Public submissions to auDA for opinions on the Public Review Policy recommendations were due on Sunday. Hopefully you remembered to submit yours?
Everyone is now waiting and watching for the auDA to release the results.
Regardless of what those results are, I had the unfortunate experience of watching every domain name investor in Australia be called a "cybersquatter" on the weekend by the Chief Technology Officer of Melbourne IT. And this wasn't for owning a trademark-infringing domain name, but just for simply owning more than one generic or geographic every-day domain name.
He didn't just label every domain name portfolio holder in Australia a cybersquatter, in effect he labelled every domain name investor worldwide, a cybersquatter. And all for simply owning a number of domain names (which most of us realise are actually valuable digital assets). He states that no domain name should ever be sold to anyone for an amount over, what he calls, a "face value" of $50.
I guess people who own Bitcoin, Ethereum and Cardano (cryptocurrency, but also digital assets) are cybersquatters too, and their coins are never allowed to be worth more than $50 each, by this logic?
For those not in the know, Melbourne IT Group is a publicly listed company with offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. They claim to aspire to be "Australia's most impactful digital technology partner".
In the area of small to medium businesses, they have over 450,000 direct customers. In their Enterprise Services Business division for corporate and government sectors, they claim to generate annual revenue of over $70m.
The CTO of Melbourne IT also happens to be a current serving panelist on auDA's Policy Review Panel (PRP). The PRP have recently been busy designing recommendations to auDA on how Direct .AU Registrations should be implemented. Including what the eligibility and allocation critera should be.
The massive shakeup and huge financial disruption the current PRP's proposed Direct .AU Registration discussion points are causing and will continue to cause have been well-documented in other articles on this website over the past few weeks.
As important as the role of PRP member is, guiding the implementation of the biggest change to Australia's internet domain name (website names) system in over 30 years for over 2 million Australian businesses, it has been made very clear this past weekend, that Brett Fenton (CTO, Melbourne IT) has always been driving for one particular outcome.
This really happened on Linked In just last weekend, in March, 2018.1st March, 2018
2nd March, 2018
Fortunately, there are some other people who seem to have a clearer understanding on what the term "cybersquatter" really means. You can read their opinions here and here, but the short version goes like this:
Unfortunately, even some lawyers don't seem to understand what cybersquatting truly is. Take this Legalvision article from December 2015. The first sentence is wrong and misleading in my opinion:
"Cybersquatting refers to the registration of internet domain names with the purpose of profiting from its purchase."
Thank goodness we have some lawyers like Cooper Mills who define the term properly:
"Cybersquatting is the practice of bad faith use and or registration of a domain name."
There's a big difference between those two definitions.
My response to Brett's response that every domain name investor is a cybersquatter, and every domain name is only worth $50, went exactly like this:2nd March, 2018
It is crystal clear that the CTO of Melbourne IT and a current serving panelist on auDA's PRP sees every single Australian domain name as only having a "face value" of less than $50. He believes every single person or business that owns more than a couple of domain names for their business, is a cybersquatter, and if they try to sell a generic or geographic domain name for over $50, they are an "extortionist".
Last year, I sold four Australian domain names over $50,000 each. There's a good reason for this. The companies that bought these names were not silly. They knew how powerful a premium domain name can be. They knew they were making an incredible investment in a powerful digital asset. And you can see how well these three examples have utilised their valuable digital assets:
Yet, Brett Fenton believes they were ripped off?! That they should have only paid $50 for each domain name.
But I say this: Scarce and unique domain names cost money. At least tens of thousands of dollars. Because if they didn't. They wouldn't be scarce and unique. They'd be ordinary. And ordinary businesses, make ordinary money.
The companies mentioned above, in terms of their online presence, are far from ordinary.
This has got to be the final straw with this whole PRP Direct .AU implementation process. It can't be clearer here. This is proof that there is at least one panelist member of the PRP that had a pre-conceived, self-interested reason for being there.
How many others in the PRP listen and/or are influenced by Brett Fenton's views?
And get this.
Brett Fenton has publicly stated that both himself, and Melbourne IT, will be EXITING THE DOMAIN NAME INDUSTRY in about 2 years from now.
Why then, was he chosen as a contributing current member of the Policy Review Panel, that will affect the outcome of Australian domain names for decades to come?
The PRP train has well and truly fallen off the rails. The track is bent and warped. auDA must surely now look to reverse their decision to implement Direct .AU Registrations altogether and disband the current PRP.