Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Internet agency to battle domain name 'tasting,' which ties up millions of names

NEW YORK (AP) — The Internet's key oversight agency is taking a preliminary step toward combating domain name tasting — the online equivalent of buying expensive clothes on a charge card only to return them for a full refund after wearing them to a party.

Entrepreneurs have been taking advantage of a five-day grace period to sample domain names, keeping the relative few that might generate advertising revenues and dropping the rest before paying.

The grace period was originally designed to rectify legitimate mistakes, such as registrants mistyping the domain name they are about to buy. But with automation and a burgeoning online advertising market, entrepreneurs generated big bucks exploiting the policy to test hoards of names.

The practice ties up millions of domain names at any given time, making it more difficult for legitimate individuals and businesses to get a desirable name.

In a draft report issued this week, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers outlined key issues for a committee to study further and craft recommendations. A final report is due after a public comment period closes Jan. 28.

Don't expect any immediate relief. The committee, the Generic Names Supporting Organization, could take months or years to review the matter, after which ICANN's board still would have to vote on any changes.

The operators of the ".org" suffix already won approval to charge companies that make too many returns. The number of deletions dropped to 152,700 in June, compared with 2.4 million in May, after the new fee took effect.

New recommendations would apply to other global suffixes, including the Internet's most popular, ".com."

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