The introduction of the .au namespace has pitted state and federal government departments against each other as they vie for the same premium domain names.
Earlier this year, Australia’s web domain administrator auDA introduced .au direct domain names (for example http://www.crikey.au) to compliment existing namespaces like .com.au or .org.au.
For the first six months of .au’s existence, auDA has offered people or organisations who already have domains in existing Australian namespaces the opportunity to place a priority application for the .au version. For example, Crikey‘s publisher Private Media was eligible to bid for crikey.au because of its registration of crikey.com.au.
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 may have multiple eligible registrants. Different parties may have registered the same domain on com.au and .net.au, for example.
So what happens when more than one eligible person or group lays claim to a .au domain? According to the auDA: “Priority applicants will need to negotiate between themselves to determine who will be allocated the .au direct domain name they have applied for.”
Crikey couldn’t help but notice that there are quite a few government departments that have put in a bid for the same name, including:
treasury.au: the federal department, all of the state 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 have all applied, as have the owners of arts.net.au, arts.com.au and arts.edu.au.
health.au: the federal department, all state and territories except the Northern Territory, and the owner of health.com.au have applied.
education.au: the federal department, Victoria, Tasmania, NSW, South Australia, WA, and ACT, and the owner of education.net.au have applied.
It’s up to the applicants to contact each other and work it out. The auDA said it won’t step in and make an adjudication, instead just holding the domain until others can thrash it out.
Reasonable minds would assume that the federal departments will end up prevailing. We’ll keep an eye on it.
Meanwhile, the .au namespace will open for registrations for anyone from next week. And some cheeky domain registrars have already spotted opportunities to cybersquat.