Get set for the great domain sale of '05

Want to be master of your domain? Well, Web master, anyway. In six weeks you can, thanks to a landmark decision to release 20,000 geographic domain names for public sale.

The .au domain regulator, has decided to remove restrictions on the previously unavailable geographic domain names, which will go up for grabs on an online list to be published in six weeks.

Domain names such as southmelbourne.com.au and stkilda.net.au will be available for public sale, according to .au Domain Administration (auDA).

The .au domain names of Australian capital cities remain registered, however.

Chris Disspain, CEO of auDA, said the decision to release more geographic domains was made following a policy review last year.

Many geographic domain names have been restricted from business ownership in Australia for fear of negative impact on community geographic names.

The review found few restrictions on geographic names in other domain name spaces, and that auDA's restrictions had been applied inconsistently over time.

Disspain said business had strong interest in geographic .au domains, but stipulated that the sale would be coordinated "on a level playing field". Previously, some domain names have been sold to highest bidder, a process which favours big business.

"If there is more than one applicant for a domain, then a computer-generated draw will be done," he said.

However, usual auDA regulations will still apply.

"You must have a close or substantial connection to the name [you wish to buy]," Disspain said.

Under the sale process, similar geographic names will be bundled and sold together. An example would be the domain names of northmelbourne.com.au and north-melbourne.com.au, Disspain said.

"We do expect a lot of interest from real estate agents, who like to associate themselves with one area," he said.

"Also football clubs, particularly in Melbourne, for domains like carlton.com.au."

The geographic .au domains will be charged at an additional $500 to the regular registration fee.

This additional charge will fund the setup of eight new second-level domains for each State and Territory ie, nsw.au.

The second-level domains will be reserved for community groups in those States ie, suburb.nsw.au.

These have been designed to give community access to relevant domains, given the 20,000 to be sold.

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