Re: [DNS] More - [DNS] Generic Domain Names

Re: [DNS] More - [DNS] Generic Domain Names

From: Mark Davidson <davidson§>
Date: Fri, 07 Apr 2000 12:55:28 +1000
I tend to agree with Matthew, except maybe for 4/  and 5/, and have made a few
comments below.

Matthew King wrote:

> 1/ Subjective rules are by definition unfair to someone.

And as we have seen, the decision about whether a particular name is generic or
not seems to be particularly subjective in many cases.

> 2/ The rules themselves seem to stem from an academic background ie. a mix of
> the hallowed halls and that lovely old Australian tendency to monopoly (read
> Telstra et al) with its distrust of letting people make up their own minds
> about things.

In light of that comment, it's interesting to note that .com doesn't have the
same anti-generic names policy and they've managed to survive quite well without

> 3/ Let the market decide. Make it easy to buy and sell domains and the problem
> is sorted.

I agree with this - complaints have arisen because of the anti-generic names
policy in - and no persuasive argument to justify the policy exists
where we are talking about a commercial domain.

Having said that, I don't want to introduce into this thread any argument about
whether the domain name registration policy should be changed in
relation to other existing requirements - another thread would be good for
discussion of whether the policy should prohibit trading in names.

> 4/ For fairness I believe that the large generic list  should be opened by
> having an application period and then a random selection process for each of
> the domains. If only one person applies for a domain then they get it. (at the
> normal price). If there are a hundred then IT MUST BE random.

If more than one person applies for a particular name, it does not have to be
random - there is an opportunity for auction to the highest bidder, and it seems
to me that this will be attractive to the registrars. There is an analogy here
to bandwidth auctions, although I appreciate that some people might think it
goes against the grain for a registrar to auction domain names. (I should say
that I own no shares in Melbourne IT and have no direct or indirect financial
interest in any registrar).

Personally, I think the anti-generic policy should be withdrawn, and the names
opened up should comprise those names which have previously been rejected only
because of failing the generic names test (including where someone has queried
availability and the online test has told them they've failed the test - ie, not
just where someone has actually applied for a name and been rejected on
'appeal') . Any other "generic" names would automatically be opened up by
withdrawal of the policy, and could be registered (if the applicant passes the
other requirements). Before this could happen, the withdrawal of the policy
would need to be widely advertised, to ensure fairness to all who would like to

> 5/ I believe that the foolishness about cyber piracy should be seen as the
> smoke screen it is.  It seems to me that only Melbourne IT gains from wrapping
> us in red tape. I'd rather McDonalds  the Butcher get if they
> are faster off the draw.

Melbourne IT gains, but so do those domain owners who are able to achieve
registration of generic names.

In general:

To me, a "generic" word is a word referring to all members of a class. Whether
or not a word appears in the yellow pages or macquarie dictionary is
interesting, but to my mind it is most certainly NOT determinative of whether a
word is a "generic" word.  We have all been using the word "generic" as a type
of shorthand, but we should look at INA's policy on this is  - it's at paragraph
3.8 of the Domain Name Allocation Policy found at It turns out that "generic" may be
the wrong shorthand to be using.

As at 7 April 2000, the current INA policy states that "Words that represent
commercial categories or sectors are overly representative and will not be
licensed for use as domain names. Some examples are in the table below."

The table below is where references to phone books and dictionaries come in, and
examples given as being not allowed under this part of the policy are products,
services and professions, industries, industry sectors and organisation types.
Specific examples given in the table includes "weddings".

The idea of the policy, as Patrick Corliss has noted, is that it would be unfair
for one business to have "weddings". Like Patrick, I doubt this is the only

I also say that it would NOT be unfair for one business to own -
just as it is not unfair to start a business called "weddings" in the real
world, it should not be unfair to start a commercial site online with that
address. If the business (online or in the real world) cuts across someone
else's rights, that person can do something about it by writing to the offender,
or suing them. If you can't win a court case, you haven't had rights infringed -
so why should the other person not use the name they want to use?  I obviously
think there is no good reason. We live in a free country, don't we? ;-)

I also do not think that it is sensible for a domain name registrar (whose prime
skill sets should relate to technical issues, not semantics) to be deciding
whether proposed domain names are "words that represent commercial categories or
sectors". I am aware of no valid reason why such names should not be registered
in a commercial domain such as - and the failure of the system to
address the issue consistently, leading to discontent amongst a significant
number of users and potential users of the domain, seems enough of a reason to
get rid of this aspect of the policy.

> Matthew King

Thanks for the summary Matthew.

Mark Davidson

> >So why do they have the policy in the first place.  Reason given is that
> >would be unfair otherwise.  If you gave "weddings" to one company, it would
> >sound like they are representing all weddings and be detrimental to other
> >wedding companies.
> >
> >Personally I don't think this is the only reason but who knows what
> >motivates policy decisions of any sort -  theory, practice or ideology?
> >
> >Patrick Corliss
> >patrick&#167;
> >QUAD Quality Addressing Pty Ltd
> >Tel: 02-9740-9200
Received on Fri Apr 07 2000 - 11:04:54 UTC

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