[DNS] .asn Domains

[DNS] .asn Domains

From: Don Cameron <donc§mudgeeab.com.au>
Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2001 21:15:00 +1100
For discussion

Much has been said about the matter of charging not-for-profit associations
for .asn.au and .org.au domains, and several respondents have provided sound
argument for either applying a fee, or for not applying a fee.

A basic summary of positions seems to be as follows:

Arguments in favour of a applying a fee

* auDA is tasked with commercialising the .au namespace. It is unreasonable
to expect registrars and resellers to offer free services in a commercial

* Many NFP associations and other entities have sufficient resources to pay
the amount being asked.

* auDA is not funded nor is it in a position to subsidise the free provision
of domains.

Arguments against applying a fee

* Most NFP entities are struggling for funds and cannot afford this
additional overhead.

* The culture and ethos of the Internet is not supportive of charging for
other than the provision of commercial or personal domain name services.

* Other than a desire for commercialisation, there is no justification for
applying charges where none previously existed.

Several solutions have been promoted to solve this dilemma, with the most
prevalent being the formation of a volunteer administration group able to
distribute .asn and .org domains for free, or at the least, to provide these
at a reduced rate. Other suggestions have included auDA seeking Govt.
subsidies, grant funds, and even corporate sponsorship to off-set the costs
involved. These are probably quite viable solutions and certainly fall
within the ethos of supporting charitable institutions. A such they should
be highly commended.

I am concerned however that none of these proposals addresses the underlying
issue of ensuring equitable commercial opportunity in an environment that
similarly ensures charitable and NFP organisations are not burdened with
additional overheads.

Were we to create a subsidised structure to provide free or lower-cost
domains (albeit funded or subsidised through voluntary labour), then some co
mmercial entity must miss-out on the opportunity to sell these domains.
Similarly should these domains become a full commercial product, then
obviously our NFP associations will suffer financial loss through incuring
increased overheads.

I believe that we are taking the wrong approach to this issue. Registrars
and resellers have every right to seek commercial profit, and auDA must meet
overheads if the organisation is to be sustainable. The issue with NFP
associations and groups is not one of paying a fee, it's one of balancing a
very tight budget and recouping expenses. This is the reason that numerous
subsidies and tax exemptions exist for NFP's - to assist organisations who
help our communities whilst ensuring that commercial suppliers are not the
ones burdened with the cost - in summary, our taxes are used to cover the
difference between commercial fees and charges and the fees deemed
reasonable for community welfare organisations.

Perhaps an equitable solution would be for auDA and the registrars to
support calls for a Govt. subsidy to reimburse registered NFP Associations
the cost of domain registration. The subsidy would be payable directly to
the NFP's once they had paid (a reseller) for a domain. This practice is
very much in accord with many other NFP subsidies.

I feel sure that NFP's would accept this proposal because it is in line with
many current purchasing arrangements where subsidies are payable, plus the
proposal would ensure that commercial domain providers are not disadvantaged
through losing this opportunity and custom.

It perhaps goes without saying that now would be the time to approach our
political representatives about this proposal (with an election less than 2
weeks away). The costs would not not be an excessive burden on Government -
It would be seen as a politically attractive solution to support charities
and NFP's, and - The proposal would move the onus and difficult task of
determining NFP eligibility away from registrars and resellers to the
subsidising authority.

Regards, Don Cameron

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Received on Thu Nov 01 2001 - 10:30:08 UTC

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