[DNS] Domain Name Allocation

[DNS] Domain Name Allocation

From: John Davidson <john.davidson§utoronto.ca>
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 2000 12:07:20 -0500
In this message I wanted to raise a few points.

First, it seems to me that the problem with the .au domain is that there is
no open second level .au domain that is not subject to the various
restrictions imposed on the others - .com.au, .asn.au, org.au etc.

The reason why the ccTLD .au was set up this way was presumably to provide
the internet user with some level of assurance that when they go to a
".edu.au" they really are going to a school or university; when they go to a
".org.au" site they really are going to a non-profit organisation (or
whatever exactly the criteria is); when they go to a ".gov.au" site they
really are going to a government web site. Similarly when the user goes to a
".com.au" site they can similarly be assured that they are going to a
commercial site that is either a registered Australian company or has a
registered business name from an Australian state (there are a few other
qualifying criteria). These restrictions make sense in regulating the .au
domain space for the benefit of the user. If an internet user experienced a
problem with a .com.au entity, that entity can always be traced to its
corporate or business name.

Given the historical evolution of the internet, I don't believe that such
restrictions were intended to be imposed such that a ccTLD (such as .au)
would effectively become closed. However, the various .au domain registrars
have imposed restrictions and these seem sensible and workable. The problem
that they ignored is that have effectively made the .au domain name space
closed. I see no policy reason why people shouldn't be able to register any
domain name they want (leaving aside the issue of obscene, geographic or
generic names). The issue is on what second level domain should these
domains be hosted.

I wonder whether there needs to be another 2LD that is open and that net
users would accept as "unverified". This 2LD would allow for the
registration of aussieexpatriots or coolahtelecentre etc etc. As far as the
whole coolahtelecentre debate progressed on this list, I don't see why if
you want coolahtelecentre as your domain, why don't you use that as your
business name?

It seems that the new top level domains that ICANN has recently accepted
will flow on to the .au domain such that there will be .biz.au, .name.au
etc. This may alleviate some of the existing problems, but I guess that
depends how these are administered ie. what rules will be applied. I can
still foresee some sitauations where people/organisations will be excluded
from registering.

Second, another significant issue is why, thus far, companies or businesses
have been restricted to registering only one domain name. I see no
justification for this and I note that the committee is re-considering this
restriction. There are countless companies that would benefit from several
domain names for marketing purposes or whatever. For example a company that
owns several trademarks and would like separate domains for each of those
TMs for marketing purposes or whatever. Such companies should be allowed to
register multiple .com.au domains using TM registration as their
justification for domain name registration. In the recent auDA report it
says as one of the cons of allowing TMs as a basis for registration "The
value of the .au domain space may be devalued and freedom of speech may be
reduced by allowing trade mark holders and applicants to hold domain name
licences across all open 2LDs." This makes no sense whatsoever to me.

Third, it seems that although the business name requirement for .com.au
registration has undoubtedly provided a huge boon in revenue for the state
business name authorities, this abuse of the business name system is
problematic. As we've seen from previous postings, the NSW Business Name Act
(all states Acts are basically the same, with a few exceptions) provides
penalties for registering a name and not trading. The domain registration
must be changed because the current system encourages entities to break the
law to get an online presence in the .au domain space.

Fourth, I believe that the cybersquatting issue is another that needs to be
resolved. Thus far, as I understand it companies who have had their domains
"taken" by cybersquatters have been forced to go to the courts arguing both
passing off and misleading and deceptive conduct under the Trade Practices
Act. This is because there is no dispute resolution procedure in place in
the .au domain space. Recourse to the courts is obviously very costly.
Therefore, I believe we should support the implementation of a Uniform
Dispute Resolution Procedure (UDRP) as exists in the .com, org etc domain
space. Despite a few anomalous decisions, this procedure has generally
proven to be a cost-effective and efficient method of resolving these
disputes.

I would be interested to know if there have been any cases in the Australian
courts yet where companies have sought to reclaim their domains. I had read
about the wine company cybersquatter a few weeks ago, but haven't heard
anything since. Presumably these Australian cybersquatters are registering
business names to secure these sites, and have no real intention of using
the name. Does anyone know whether plaintiffs have argued that the
cybersquatter is breaching the relevant state Business Names Act by not
trading under a registered name?

Finally, for what its worth - I think the gateway suggestion in the report
is a great idea. Altough this obviously depends on whether you consider
domains as a directory or phone number, I think it would be great for the
user to be able to key in realestate.com.au and go to a portal including all
Aussie real estate agents and associated sites (such as conveyancers or
lawyers etc).
Received on Sun Nov 26 2000 - 01:09:06 UTC

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