The Domain Name Commissioner (DNC) Debbie Monahan has reached a decision on the .maori.nz name ownership row, but has muddied the waters by claiming she has no jurisdiction over the matter yet.
When the new second level domain (2LD) .maori.nz was launched on September 5 the Domainz system was unable to process applications submitted via the Domainz email template. A number of names were hotly contested and those that missed out because of the processing error demanded a review of the ownership. Eventually the DNC was called in to adjudicate.
"The DNC's responsibility and jurisdiction to give any binding direction on Domainz doesn't arise until the launch of the [shared registry system] SRS [on October 14]," says Monahan, who has nonetheless come up with an opinion on the matter.
Monahan says Domainz is right to hand the names over to those parties that would have registered them first had the email template been working properly.
"Domainz offered two ways of hitting the register - through the email template and through the web. It was all meant to be handled automatically, however, the Domainz system blocked the email applications."
Monahan says because the problem was at Domainz's end, the applicants shouldn't be penalised and she would suggest Domainz work off the date stamps to determine which application was first received. Monahan says Domainz should also partially compensate those registrars that took legal advice over the matter.
One of those that did register a .maori.nz name and will subsequently lose it is Taupo-based Digithink. General manager Glen Craig says he won't be taking the matter further, mostly because of the cost of legal action.
"We think the ruling is fundamentally flawed in that they're comparing the end of our application [for the name] with the start of someone else's."
Craig says he will be looking to Domainz for his legal fees as suggested by the DNC and feels the whole process should be more robust. Craig says he would support the creation of some kind of dispute resolution that goes beyond simply "first come, first served".
FreeParking director Richard Shearer stands to gain a number of domain names that he tried to register via the email template.
"Obviously that's the answer we were expecting. If they decided it by any other means that would create a precedent that many domains may have to be tested on."
Shearer says he expects to see the domain names handed over shortly.
Monahan says the problem with the email registration template was a known problem at Domainz and the company should seriously consider changing its procedure.
"One of the issues I've highlighted is that the email template problem was known about shortly after the launch and that perhaps Domainz were a little bit slow in taking down the web interface as well."
Monahan says she expects the issue to be addressed so as not to impact on future domain name purchases.
Domainz chief executive Derek Locke was not immediately available for comment.