Domain investors will soon be no longer welcome in Australia’s .au, if proposed policy changes are approved.
Registrants who own more than 100 names and cannot prove they’re not a domainer will have their names deleted, under the recommendations of an Policy Review Panel appointed by Aussie ccTLD registry auDA this week.
The practice of vacuuming up domains for resale has long been against auDA policy, but the rules have been perceived as weak, easily worked around, and have been rarely enforced.
The current policy states: “A registrant may not register a domain name for the sole purpose of resale or transfer to another entity.”
But domainers have successfully argued that by parking their speculative domains, resale is no longer the “sole” purpose of the registration.
That loophole would be closed under the PRP’s recommendations. If approved by auDA, the rule would be changed to:
A registrant is prohibited from registering any open 2LD domain name for the primary purpose of (a) resale, (b) transfer to another entity, or (c) warehousing.
The PRP noted that it had received input “that registering domain names for resale increases the cost of doing business, increases the scarcity of names, and that registering domain names for the purpose of resale adds no real value to the internet name space.”
Registrants with 100-strong portfolios of “acronyms, dictionary words, or common phrases” would be singled out for review, as would registrants who are seen to engage in the resale of their domains.
Registrants who have “solicited the sale of the domain name or offered the domain name for sale to another for valuable consideration in excess of documented out-of-pocket costs” or who have sold more than six domains in six months, would also be presumed domainers.
Being found to be “warehousing”, domainers would no longer be eligible to their names.
They’d need to show “clear and convincing evidence” that the domain in question was not registered for resale in order to keep their names.
It’s a fairly comprehensive ban on domaining, in other words.
While there may well be workarounds — such as owning matching trademarks or selling shell companies rather than merely the domains — I can’t think of any that would wouldn’t be overly burdensome or costly in the vast majority of cases.
The PRP has also recommended the introduction of opening up .au to direct, second-level registrations, much like the UK, New Zealand and others have over the last several years.
Domainers also hate this, as it could dilute the value of their investments.
The PRP’s final report is now open for public comment until April 12.
After receiving these comments, auDA expects its board to provide a response April 15, which itself will be open for public comment until May 10.