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WEST PALM BEACH – Back in 2017, I wrote about the likelihood of growing regulation aimed at domain names; the article was titled, “Could Domain Investing Industry End with Legal Provision for Domain Hoarding”. That writing stirred some discussion, with one domainer going as far as considering such a possibility as ‘pointless’ or as he put it, like planning for when an asteroid hits your house”.

Well, such pointless concern is exactly what is being proposed with by AuDA (the overseer of the country’s .AU top level domain), which some believe, and rightfully so, will serve as a ban on domain name investment.

As my original article had made clear, this is what was done with the toll free phone number system when vanity 800 numbers ran out. However, these rules or regulations created in 1997 were still poorly enforced till at least 2011, and likely remain poorly enforced today.

Here are some of the policy suggestions being reviewed:

The Panel recommends:

“A [domain name] 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”.

Indicators that a domain name has been registered for resale or warehousing include when some of the following factors are satisfied:

  • The registrant, or entities associated with the registrant, own more than 100 Australian domain names that are not substantially identical to trademarks or business names of the registrant or that consist of acronyms, dictionary words, or common phrases.
  • The domain name in question is not being used, or if being used, resolves to a website that is primarily computer generated and does not relate to the registrant, and other domain names owned by the registrant are also not being used or resolve to similar computer generated websites.
  • The domain name in question is listed or advertised for sale or auction, and other domain names owned by the registrant are also listed or advertised for sale or auction.
  • The registrant of the domain name in question 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 directly related to the domain name.
  • In the past six months, the registrant has sold or transferred more than six domain names, other than in relation to the sale of a business.

If the majority of these indicators are satisfied, there will be a rebuttable presumption that the domain name has been registered for resale or warehousing.

You can call it what you want, but the suggestions speak for themselves.

Now that doesn’t mean that the suggestions will be implemented, but it does suggest there is a desire by some, for strengthening those rules and restrictions which will specifically target the domain name investor by implementing provisions which categorize and restrict “warehousing” or the “hoarding” of domain names.

The Internet Commerce Association (ICA) has come out in opposition to such rules and regulations in a letter to AuDA’s Policy Review Panel.