domains sold for $3,700 and $725 respectively during the landrush auctions.

Hindu.co, hinduism.co, buddhist.co and buddhism.co all appear to have been registered on or around July 20, the first day of general availability.

The three main English spellings of the name of the prophet Mohammed are registered to Dubai or Saudi-based individuals.

Jesus.co is on the premium list. Christ.co appears to have been won at auction last week, but the registry has not yet disclosed the sale price.

dotFree to allow pre-registrations October 1

Kevin Murphy, September 8, 2010, Domain Registries

The dotFree Group, which plans to apply for the top-level domain .free, plans to start allowing pre-registrations from October 1, this year.

While .xxx has had an open pre-registration period for years, I believe .free is the first of the next round of new TLD applicants to offer a similar pre-launch phase.

It would be well over a year from now before .free would be able to actually start taking live registrations, assuming its application was even successful.

The Czech company has just relaunched its web site with a new look and new information. It appears to be closely modelled on the .CO Internet site, even copying big chunks of text in some cases.

It also includes a page targeting registrars, containing this text:

How much do I earn for every free registered .FREE domain?

We plan to pay each reseller $0.05 for every .FREE domain name which was referred to us. The definitive reseller commission is still under review.

Now there’s a way to get Go Daddy beating down your door.

It’s not much of an incentive, and it suggests that dotFree isn’t planning on targeting a traditional registrar channel, at least as far as the free .free domains go.

If you can make a recurring $10 mark-up (my estimate) on a .co domain, or a one-off $0.05 on a .free, which TLD would get your store-front real estate?

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

.CO landrush auctions top $1 million

Kevin Murphy, September 8, 2010, Domain Sales

According to my calculations, the total value of announced .co landrush auction sales has now topped $1 million, helped in part by the recent sale of Aspen.co for $22,500.

I’m currently aware of over 250 reported sales from the official registry auction, which is only about 10% of the total number of contested landrush applications.

These domains fetched a total of $1,125,932. The average sales price is over $4,400.

Here’s a list of the 30-odd most recently reported sales.

aspen.co – $22,500
myhealth.co – $18,500
allergy.co – $16,286
jackpot.co – $12,500
locksmith.co – $10,000
zoom.co – $10,000
breckenridge.co – $8,499
mall.co – $8,350
see.co – $8,300
pens.co – $8,200
fairfield.co – $7,210
groceries.co – $6,600
assessment.co – $6,437
backup.co – $6,310
llc.co – $5,200
mylawyer.co – $5,100
apparel.co – $4,782
america.co – $4,050
continental.co – $3,972
mark.co – $3,900
cheapinsurance.co – $3,600
steamboat.co – $3,600
motivate.co – $3,500
rooms.co – $3,175
jewellery.co – $3,162
honey.co – $3,150
handbag.co – $3,100
cooks.co – $3,090
cola.co – $2,900
travels.co – $2,830
neem.co – $2,800
rafting.co – $2,600

.CO Internet does not disclose the sales of domains with “adult” themes, but its possible to infer from Whois data some of the domains that it probably auctioned.

.CO landrush auctions could top $10 million

Kevin Murphy, September 2, 2010, Domain Sales

The ongoing .co landrush auctions could finish up raising more than $10 million for .CO Internet, according to some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations.

My spreadsheet of reported landrush auction sales currently has 194 rows, based on registry reports and the odd unreported sale that Mike Berkens has been able to dig up.

These sales total $869,599, for an average of $4,482 per domain. Multiply that average by 2,523, which is the number of domains that were originally headed to auction, and you get to $11.3 million.

That may well be an unreliable estimate, of course, for any number of reasons.

For instance, .CO Internet is not reporting sales of porn-themed domains, or domains that may have UDRP issues. These domains could possibly have lower average sales prices.

The registry may also not be reporting other results, such as auctions that wound up with only one bidder for whatever reason, which could also drag down the average.

However, it seems that so far UDRP-risky domains or typos of popular generic domains (such as some of the typos of numerical .coms popular in Asia) have been among the big hitters.

AutoGlass.co, for example, appears to have slipped under the registry’s radar, and has been reported sold for $53,000. AutoGlass is a well-known brand here in the UK. I’ll be interested in seeing who bought it.

If these big prices hold true for other unreported sales of domains with possible trademark issues it could actually raise the average sales price.

Either way, it’s clearly been a successful auction so far.

T.co to be ubiquitous by Christmas

Kevin Murphy, September 2, 2010, Domain Registries

Twitter is planning on rolling out its t.co URL shortening service to all users by the end of the year, according to a company mailshot this week.

The company received the uber-short domain as part of .CO Internet’s Founders Program, probably the new registry’s biggest marketing coup to date.

Twitter intends to wrap all links inside shortened t.co URLs, and will check their intended destination pages against a list of known malware sites before users are forwarded.

Twitter told users in an email:

You will start seeing these links on certain accounts that have opted-in to the service; we expect to roll this out to all users by the end of the year. When this happens, all links shared on Twitter.com or third-party apps will be wrapped with a t.co URL.

For the branding of the .co namespace, this is obviously good news. Twitter handles something like 65 million tweets per day, many of which contain links. All will now carry the .co domain.