Crazy Country Code Domains with Daniel Greenberg – DNW Podcast #8

Learn about domain name registries that charge $4,000+ per domain or require hand delivered registration applications.

Domain Name Wire podcastCan you imagine having to send a Western Union payment in order to register a domain name? How about hand delivering an application for a domain name? Or spending $4,000+ per year for registration?

Daniel Greenberg of Lexsynergy has seen it all, and on this podcast he’ll share some stories about registering country code top level domain names.

This week’s podcast also discusses Nissan’s $6.8 million sale of, GoDaddy’s latest numbers and .Dot.

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ICANN tells court ccTLDs aren’t property, can’t be awarded to plaintiffs

Victims of terrorism want to be paid (in part) with country code top level domain names.

ICANN has responded to the U.S. federal court in the District of Columbia, arguing that ccTLDs (country Code top level domain names, e.g. .ca and .de) are not property and can’t be awarded to plaintiffs in a case involving terrorism.

Plaintiffs in Jenny Rubin, et al vs. The Islamic Republic of Iran, et al, say they are victims of terrorism from Iran, Syria and North Korea, and want control of country codes for each country (.IR, .SY, and .KP plus a couple IDN versions).

ICANN’s Motion to Quash argues that “country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD) are part of a single, global interoperable Internet which ICANN serves to help maintain…ccTLD’s are not property, and are not ‘owned’ or ‘possessed’ by anyone including ICANN, and therefore cannot be seized in a lawsuit.”

ICANN’s general response was predictable.

Make no mistake — a ruling to the contrary would be devastating for the domain name system. One of the biggest threats to web is a splintering of the internet caused by governments upset that the U.S. government has too much control over the internet.

That’s a big part of the reason the U.S. government plans to end its role in the IANA contract for name delegation. It bothers other governments that the U.S. government has a sort of “veto power”.

While few people may be sympathetic to the three countries at issue, taking over their ccTLDs would be a horrible precedent that would throw the entire internet ecosystem into disarray.

It’s worth noting that gTLDs are a different matter. They are being treated like property and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them used as payment to settle legal issues in the future.

About those .io domain names…

Few tech startups understand the origins of their clever domain names.

David Meyer of Gigaom published a story this morning titled “The dark side of .io: How the U.K. is making web domain profits from a shady Cold War land deal.”

The story explains the country code top level domain name nature of .io and the history of its people. Technically, .io is for British Indian Ocean Territory, and the money flows to the British government.

The article is likely to be an eye opener for some of the tech firms using .io. Not just because of Meyer’s angle on how the people of the islands got screwed, but that the domain name stands for a location.

Country code domain names have become quite popular in the past decade. Some have risen to popularity as they’ve been commercialized (e.g. .tv, .me, .co). Others have become popular because they’re catchy (e.g. .ly, .io).

Few people realize the origins of these domains. I suspect that people would have been much more concerned with funding the government of Muammar Gaddafi than funneling money to the UK government for islands involved in a land deal that displaced a small number of inhabitants.

That’s not to mention the real threat owners of these domains faced during the Arab Spring.

If nothing else, I hope Meyer’s article opens up peoples’ eyes to the origins of their domain names.

Matt Cutts releases new video about using ccTLDs for generic purposes

Cutts explains when Google decides to make a ccTLD global.

Google’s SEO/Webspam leader Matt Cutts has released a new video about using a country code top level domain name for a website not targeted to that country.

His message is the same that Google has been giving for many years, but he added some more color about how the company decides what should become generic.

Google makes some domains globally targeted because they’ve been widely adopted for global use rather than country use. .Co and .TV are examples.

What if you want to use .li for Long Island or .ky for Kentucky?

Cutts said you probably shouldn’t get ahead of yourself.

For .li, the country code for Liechtenstein, Cutts said they looked into it and found that the domain is widely used in Liechtenstein. Thus, it wouldn’t be right to give it a global meaning.

He also gave .ky (Cayman) as an example.

Here are the ccTLDs Google treats as generics (as of today): .ad, .as, .bz, .cc, .cd, .co, .dj, .fm, .io, .la, .me, .ms, .nu, .sc, .sr, .su, .tv, .tk, .ws.

Note that .ly, a popular extension that belongs to Libya, is not on the list.

.GD is another wake up call to tech firms about ccTLDs

Does the term “shadow registry” concern you? It should if you own a .gd domain name.

Over the past few years startups and tech darlings have increasingly embraced “cute” ccTLDs and domain hacks that include ccTLDs.

A key example is bitly.

Bitly, which created millions of shortened URLs at, found out that using a ccTLD is not necessarily the safest thing to do. .Ly is the country code for Libya. With everything that happened in Libya over the past couple years, there was significant risk with using a .ly domain name.

Sometimes it’s not political strife that should cause ccTLD owners to worry. It’s mismanagement.

ccTLDs aren’t operated with the same scrutiny as gTLDs. Consider .GD for Grenada, which has been in a state of flux for several months.

Grenada’s National Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has delegated the operation of .GD to KSregistry GmbH. KSregistry, a subsidiary of Key-Systems, was the technical backend for previous registry provider AdamsNames, so this should be an easy transition. Right?

Not necessarily. In KSregistry’s press release today, it states:

Discrepancies in the registration data may result from the operation of a shadow registry by a third party that had partial control of the .GD zone from March 8 to May 1, 2013. While the .GD zone is frozen, no registrations, modifications, transfers, deletions or renewals can be made until the zone file has been fully reviewed and confirmed as valid and complete…

Can you imagine if you were running a business on .gd? A bet you’d have a lot of sleepless nights.

Before starting a business on a ccTLD, business owners need to scrutinize its history and management. In the case of .gd, the technical provider is respected. The problem was on the management side.

Commercialized ccTLDs that have significant backing should be OK. Small, locally run ccTLDs deserve more scrutiny.