Friday, February 4, 2011

Another advantage of owning a .NZ domain name

Interesting piece of chatter on the Internet NZ mail list today. Apparently the US government has seized a Spanish owned .ORG domain name, despite the Spanish courts having ruled that what the company owning the name is doing is perfectly legal under Spanish law.

Long time readers of this and my other blogs will recall that I have long advocated owning the domain name with the extension most appropriate for your target market. Back in 2008 in Branding on the Internet I said you should have for Britain, for Australia, .com for the USA and, of course, for New Zealand, and I still stand by that advice. This judicial theft doesn't affect the logic of having the appropriate name for your target market, but does strengthen the message in those cases where you don't have a particular need for any given top level domain name. The Spanish company in question seem to have their name tied up in a number of registries and have just switched to another one.

There is the issue of jurisdiction. If you are in New Zealand you are subject to the jurisdiction of the New Zealand law and New Zealand courts. If you carry out business in Singapore you are (at least in part) covered by the laws of Singapore and if you carry out business in the USA their courts may have jurisdiction. Does registering a domain name in a country mean you are carrying out business in that country? Unfortunately there isn't a supranational authority that tells countries what the jurisdiction of their courts is, each country makes its own rules. It has recently been reported that Zhen Xiao will be tried by a Chinese court for the murder he is accused of committing in New Zealand. A foreign court deciding that it has jurisdiction in a civil case involving an overseas resident isn't much of a leap, and even easier if that person does do business in their country. If you have any assets in the country where that court is based you can expect to either lose them or have a long slow legal process to retrieve them that will cost more than the value of the assets. To my mind this is another good reason for registering your important working domain names in your home country.

To clarift the situation with regard to .NZ domain names Debbie Monahan, The Domain Name Commissioner for .nz has written a guest blog entry .nz right choice for Kiwis on the Internet NZ blog.

In this she spells out some of the legal advantages of using a .nz domain name, including
"Registrants also have a policy framework that protects Registrants rights and ensures that organisations like the US Homeland Security can’t just come in and seize a .nz name."
and a reminder about the rules in New Zealand for losing a .nz domain name

"There are really only three ways to have your .nz registration affected:

  • You’ve breached the .nz policies by having incorrect registration details and not correcting them when requested. After notice, your domain name may be cancelled; or
  • A complaint has been laid under the .nz Dispute Resolution Service and you have either come to an agreement through mediation or lost the dispute when its been referred to an Expert; or
  • Your domain name has been the subject of a court hearing and a court order has been made specifying a particular action to be taken against that particular domain name.

"The Domain Name Commission will ensure appropriate court orders are enforced but will not take a .nz domain name out of the DNS without that clear direction from the courts."
A pretty clear policy statement.

So bottom line: Register your domains in the right registry for your market, but if it doesn't matter to you which country code you register, register in either your own country (assuming normal rule of law applies there) or register in a safe nation such as New Zealand.


AhmedF said...

Wait, where is this mailing list?

Bruce Clement said...

Hi Ahmed,

It's a members only list described at

The cheapest membership of Internet NZ costs NZ$21.00 per annum including GST (about the same as the cheapest retail .nz domain name registration), and gives you input into the policies that Internet NZ proposes to government.

In my opinion if you are interested in the Internet in NZ, this is good value for money.



AhmedF said...

Thanks Bruce - need to make sure my holdings aren't exploited :)