auDA's Policy Review Panel was always doomed
By: Robert Kaay

auDA's Policy Review Panel was always doomed

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
Brett Fenton

The only people arguing against choice (in regards to Direct .AU Registrations) are cybersquatters who want to limit the available space so they can manage demand and their operational cost base.

2nd March, 2018
Robert Kaay

With all due respect to everyone involved, there is a massive difference between a trademark-infringing cybersquatter, and a business who holds 20 domain names to protect their brand, and a domain name investor who is intelligent enough to use foresight to invest hard earned money into a domain name that can be used in the future to develop a great business. Just because some domain name investors got in early, doesn't mean they are doing anything wrong. That's like complaining that you should be given 20 free Bitcoins because you didn't know they were going to be so valuable down the track... "it's not fair, let's change the rules" translates into: you're jealous you didn't think of it earlier yourself.
2nd March, 2018
Brett Fenton

"Cybersquatting is the practice of registering common or brand-related domain names with the aim of reselling them at a profit. Companies may engage in defensive registrations of these domain names to prevent others engaging in cybersquatting."

So I completely disagree. Anyone who registers names solely for the purpose of resale, who simply looks to extort 10's, 100's or 1000's of times the face value of a domain to businesses is by the Deloitte definition a cybersquatter.

They add no value, create no IP, build nothing and employ no-one. It's well past due to end the activity once and for all in Australia.

The great irony is they have the most to lose in .au, and so are screaming and rather than talk about the impact to their business, talk about costs for small business in Australia. If they were so concerned about costs in small business, they wouldn't be extorting them via domain resale and charging thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for something with a face value of less than $50.

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
Robert Kaay

I honestly can't believe you just wrote that Brett. As CTO of Melbourne IT Group and a panel member of the PRP, you have just publicly called every single domain name investor and domain broker, an "extortionist" and have publicly stated that domain names like,),) (and all the other 3.1 million Australian domain names) are worth no more than $50.

Domain names are valuable digital assets. In your important various public roles, I can't believe you don't and can't understand that?! Absolutely unbelievable.

Your one-sided viewpoint and role on the crazy PRP implementation rules is now crystal clear. This madness needs to be brought to a swift end.

2nd March, 2018
Brett Fenton

In other news today, cybersquatters don't like being called cybersquatters and the sky continues to be blue.

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.

Published: Sun, 4th Mar 2018 19:58
Author: Robert Kaay


Is Melbourne IT/ Netfleet a &
7 Mar 2018 17:36
There seems to be a serious disconnection between what Brett things and says and what his employer Melbourne IT company thinks, says and does?
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Netfleet Top Domain Sales - $137,501 - $90,585 - $50,000 - $39,930 - $36,301 - $34,026 - $33,121 - $33,001 - $30,801 - $27,500 - $27,500 - $27,500 - $25,500 - $24,202 - $22,500 - $22,000 - $22,000 - $20,009 - $20,000 - $20,000 - $20,000 - $20,000 - $18,701 - $17,845 - $17,820 - $17,111 - $16,500 - $16,200 - $15,401 - $15,000 - $14,680 - $14,474 - $14,000 - $14,000 - $13,811 - $13,811 -
Robert Kaay
9 Apr 2018 12:50
The first of many blows about to come to the "tainted" auDA PRP -

It would be very interesting to publicly read Luke's resignation letter, on how he saw certain panel members forcing their opinions...

The PRP should now be disbanded - especially due to the details in the above article.
27 May 2018 20:36
Here is Luke's resignation letter:

In it, Luke clearly states:

"I no longer have confidence that the Panel can proceed in a manner that is in the best interests of the Australian internet community".

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Last Update: 23-01-2021 21:43