Submission of Bruce Clement to the Domain Name Commission Limited (DNCL) on the proposed registration of .nz domain names at the second level.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this proposed change. I have an interest in this as I have a number of .nz domain names registered.
1. Question 1
Should the New Zealand domain name space be extended to allow registration at the
second level, for example yourname.nz?
New Zealand has a single top level domain name .nz allocated to it. Currently we severely restrict the second level within that name which allows plenty of room for expansion as the needs of the New Zealand Internet community change. The ability to do this is dependent on suitable names being available. If we allow direct registration at the second level, nearly all of the good names would be snapped up in a feeding frenzy either during the sunrise period by existing name holders or immediately after public registration is opened.
There is a proposal that certain names would be reserved for future expansion, but I don't believe that this is sufficient as the future is incredibly difficult to accurately predict.
Two years ago my submission to the “Second Level Domains Policy Review”i said inter alia “I can't see any likely benefit in the near future for creating more unmoderated 2LDs” and although I supported its creation, quietly believed that the .kiwi.nz proposal would have great difficulty getting the necessary 1,000 registrations in the first month, yet it surprised me by achieving this in the first 15 minutes ii. Had direct registrations at the second level been permitted it is highly likely that kiwi.nz would have been registered and this would have been impossible. Equally I regard it as highly unlikely that anyone would have thought to reserve kiwi.nz for future expansion.
As another, hypothetical, example we now know that the global top level domain for websites aimed at mobile devices .mobi was not a huge success, but had it been one then there might have been a desire to provide a similar facility for the .NZ space. It would have made sense to create .mobi.nz for this purpose, but with unregulated registrations at the second level it is unlikely that this would have been reserved.
In 2014 there may be an unexpected run-away success in the global top level namespace and it would make sense to have an equivalent second level namespace inside .NZ. With this proposed change doing this with the equivalent name would probably be impossible.
I have seen very few explanations as to why this proposed change is a good change to make. Most of the submissions in favour are along the lines of “I have xxx.co.nz and want xxx.nz”. Well, I have clement.co.nz and would dearly like to have clement.nz, but that is not a sufficient reason to abandon the ability to create new second level name hierarchies that we can't predict today.
The fact that questions 3 through 5 below are required shows that this problem has been noticed at some level or other in the creation of this consultation document.
2. Question 2
Are there any other undertakings that the Domain Name Commission should make while
developing/implementing the policy?
One commonly made objection to this proposal is that businesses with existing domain names would be “forced” to register an additional domain name. The current perceived wisdom is that businesses should have the .co.nz matching their business or trading name and that other .nz second level domains are of minimal interest. If implemented this proposal disrupts that wisdom and it may be necessary in the future to have either the .nz or the .co.nz (or possibly both) but in the short term it would be prudent for businesses to secure both names if possible. With the current proposal this may cost businesses with a sensible number of domain names an additional $20 to $400 per annum in registration fees.
I would like to propose that during the period of uncertainty following the introduction of this change and for a reasonable period after that it should be possible for existing registrants to “reserve” the .nz equivalent of their existing .x.nz domain name without charge. During the period that names are reserved they either should not appear in the DNS at all or be represented by a simple DNAME alias to the current domain name in a similar manner to the way that .maori.nz is aliased to .maori.nz. I believe that appearing as a DNAME would be preferable as it allows name holders to determine which name is more important.
At any time during the reservation period the registrant should be able to use their UDAI to transfer the domain name to a normal registrar which would also turn it into a normal domain name, presumably it would begin to be charged for at that time.
I'm not sure how long these reservations should last, but unless a better answer is forthcoming I'd suggest making them operate for two years, the same length of time as the temporary extension to the DRS, the other temporary provision in this proposed change.
If you don't like this reservation idea, then I'd suggest that the initial “free” registration should be for an extended period to avoid the accusation that this is purely a revenue generating scheme.
3. Question 3
Should new second level domains be created to cater for particular interest groups, such
as .wine.nz or .sport.nz?
At one level I believe that all generic words that name business types or social activities should be reserved but the number of potential special interest groups is so large that it would ridiculously fragment the .nz space.
This is part of the problem that I addressed in my answer to question 1 above,
4. Question 4
Should new moderated second level domains be created to cater for domain names that
require special protection, such as .bank.nz?
I would like to suggest that moderated .ltd.nz, .inc.nz, and .charity.nz are created for registered companies, incorporated societies and registered charities respectively.
5. Question 5.
Should the registration of some names such as .com.nz or .gov.nz, be prohibited at the
second level to minimise potential confusion? What names, if any, should be prohibited?
.nz.nz should be blocked as it creates potential problems for people who use default domain name suffixes.
I don't believe that it is a good idea to simply block other names. For cases such as .com.nz, .gov.nz, etc I believe it would be better to identify which name in the hierarchy it could be confused with and then use a DNAME to alias it to the obvious conflict. In this way, .com.nz would be registered as an alias for .co.nz and so forth. This should be a permanent feature and not just for the two year period proposed for changes to the DRS and the reserved domain names suggested above.
It's hard to come up with a good list, but I'd suggest that as they are the countries we most often compare ourselves to, the 2nd level domain names used in .au and .uk should be aliased to the equivalent .nz. In the traditional global top level domain space, .net.nz and .org.nz already exist; .com.nz is provided for with .au equivalence leaving .edu.nz which could be aliased to .ac.nz
6. Question 6.
Do you agree with the rationale for the Sunrise Period that would enable existing .nz
domain name holders first chance to register names at the second level? Why?
Although there are exceptions, the general case is that the existing x.y.nz registrants have the greatest investment in “y” and identification with it. They often have established businesses around the registered name and if .nz replaces the .co.nz as the preferred name that businesses or other organisations should have then they should be given the opportunity to obtain them.
7. Question 7.
Who should be allowed to register a domain name at the second level when there are
competing registrations at the third level?
Any existing registrants who apply to register. Where more than one existing registrant applies to register a name, see my answer to Question 8.
8. Question 8
Assuming only persons with a conflicting third level domain name may apply, how should
that conflict be resolved? By consent? Or some other mechanism?
I believe that if only one existing registrant applies for the .nz, they should have it. If more than one existing registrant applies, then the registrant of the oldest third level domain name should be the one to be able to register.
Others have suggested that the .co.nz should be the one to be able to register .nz, but in most cases the .co.nz is the oldest one and in the few cases I'm aware of where the .co.nz is not the oldest, the older name is the more important one. There may still be a few anomalies with this approach but I believe that there will be less of these than the number we would get if we went with consent.
I don't believe that consent is the appropriate mechanism as there are too many bad cases. For example, I have been operating a web directory at weblinks.co.nz since 2007, in 2011 somebody in Australia registered weblinks.net.nz which is parked. It seems absurd that a parked name should be able to block my shifting to weblinks.nz should that become the “place to be”.
It doesn't even have to be a parked domain name. In 1997 Athletics New Zealand registered athletics.org.nz and uses it to promote athletics. I happen to have registered athletics.co.nz in 2006 and have a fairly small and trivial website on the name. It would be wrong for my little website to be able to block Athletics New Zealand from obtaining athletics.nz.
There is also the suggestion that the existence of registered trademarks should give priority. Where the domain name is “fanciful” this could be reasonable, but where a generic English word has been registered the existing DRS provisions are sufficient and failing action under that policy it can be assumed that the registrant using the name in accordance with its dictionary meaning has a legitimate interest in the name.
I could swear I read a submission to this consultation (which I can no longer locate) where it was pointed out that for domains first registered before the current shared registry service was implemented that the creation date in the Whois database may be incorrect. I would imagine that the number of domain names that have been continuously registered for that length of time and have competing registrations would be fairly small and where there are competing registrations from that era I'd suggest that registration dates could be sorted out manually.
9. Question 9.
Should the Domain Name Commission consider extending its Dispute Resolution Service
for a limited period to cover particular sub-domains when considering whether a name
registered at the second level infringes a complainant’s rights?
There may be some confusion in the short term until people become used to the new naming scheme. This proposal would help reduce confusion during that period.
Two years seems a reasonable period to give this protection.
10. Question 10.
Is the approach as outlined in the proposed amended policy in Appendix C appropriate?
It seems balanced and gives the registrant reasonable opportunity to comply.
Where a registrant is selling subdomains it might be reasonable to give them a very few more days to respond to a DRS. This would be to give them time to contact their customer and give the third party the opportunity to lodge a response.
11. Question 11
Are there any other comments you would like to make relating to this consultation?
I'm a little worried about registration dates and hence expiry dates of the new domains registered during the sunrise period. I assume that the default would be that they are all registered at the same time as .nz goes live. I'd like to propose that they should either expire on the same day in the month as the original domain name for ease of renewal by the registrant or should expire 15 days offset from the original domain name to avoid them both expiring at the same time following an accidental failure to renew.