ICANN Sets Rules for Domain Name Registries

FRAMINGHAM (08/04/2000) - The organization charged with managing the Internet domain name system has started setting ground rules for the groups or companies that want to manage new top-level domains to join existing ones such as .com, .org and .net. And for some people, such as Jay Link, it's an opportunity -- but an expensive one.

Link, the owner of Interlink BBS in Springfield, Ill., today said he plans to send the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) a nonrefundable $50,000 application fee to establish a registry under which he wants to operate a new .inc top-level domain.

If Link's proposal is approved by ICANN, his company -- currently a small Internet service provider -- would collect fees from any individuals or companies that wanted to register Web addresses under the .inc domain name.

That could be a lucrative business for Link. "I think whoever is approved will be big time very quickly," he said.

ICANN, a nonprofit group based in Marina del Rey, Calif., yesterday posted on its Web site an initial set of guidelines for companies that want to sponsor or operate new top-level domains. ICANN will begin accepting applications to become a domain-name registry on Sept. 5, and the deadline for submitting one is Oct. 2.

Selecting the companies that will handle domain-name registration is a must before ICANN can move forward with a plan for adding new top-level domains that was approved last month at a series of meetings in Japan.

ICANN has received a slew of proposals for new top-level domains, but most analysts expect that it will only endorse a handful of added ones at first.

Among the proposed additions are: .web, .biz, union, .customers, .complaints, .ecology, .shareholder, .taxpayer, .biz, .ecom and .firm Gilbert Bede, information technology manager at the Calgary Public Library in Alberta, has proposed a .lib top-level domain. Bede said he believes that would make it easier for people to locate his library's Web site and would also help to improve libraries in general from "an image and status point of view."

The Calgary library originally wanted to register www.cpl.org as the Web address for its site, but Bede said the Cleveland Public Library got that one first. Visitors to the Calgary site now must type http://public-library.calgary.ab.ca, a Web address that isn't easy to remember.

The library's Web site still had about two million page views last year, with 780,000 unique visitors. But if a simpler address such as cpl.lib becomes available, site traffic is "definitely going to go up," Bede said.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, in a letter to ICANN last month, said it wants to see more top-level domains to help avoid domain-name clutter under existing ones such as .com.

Good .com domain names already have been used up, according to the letter.

"While there are many technically feasible names remaining in .com, names that have high numbers of characters are not viable in a competitive market," the government agency said.

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