Ministries battle for .au domain registration

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The introduction of the .au namespace pitted state and federal government departments against each other as they competed for the same premium domain names.

Earlier this year, Australian web domain administrator auDA introduced direct .au domain names (e.g. http://www.crikey.au) to complement existing namespaces like .com.au or .org .to.

For the first six months of .au, auDA has offered individuals or organizations that already own domains in existing Australian namespaces the opportunity to apply for the .au version in priority. For instance, CrikeyThe Private Media publisher was eligible to bid on crikey.au due to its crikey.com.au registration.

More than 4 million .au domains have been registered so far, overtaking .net.au to make .au the second most registered Australian namespace in August.

Each .au can have multiple eligible registrants. Different parties may have registered the same domain on com.au and .net.au, for example.

So what happens when multiple eligible individuals or groups claim a .au domain? According to auDA: “Priority applicants will need to negotiate among themselves to determine who will be assigned the direct .au domain name for which they have applied.”

Crikey couldn’t help but notice that there are quite a few departments bidding for the same name, including:

treasure.au: the federal department, all states and territories except Victoria, and the owner of treasury.com.au (which is just a holding page at the moment) have applied.

arts.au: the Federal Department, NSW, Victoria, ACT, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania all applied, as did the owners of arts.net.au, arts.com.au and arts.edu.au.

health.au: the federal department, all states and territories except the Northern Territory and the owner of health.com.au applied.

education.au: the federal department, Victoria, Tasmania, NSW, South Australia, WA and ACT, and the owner of education.net.au applied.

It is up to the candidates to contact each other and find a solution. auDA said it would not step in and make a decision, but would simply hold onto the domain until others can resolve it.

Reasonable minds would assume that federal departments will eventually prevail. We’ll keep an eye on it.

Meanwhile, the .au namespace will be open for registration for everyone starting next week. And some cheeky domain registrars have already spotted opportunities for cybersquatting.

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