[DNS] Aust domain name resellers brace for bloodbath

[DNS] Aust domain name resellers brace for bloodbath

From: Patrick Corliss <patrick§quad.net.au>
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2001 03:13:26 +1100
Aust domain name resellers brace for bloodbath
By Jeanne-Vida Douglas, ZDNet Australia
26 November 2001


Tempers have reached fever pitch in the domain name game, with NetRegistry's
CEO Larry Bloch describing marketing practices of certain competitors as "a
deceptively misleading, sneaky, slimy attempt to mislead the public".

While the last straw for Bloch was a recent marketing campaign by competitor
Internet Registrations Australia, he also shot criticisms at the bodies
charged with regulating the industry.

Internet Registrations Australia stands accused of attempting to win over
customers by offering them a participation in a domain name directory, on the
proviso that the company be granted permission to "manage" the domain name.

According to Bloch, this management clause is presented in the fine print of
the agreement, and will result in domain name holders unwittingly signing
their domain name renewals to Internet Registrations Australia.

"Domain name owners in Australia are constantly sent a barrage of applications
for renewals, and requests for payment," Bloch said. "All it does is confuses
customers--the people sending these things out often have no idea how long the
domain name is registered or when the renewal is due, they essentially try to
trick them to sign up with another company."

Bloch did not limit his attack to those carrying out such practices--he also
targeted Melbourne IT, the auDA and the ACCC for their failure to place
appropriate restrictions on an industry rife with what he describes as
unethical marketing practices.

"There have been various attempts to limit these practices, but when it comes
down to it, there is no will on behalf of Melbourne IT to address the
practice, the auDA has been slow moving and inefficient, and the ACCC has been
nothing short of pathetic when it comes to stamping out unethical marketing
practices which are making it almost impossible to operate as a domain name
reseller," Bloch said.

In a separate but related incident, domain name reseller Internet Name Group
(ING) has pursued legal action against auDA Name Policy Advisory Panel member,
Joshua Rowe for allegedly publishing copyright-protected marketing documents
on various chat sites.

While the case has yet to be argued in court, Rowe published the documents, in
support of his claim ING was using unethical marketing practices similar to
those that have so angered Bloch.

"ING are now trying to scare com .au domain name holders into buying the same
name in the .com space to prevent cyber squatting," Rowe wrote in preface to a
series of addresses which linked through to scans of ING marketing material.

Rising to defend such practices, ING general manager, Mark Spektor, said his
company was operating within legal boundaries, and that it was legitimately
contacting domain name holders, using publicly available information.

"There are a lot of service providers that are upset with us but they just
have a sour taste in their mouth because we are successful at what we are
doing," Spektor said. "As far as we are concerned, we are creating competition
in the market place."

In reference to the company's marketing campaigns--which include sending
invoices directly to the accounts departments of domain name holding
companies--Spektor was adamant such practices were within legal bounds.

"What we are doing is not illegal, we are just more careful when it comes to
researching our marketing databases," Spektor asserted. "Rowe has been
conducting a smear campaign against us for sometime and has refused to desist,
despite repeated warnings. We have been left with no alternative but to take
legal action."

Bloch, on the other hand believes it is up to the ACCC to stamp out such

"What these companies is doing, while legal, is certainly unethical. They are
soliciting customers by spreading unfounded concern and charging above the
market rate for their services," Bloch said. "They are gaining a wider
customer base by misleading the public, and can only be stopped through a
concerted information campaign run by legitimate domain name registering

Bloch told ZDNet Australia he would not rule out directing customer complaints
against such practices to staff at the ACCC, in an attempt to force them to

At this stage Melbourne IT have declined to comment on Joshua Rowe's stand
against ING.

ZDNet Australia also contacted Internet Registrations Australia, the auDA, the
ACCC and Joshua Rowe, and any further responses will be published as they come
to hand.

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Received on Tue Nov 27 2001 - 16:17:15 UTC

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