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The Lowdown

March 2006 Archive

Here's the The Lowdown from DNJournal.com! Updated daily to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry!

Compiled by Ray Hackney (DN Journal Special Correspondent)
& Ron Jackson (Editor/Publisher)


"Domain tasting" has drawn the ire of PIR (the Public Interest Registry), the entity that operates the .org extension. Domain tasting is the widespread practice among certain registrars in which they register virtually all deleting domains, keep any that have existing traffic that can be monetized, then cancel all of the others before the 5-day grace period expires so they don't have to pay the central registry for them. In a letter to ICANN, PIR President & CEO Edward G. Viltz said he is concerned about this practice threatening the stability and security of the Internet. He called on ICANN to undertake a thorough study of domain tasting. Viltz also said that current domain registrants, most of whom  are unaware of the practice, should be informed that their domains may have monetary value that others can exploit if the domains are allowed to expire. 


A highly focused conference for owners of geographic domains will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago June 2 and 3. The 2006 GeoDomain Expo will be presented by Associated Cities, operators of a network that includes dozens of premier city sites like NewYorkCity.com, LosAngeles.com and Chicago.com. The registration fee is $395 for Associated Cities members and $595 for non-members. Rooms at the Hyatt can be booked for $199 a night (using the conference reservation code) until May 5.


If you have ever wondered how some of those domain country codes from small nations wound up being operated by private businessmen in other countries, an excellent article by Christopher Rhoads in the Wall Street Journal March 29 provides some fascinating insight. Rhoads details how American entrepreneur Bill Semich wound up operating the .nu extension assigned to the tiny Pacific Ocean island nation of Niue (population 1,200). The article was originally available only in the WSJ's print edition and on their subscription website. However, other newspapers around the world have now picked up the article so you can read it at no charge.


Unless you have been living in a cave you have heard about British college student Alex Tew's success with his MillionDollarHomePage.com. Of course whenever someone makes money with a new idea it inspires legions of others to try the same thing. We would normally ignore the copycats, but Global Publications Ltd. caught our attention today (March 30) when the UK company launched a new site coupling the pixel sales concept with a premium domain name - commerce.co.uk. The domain had been used for Global's corporate website for the past ten years but Managing Director Barry Garner thinks retooling the site as an online business directory will give the name a new lease on life. Ad space costs 1 per pixel (with a minimum order of 100 pixels) and Global says ads purchased will remain online for at least 5 years. 


If you wonder what is fueling the current boom in the domain market, just look at the ongoing migration of advertising dollars to the web. The UK's Internet Advertising Bureau said spending on internet advertising has jumped more than 65% in Great Britain since last year. The IAB now expects online advertising will surpass print advertising within two years! IAB chief Guy Phillipson said "These figures surpassed all of our initial expectations."


Roll-out plans for the new .mobi extension (restricted to mobile devices and sites providing services for them) have been posted at the dotmobi website. Initial registrations will begin May 22 with a one-week industry sunrise period in which companies that are members of mobile industry organizations can register their trademarked domains. That will be followed by a 70-day trademark sunrise period starting June 12 that will be open to all other trademark holders. General registration for everyone else begins August 28 with a two-week land rush when the most desirable .mobi domains may be registered at a premium price. After the land rush all remaining domains will be available indefinitely at standard registration prices.


The Australian Domain Authority (auDA.org) is about to make an important decision on how that country's com.au country code can be used and you can have a say in the outcome (regardless of whether you are Australian or not). The extension has been heavily restricted in the past, with registrations limited to those who use the domains for approved business purposes. The issue now is whether monetizing domains via PPC (pay per click) advertising is a legitimate business purpose. In October 2005 auDA  warned those who had registered multiple .com.au domains for PPC purposes that their names could be deleted and in fact that has happened to some domain owners. In the face of challenges from those who lost domains, auDA has decided to solicit public comment to determine whether their rules should be relaxed to allow PPC use. You can post your opinion and read the comments others have left on this page at auda.org.


GoDaddy.com Chairman and Founder Bob Parsons took a shot at the pending ICANN-Verisign .com contract agreement in the company's March newsletter. In an introductory note, Parsons said "Members of Congress have already expressed concerns (Editor's Note: see next item), and we at Go Daddy will be doing all we can to convince Congress, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce that it is anti-competitive and simply a bad deal for the industry and registrants everywhere. Many of you have contacted us, asking how you can voice your opinion, and just as importantly, what exactly you should say. Take time now and email your elected officials. This link provides an example of what you can put in that message. Of course, the words you choose are your decision, but I urge you to let your voice be heard."


Florida Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler has released a letter calling on the House Judiciary Committee to formally investigate the controversial .com settlement agreement between ICANN and Verisign. Wexler believes the committee needs to act before the Department of Commerce (which is responsible for overseeing ICANN) simply rubber stamps a deal that many believe is anti-business, anti-consumer and anti-competitive. Wexler said I am deeply concerned that the Department of Commerce is going to approve the assignment of control of the largest database on the Internet - the registry of .com domains - without adequate time for review, public comment or government scrutiny required of a deal of this importance to global commerce and security."


The new .travel extension that went live in January 2006 got a boost March 21 when travel site developer Intellistrand LLC announced the purchase of 127 .travel domains from Tralliance Corporation, the New York-based company that serves as the  registry for all .travel domain names. The purchase includes such domains as houston.travel, vegashotels.travel, parishotels.travel and londonhotels.travel. Nine sites are already live including dallas.travel, tampabay.travel and chicagohotels.travel. Intellistrand says the other sites are in development and will all be launched by July 2006.


The European Union's new .EU extension opens for public registration April 7 (for residents and companies operating in EU countries). In their March newsletter, Sedo.com predicted strong demand for the new TLD, noting that 320,000 registration applications have already been placed during the Sunrise period for trademark holders. Sedo added that many expect .eu to log more than 1 million registrations in its first year which would be a first for a new extension.


The proposed .xxx extension that is currently in limbo got a couple of new backers when U.S. Senators Mike Pryor (Arkansas) and Max Baucus (Montana) introduced a new bill March 17 supporting creation of the domain. The two Democrats want the Department of Commerce (who has jurisdiction over ICANN) to push for adoption of the extension as a new home for all adult content. They want to see x-rated material excluded from existing extensions like .com, .net and .org. Pryor and Baucus say if adult content is limited to a .xxx extension parents can use filtering software to prevent their kids from seeing it. (Editor's Update: Under pressure from governments around the world, ICANN shelved further consideration of .xxx at their March meeting in New Zealand, dimming the prospects for .xxx being activated any time soon, if ever).


The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), administrators of Canada's .ca country code, threw a haymaker at ICANN in an open letter released March 17. CIRA accused ICANN of abandoning its core values and said ICANN's Feb. 28 approval of their controversial .com contract agreement with Verisign is the latest evidence of this. In the letter, CIRA said that until ICANN considers their concerns they are suspending their voluntary contribution of funds to ICANN (with those contributions held in trust), suspending consideration of any accountability framework, declining to host or sponsor any ICANN event and will cease chairing the ccNSO's IANA Working Group.


The parent company of BuyDomains.com has purchased Florida-based PPC provider GoldKey.com. A joint announcement from the two companies issued March 17 said "we are pleased to announce that GoldKey has been acquired by Domain Services, LLC (a division of YesDirect, Inc.). YesDirect also owns and operates BuyDomains.com, Seeq and the YesDirect Network." The release added "We expect to significantly enhance domain parking performance, experience and overall value. In the coming weeks, look forward to new enhancements, features and opportunities to enjoy the benefits of the new Goldkey."


A recent survey by the statistics company IPWalk.com revealed 40-50% jumps in domain registration rates in Russia, Canada and Luxembourg over the last 9 months of 2005. Growth in the U.S. was also robust at 30%. Surprisingly two countries known for strong IT sectors, Taiwan and India, showed almost no domain registration growth at all. The full article is here.


Mainstream media's recent infatuation with domain names shows no signs of slowing down. The Wall Street Journal published an article on drop catching in their print edition Feb. 22 (also available online but only to WSJ subscribers) and Canada's Ottawa Citizen just published another piece on the same topic March 16. The latter article by Peter Hum is being picked up by newspapers throughout Canada and has been posted on the Vancouver Sun's website.


Giant German corporation Deutsche Post (owners of the shipping company DHL), had their hands slapped by a WIPO panel March 1 when their attempt to take the generic domain Post.com away from NJDomains failed. The panel stopped just short of labeling the Deutsche Post filing a reverse hijacking attempt, but did say "the Panel is firmly of the view that parties should take great care before making allegations of the type made in this case by the Complainant. The very serious allegations against the Respondent were not justified." The Panel emphasized that "a complainant should not commence UDRP proceedings unless believing on reasonable grounds that the Complaint is justified and that the allegations made against the respondent are legitimate and based on fact." Attorney Ari Goldberger handled the successful defense of NJDomain's right to Post.com.

If you've been out of the loop lately, catch up in the Lowdown Archive!

We need your help to keep giving domainers The Lowdown, so please email [email protected] with any interesting information you might have. If possible, include the source of your information so we can check it out (for example a URL if you read it in a forum or on a site elsewhere). 

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