RE: [DNS] Geographical Names

RE: [DNS] Geographical Names

From: Mark Hughes <effectivebusiness§>
Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 02:55:48 +1100
> if there are "heaps of domains registered pre 1996 which are
> prohibited by the current policy (and have been for
> over 5 years)" I have to ask:  If a domain name must comply
> with current policy at its
> renewal, how can "heaps" of domains have gone through at least two
> iterations of renewal when they don't comply?

Gee, folks, we've been avoiding confronting this 'grandfather clause' vs
'must meet criteria at renewal' issue for the last decade.  If we're willing
to seriously open up this can of worms now then I reckon it's a sign of
maturity in .au domain name policy development :)

At the core of it, there are three policy options:

1.  We have a grandfather clause - 'if it has been approved in the past,
then it will be renewed, even if it doesn't meet current policy'.  No
questions asked.
2.  No grandfathering - we only renew domain names if they meet the current
3.  Some parts of the policy (some criteria) are governed by a grandfather
clause, while other criteria are not.

In practice over the last decade at different times for different domain
names all 3 of the above have operated - i.e. some names have been renewed
under the grandfather policy, some have not been renewed (or been cancelled)
because they didn't meet part, or all, of the current policy.

I note that the recommendations of auDA's name panel
( are in favour
of grandfathering:

Changes to domain name eligibility and allocation policies do not have
retrospective effect for current domain name licence holders. The new policy
will only apply to existing domain name licences if the licence is
re-registered to a different entity, or when the existing licence holder’s
licence expires.

The Panel recognises that ‘grandfathering’ is accepted practice when
introducing policy changes. Entities that licensed a domain name under the
existing policies will have security of tenure over that licence (provided
they continue to renew the licence as required).

The Panel notes that the intent of its recommended policy changes is to
relax the current policies, thereby allowing more domain names to be
licensed by more people. Therefore, it should not be the case that existing
domain name licence holders would ‘lose’ their licence under the new policy,
even if they were not expressly protected.

The Panel has reached this conclusion after considering the inconsistencies
created by preserving the status of some domain name licence holders under
the old policy, while requiring others to comply with the new policy."

I also note that grandfathering is strongly recommended by Robert Elz - as
you can see from his submission to the auDA name panel

"To achieve stability of domain names, no domain name was ever to be removed
from a domain name holder (other than by operation of law) as long as the
domain name holder continued to desire to retain the domain name."

Now, my personal view is that I agree completely with Robert on this one - I
think he has it absolutely correct.

The only problem is, well, logically, that view is actually incompatible
with the concept of having 2lds for specific purposes with their associated
eligibility rules.  I mean, if we look down the track 20 years or so, if
policy changes periodically but we grandfather all existing domains, then
the integrity of the 2ld with restrictive criteria declines.  Unless of
course the only changes ever to policy are ones that reduce restrictions -
which is a bit of a one-way street policy-wise (although the name panel took
this option, see their 3rd para above).

In fact, the only way to really create integrity (and that's generally the
thing seen as adding value in any 2ld with restrictions) is to enforce the
criteria at renewal time.

For example, to get away from for a minute, suppose at some time in
the future, auDA creates a as a closed, chartered 2ld for the
Chartered Public Accountants association(s).  The the CPA's assign domain
names under to all their members.  What happens if someone stops
being a CPA - do they get to keep using their domain name?  I doubt
it - over time that would blow the integrity (value) of having to

So apply the same logic to existing .au 2lds - if we accept grandfathering
of all criteria, then over time there will be more and more domain names
that don't meet the current criteria (unless we freeze all policy so it
never changes for the 2ld).  The more restrictive the existing rules, the
bigger the problem - if an organisation with a or name
decides to become a for-profit company and become as rich as MicroSoft, can
they still use their or domain name??

The whole raison d'etre for restrictive specific purpose 2lds seems to be
that having those restrictions adds some sort of value to the 2ld - else,
why have 'em at all?

I reckon its pretty funny that Robert Elz strongly supports grandfathering,
but at the same time supports having specific purpose 2lds.  I can't
logically reconcile the two ideas.  But perhaps Robert, like the White Queen
that Alice meets in 'Through the Looking Glass' can believe "as many as six
impossible things before breakfast".

So what option do we take:

1.  We rate integrity of the restricted 2LDs higher than usability /
stability of of domain names, and enforce current criteria at renewal time.
2.  We rate usability and continuity of domain names higher than integrity
of restricted 2lds, and grandfather all criteria.
3.  We have a quid each way, and grandfather some criteria while enforcing
others at renewal time - in which case, good luck and have fun developing
the definitive list of which criteria get grandfathered and which get
enforced at renewal time.

Regards, Mark

Mark Hughes
Effective Business Applications Pty Ltd
+61 4 1374 3959
Received on Fri Oct 03 2003 - 00:00:00 UTC

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