At present the Australian ccTLD only allows registrations under extensions such as com.au, net.au, org.au etc., The registry’s rules make it quite hard, though not impossible for non-Australians to register domain names. However if you hold a trademark that is valid in Australia you can get a domain.
In common with other country codes they’ve been examining the possibility of opening up direct registrations, so you’d end up with yourcompany.au instead of yourcompany.com.au, or at least you’d have the option.
The registry, its board and policy review panel have been exploring the options around offering direct registrations for the last couple of years and to that end they conducted some surveys and reviews. (You can read all the background material they’ve released here.)
So far so good. Other ccTLD registries have gone down this road in the past. Nominet did it, but upset a lot of domainers in the process, whereas co.nz managed to pull it off without generating that much controversy.
After several years of this being in the pipeline they’re now conducting one final round of consultation before moving forward with the introduction of direct registrations.
However the final report that they’re looking for input on goes much further than simply giving a green light to direct registrations. (You can download a copy here)
There are quite a few other policy recommendations in there that will impact registrants (and potential registrants) of .au domain names. While a fundamental change to registration policy might have involved updating other policies the report goes much much further:
- Non-Australian businesses could be restricted to exact match registrations if using a trademark. The current policy does not impose these kind of restrictions. Once you have a trademark covering Australia you have the same rights to register as anyone else.
- “Stricter controls be put in place to ensure that domain names are not being registered solely for the purpose of resale or warehousing (ie. holding a large collection of domain licences for future resale when they become more valuable).” – while many ccTLDs have clauses in their policies to “warehousing” this goes much further and I’d suspect too far. It’s very easy for this to kill off the aftermarket if not handled sanely
- Removal of “monetisation” as a valid purpose for registering a domain (yeah, that’s a pretty explicit attack on a business model)
Specifically around the direct registrations:
- Priority allocation for 6 months. So if you have company.com.au you will be able to get company.au before anyone else for a 6 month period
- Conflict resolution for clashes ie. if there’s a domain under .com.au and .org.au. While I understand the rationale other ccTLDs gave priority to one extension over others and simplified things.
- Rights for the priority allocation date back to 4 February 2018, as this is when the consultation opened
The consultation is open until April 10th and submissions can be made via email or in writing. Auda will not be considering anonymous submissions and also state that they will publish all submissions received unless they are explicitly marked as “confidential”.