When new TLDs were being introduced one of the arguments in their favour is that they’d offer more choices to registrants.
Earlier today the .art registry made a rather odd announcement:
.ART third-level domains are here! What is a third-level domain? Why choosing one? Read more about on our blog & get started on your online presence! https://t.co/Sz6YDd6CS9#artdomains #.art #domains #thirdlevel pic.twitter.com/7ie94iCwJz— .art Domains (@Art_Domains) January 5, 2021
Apparently they’re now offering “3rd level domains”
According to the blog post:
ART’s third-level domains provide an inexpensive and easy-to-use entrée into the world of domain names.They also have key advantages:
Get a low-cost, introductory opportunity to establish your unique & permanent online address;
Showcase your project, hobby or collections;
Protect your intellectual property in a way that other online platforms do not;
Third-level domains are exempt from renewal fees. You only pay once!
There’s no indication of how much these “domains” would cost, whether there’s any intellectual property protections for existing IP holders or any other details. The claim about intellectual property protection is bizarre, as not only are these not proper domain names, but the .art registry itself is already offering domains for sale like nokia.art (Nokia take a fairly dim view of domains being registered using their marks)
Basically the idea behind 3rd level names is to create namespaces from existing domains. Technically they aren’t “real” domain names at all and are just subdomains of existing domain names.
Unless, of course, the registry is setup to support them fully.
Which in theory, at least, Centralnic, who run the .art backend, would be. Centralnic did after all cut its teeth selling domain names based off “extensions” like gb.com
There’s no issue with a registrant setting up their domain(s) for 3rd level registrations, though some registry operators might explicitly forbid it. When you signup for some online services you are automatically given a subdomain eg. $username.$service.$tld
However in the new TLD space a registry would need to get sign off from ICANN if they wanted to offer 3rd level registrations. ICANN has a process for this called the “Registry Services Evaluation Policy” which is how domain name registries add, change or remove extra services like registry lock, IDN support and others.
You can peruse the archives of RSEP requests here.
There’s been quite a few over the years, but not all of them have been granted. Why? Well in some cases there are technical or policy reasons why the introduction of a “service” could be seen as problematic.
In the case of 3rd level registrations the only domain name registry to have submitted a request to offer this kind of service was the now defunct operator of the .wed domain registry. They put in a request to dish out 3rd level domain names using a rather large number of domains – over 11 thousand – which was rejected by ICANN.
In the case of .art there’s no trace of any RSEP for this, so what are they playing at?
As the registry operator for .art they are bound by the contract and policies, so offering the 3rd level domains would require formal approval.
Breaching the contract could cause them headaches, as ultimately ICANN has the power to decide who, if anyone, operates a specific top level domain extension.