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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Goodbye .co.nz, Hello .nz

The Domain name commission has published a consultation paper on their plan to open public registrations at the .nz level. The paper and some expanatory background are on this page at their site.

Consultation runs until the 27th of September (nearly 4 months).

According to the DNS site the proposals include (Slightly edited from the DNC site):
  1. Registration of .nz domain names could be at the second or third levels on an ongoing basis.
  2. Existing second level domains (such as .co.nz) will remain and continue to be supported.
  3. There will be no impact on the registration of any currently registered .nz domain names.
  4. Registrations at the second level will be on a "first come, first served" basis, except during the Sunrise Period and where there are currently multiple registrations of the same name in different second level domains.
  5. The Sunrise Period will be a designated window, where existing .nz domain name holders (registrants) can register their domain name/s at the second level if they are the only one that had that name at the third level before 9AM 30 May 2012.
  6. If two or more domain name holders had the same name at the third level, no-one will be able to register that name at the second level unless they obtain the consent of the other third level name holders. Alternatively, if all agree, it could become a second level domain instead.
  7. A temporary amendment to the Dispute Resolution Service Policy to cover sub-domains of generic domain names registered at the second level.
  8. Some names (e.g. com.nz, edu.nz) will be blocked from registration


It doesn't surprise me that they have done this. For several months DNCL's owner, InternetNZ, has been running scared of the possible effect of the proposed .Kiwi name on the profitability of the .nz business, and there were discussions about the "need" to do this back at the time of the member's consultations in February. The timing of the release 16 hours after the end of the .kiwi.nz consultation seems a little cynical and it would have been nice to have had this on the table at the time of making submissions on that but that's now water under the bridge.

I first read the proposal about 15 hours ago when it was published and have skimmed the associated documents. I fully intend making a submission at some point during the consultation process, but first I need to think through a number of issues

While it isn't uncommon for me to have a conflict between my own interests as the registrant of a fairly significant number of domain names and what I perceive as the public good, this time there seems to be an even wider divide.

I'm picking that it will be easier to interest international investors in .nz than in .co.nz making second level registrations far more valuable than third level domain names ever were. As a person with a large number of domains it seems that my personal best move is to strongly support the change then use the sunrise period to convert my .co.nz to .nz (mostly just dropping the .co.nz except for the ones that do well on type-in traffic already). I'm not too sure what to do about my developed sites, I might run both .co.nz and .nz for a while and see what happens or I may use 302 redirects to move traffic to where I'd rather have them.

On the other hand, I really believe it's a bad move for both New Zealand and for .NZ. While there will soon be a large number of new global top level domain names (gTLD), we have exactly one country top level level domain name (ccTLD) available to us. If we allow registration at the top level, doing this will mean we will never be able to create new 2lds to cover opportunities that arise.

We now know that .mobi flopped and I've just let my .mobi domain names expire, but imagine if .mobi had been a success. If there was a perceived need for a New Zealand oriented mobile device 2ld domain, we could have created a .mobi.nz 2ld as a service for Kiwis in the New Zealand space. Once we open the second level to registrations, if a future gTLD becomes a massive success we would no longer be able to create the .nz equivalent.

I've mentioned before that I'd like to see moderated 2nd level domains like .ltd.nz, .inc.nz etc.:
Moderated 2LD names could be useful if they are properly promoted.

Their big strength is that they go a long way to avoiding phishing attacks in the .nz namespace; when you go to a .govt.nz site, you know it is an official government site. If the banker's association could convince its members to play ball and promote it, you'd know when you went to a .bank.nz site that you were dealing with a registered bank.
I like the British .ltd.uk and wish we had moderated .inc.nz , .ltd.nz etc so there was a guarantee that you really were connecting to the organisation you wanted. What if when you registered a company, the companies office could also issue you with a .ltd.nz domain name? Rather than passively waiting for interested groups to propose new moderated second level domains, I'd like to see InternetNZ advocating the creation of 2LDs to suitable moderators
Again, something we'd lose the ability to do if we opened the 2ld level to registrations.

As I said above, I really need to think my position through and won't be one of the early submitters.

3 comments:

Linda E Cole said...

Hi Bruce,

With the Sunrise period will that mean domainers like us will be able to convert our .co.nz names to .nz without fear of competition.?

Will we have to pay you think for these new registrations?

What a minefield.

regards
Linda Cole

Bruce Clement said...

Hi Linda,

In some cases yes, in others no. It's worthy of a blog posting on its own. The consultation document has a detailed explanation of the proposed rules but in general if you had the domain before 30 May 2012 and nobody else had the same name in a different 2ld you can get the .nz.

My reading of the proposed rules is my access to clement.nz is safe but my access to weblinks.nz would likely be blocked by the fact that someone registered the .net.nz about a year ago despite my having owned the .co.nz for 6 years.

Remember this is all a consultation so rules could change.


And yes, I assume we will have to pay for the extra domain name :)

Bruce

Linda E Cole said...

I don't have an issue with .nz coming into play but like many domainers who have built up a portfolio my concern is with the issue of multiple registrations of the same name.

The consensus so far seems to be that consent from other name holders could solve the problem but in all reality I think this is not likely to turn out well.

I can see money changing hands and if name owners are happy with that then problem solved. On the other hand I have noted myself that one of my .co.nz domain names that I have been maintaining for many years will be an issue. The recent registration of the .org.nz of the same name by a large overseas investment company could see me losing the name as I do not have the funds to dispute it.

"Win some lose some I guess."

I for one have always believed in the spirit of competition as well as fair play and that the domain name game is similar to the world of real estate in that the best offer on the day secures the prime asset.

After much deliberation I genuinely feel that the person holding the .co.nz extension should have first dibs on the new .nz.

This would breath a sigh of relief into small companies worried that their name is going to be lost in the probable land rush and appease us domainers who have spent a small fortune over the years keeping our domains going.

Now I can hear the skeptics from here saying that I am looking after my own back yard. Believe it or not I am one of the lucky ones who has good names with zero or little competition so if it all comes to pass I will possibly do better than most.

My point is the domain name industry is a business and has made many people very wealthy on the international scene. This does not sit well with businesses trying to obtain a name but we live largely in a world of free enterprise where some will always do better than others.

Domainers are generally passionate about their business and like nothing better than to see their name taken by a New Zealand company and used on the net. Sure there are those that will try to get as much as they can for the domain but from what I have seen over the years and myself included there are not many wealthy (if any) domain name investors here In NZ.

Let the people who were astute enough to grab the .co.nz extension (which at this point is considered the top of the heap on the internet)take the .NZ and be done with it.

Leaving the conflict of who gets the name in multiple registrations is hardly fair and not very ethical. It leaves itself wide open to some "dirty tactics" being performed by those who will see it as an opportunity to jump on the domain name investment wagon. There is only so much people in positions of power can to prevent this from happening.

These are the thoughts of a small business in New Zealand who wants to see this situation sorted with fairness and dignity.

Yours Sincerely,
Linda Cole.
Mafiadomains.co.nz

This is a fantastic blog owned by a man who endeavours to keep domainers and businesses In New Zealand in the loop.

We should support people like Bruce who are passionate about this business and take the time out of a busy life to keep us all in touch with what is happening in the world of New Zealand domain Names.

Bless you Bruce.