Is domaining a good thing or not?

.au plans to actively enforce ban on domaining

Around the world, top-level domain administrators have very different views on the commercial trading of registered domain names, known as 'domaining'. Some registries encourage domaining, others tolerate it, and a few actively seek to prevent it. One of the registries opposed to the practice is AuDA, which runs Australia's .au domain. AuDA's policy is, "A registrant may not register a domain name for the sole purpose of resale or transfer to another entity."

Hundred-domain threshold

This week, AuDA announced plans to actively enforce that rule. Anyone who holds more than a hundred .au domain names will be asked to explain. If an adequate explanation isn't forthcoming, the names will be deleted by the registry. AuDA's rationale for the policy is that domaining pushes up the cost of doing business over the internet in Australia. The organisation is therefore opposed to domaining as a matter of principle.

Pros and cons

Domaining is an activity you can look at two ways. Companies that register domain names with the aim of reselling them tend to be unpopular with people who have to pay what they regard as inflated prices to get hold of the names they want. On the other hand, the trade adds value to the economy. Here in the Netherlands, for example, thousands of registrants a year sell on their domain names. A ban on domaining could suppress that kind of private trading, and make domain names less saleable. After all, how do you know whether you're breaking the rules by selling your domain name? 

Preventing concentration

AuDA's investigation threshold of a hundred domain names suggests that the main aim is to curtail the power of .au's volume players. However, the policy will have the downside of increasing the administrative burden on organisations with more than a hundred domain names. That could induce some of them to slim down their .au portfolios.

Situation in .nl

Domaining isn't against the rules in .nl. If you have a .nl domain name, you are perfectly entitled to sell it. Commercial stockpiling of domain names for resale is permitted as well, but accounts for less than 10 per cent of the 5.8 million or so registered .nl domain names. So domainers control far fewer names than the five million-plus available in our suggestion tool.

Brand names and trading names

But what if the domain name matching your business name has been snapped up by a domainer? It's worth noting that no one is entitled to register someone else's brand name or trading name without their consent. If you think that someone has been 'pinched' a name that's rightfully yours, check out our Dispute Resolution Regulations for details of your options.


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