On Friday 17 January a public DNS Forum was held in Sydney to discuss the future management of the Domain Name System (DNS) in Australia and changes to the current 'com.au' naming policies. There was a discussion about the formation of a DNS governing body to monk for the DNS process in the .au namespace. DNS is responsible for mapping hard-to-remember IP addresses into easy-to-remember names. It is one of the underlying Internet services most users take for granted.
It was envisaged that the governing body would comprise elected representatives who would look after the DNS interests of the Australian Internet community. The proposed structure of the body is a non-profit company limited by guarantee. It is to consist of a board of trustees with an independent chair. Groups such as AWG, ISOCAU and INCA were all touted as having a role to play on the board of the governing body. The major functions of the governing body are expected to include the appointment of Domain Name Administrators, the allocation of new 2nd level domains within the .au namespace, and ensuring the Australian DNS performs reliably and consistently.
A working group is currently establishing a formal proposal to define the operation and role of the governing body. The proposal will be available for public comment early this month. Another public meeting of the DNS Forum will take place in Sydney in early April in an attempt to ratify the proposal. Details on the proposal and the meeting will appear at http://www.intiaa.asn.au. ISPs are encouraged to participate in the public comment phase of this process. The proposal to relax some of the current policies regarding the allocation of domain names in the com.au namespace were also disscused at the meeting. The current com.au naming policy can be viewed at the MelbourneIT web site, http://www.melbournelT.com.au/com_au/index.html. The changes to the com.au policy should be available at the MelbournelT web site shortly. The changes posted to the DNS issues mailing list by MelbournelT on 23 January follow.
Rule 5 (forbidding common dictionary words) will be amended to allow registration of distinctive common words that form part of a registered company name or registered business name of the applicant. But, as clarified below, generic names for products (goods or services), industry sectors and corporate entities will still be excluded.
Rule 6 (excluding generic names) will be deleted, because it is effectively incorporated in the new Rule 5.
Rule 7 (excluding Australian place names) has been defined more exactly; it explicitly excludes Australian placenames found in the the list of Australian Postcodes http://www.auspost.com.au/pcode96.htm, including Australia itself and the names of Australian States and Territories (and their standard abbreviations). The amended Rule 5 now permits common words to be accepted as Third Level Domain Names (3LDNs) under com.au, provided that all of the following conditions apply:
the proposed word is a distinct word within the registered company name or registered business name of the applicant - or represents the complete set of initials of all words within a registered Australian company name, excluding the initials corresponding to Lid or Pty Ltd. We reserve the right to reject offensive names, especially those coined ingeniously from the initials of company or business names.
the proposed domain name(DN) is not a generic product name (such as software, pizza, cars, magazines, information, cash, credit, restaurants) or a generic industry or industry sector name (such as banking, tourism, education, tennis, gardening, agriculture, mining or consulting).
the proposed DN is not an Australian place name (or standard abbreviation of an Australian place name), such as Australia, WA or westernaustralia, or any name on the list of Australian Postcodes.
the proposed DN is not a generic word describing organisations or industries (such as company, corporation, industries, association, organisation, trust, fund, bank, cooperative, institution) - nor a standard abbreviation for any of these words, such as Pty or Ltd.
An example of the changes to Rule 5 means that Ample Industries Pty Lid is entitled to 'ample.com.au' or 'ampleindustries.com.au' or 'ai.com.au', but not to 'industries.com.au'. Likewise, Tennis Australia is entitled to 'tennis-australia.com.au' but not to either 'tennis.com.au' or 'australia.com.au'.
The newly clarified Rule 7 was applicable immediately, as it was simply a clarification of current policy. The new Rule 5 came into force on 24 February 1997. In other words, from 24 February companies and businesses registered to trade in Australia are entitled to apply for distinctive common names under com.au, consistent with the amended Rule 5 above, through the normal com.au registration process.
The above information was kindly supplied by Pauline Van Winsen Pauline.van.Winsen@uniq.com.au.
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