Australia: Australian Domain Administrator (auDA) Considers Proposals For New .au Domains

The Australian Domain Name Administrator (auDA) is responsible for the development and implementation of policy relating to the use and allocation of .au domains. There are currently 16 active second level domains (2LDs) available for use in the .au space. Each 2LD is for a specific purpose. auDA policy restricts the type of entities that may register a domain name and also the type of 2LD that may be used by each relevant entity. Some of the currently available 2LDs include com.au (for general commercial use), id.au (for use by individuals) and gov.au (for use by government bodies and departments). On 1 October 2009, auDA called for public proposals for new 2LDs and subsequently set up the New 2LDs Advisory Panel to evaluate proposals and provide recommendations to auDA. Subject to public consultation, auDA is also considering re-activating the existing conf.au and info.au domains, which became inactive following their introduction in 2002. auDA has since received two proposals for new 2LDs and two proposals relating to the existing conf.au and info.au domains.

blog.au

AusRegistry proposes that blog.au should be introduced for use by registrants wishing to establish websites purely for blogging purposes. Under AusRegistry's proposal, registrants will be permitted to use any name considered appropriate as their domain name in conjunction with blog.au. For example, the domain name could be cars.blog.au or joebloggs.blog.au. According to AusRegistry, internet users will find it easier to locate blog websites about particular topics if descriptive terms are allowed to be used in conjunction with a 2LD that specifically identifies the website as a blog.

event.au

Brian Burnett proposes that event.au should be introduced for users hosting websites with the primary purpose of promoting or providing information about events. According to Mr Burnett, this will assist with consolidating the event industry across Australia. Under the proposal, the types of events for which the new 2LD may be used is broader than the eligible event types under the previous conf.au eligibility requirements and includes events such as meetings, conferences, seminars, exhibitions, fairs, festivals, tournaments, races, games, parades, performances and parties.

conf.au

Mark Tearle re-submitted the proposal he initially submitted in 2002 in relation to conf.au. Mr Tearle proposes that conf.au should be available for use by registrants that already have an existing .au domain but wish to host a separate site specifically for an event the registrant is organising. This may assist to reduce the amount of unnecessary registrations for these events in other domains. Under this proposal, the domain name license will be temporary and will expire at the conclusion of the event.

info.au

auDA staff submitted two proposals for info.au, recognising its potential to be a useful domain for Australian users. Firstly, the staff proposed that info.au be re-introduced for websites providing major information resources. This is the purpose for which it was originally introduced. Registrants would be made up of organisations that maintain and provide major public information resources and campaigns, such as the Australian Federal Police. Alternatively, the staff suggested that info.au could be re-introduced as a premium commercial domain name for use by legitimate commercial entities that have been unable to register a com.au or net.au domain.

AusRegistry also supports the re-introduction of info.au. However, under AusRegistry's proposal, info.au should only be available to registrants that do not qualify for the other open 2LDs (com.au, net.au, org.au and asn.au) and do not want the domain to reflect an individual name as required for an id.au domain.

2LDs Advisory Panel

The Panel has already provided some preliminary views on the proposals. Firstly, the Panel has indicated that it will be difficult to define and enforce a requirement for registrants to use blog.au for the sole purpose of operating a blog. With this in mind and given that users can set up blogs under other domain names, the Panel currently questions whether blog.au is required.

Secondly, the Panel does not believe both event.au and conf.au are required. Whether either of these domains is required will likely depend upon public demand.

Finally, at this stage the Panel appears inclined to close down the info.au domain. According to the Panel, it will be too difficult to define which organisations properly fall within the scope of a "major information resource" for the purpose of enforcing the intended eligibility and use requirements for the info.au domain. Also, there does not appear to be a sufficient need for a new domain for that purpose given that most authoritative information resources already provide information via gov.au or edu.au domains. Limiting availability of the info.au domain only to registrants that do not qualify for the other open 2LDs will also result in the domain being available only to a small number of users.

The Panel is now open for public submissions until it files its final report with the auDA Board in June 2010. Further information about making submissions can be found at auDA's website located at www.auda.org.au.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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