Domainz under fire over .maori.nz name ownership

Domainz faces at least one legal challenge over its decision to revoke ownership of a number of new domain names registered in the new .maori.nz name space.

Domainz faces at least one legal challenge over its decision to revoke ownership of a number of new domain names registered in the new .maori.nz name space.

Domainz's system was unable to cope with registrations in the new second level domain (2LD) for at least the first hour of registration following .maori.nz being opened for business at 11am last Thursday (see Teething troubles for .maori.nz).

Domainz has always worked on a "first come first served" basis with domain names, however several registrars have told Domainz that they are unhappy they were unable to register names because of the system failure.

Domainz CEO Derek Locke says the company reviewed the time stamps on applications for domain names and will re-allocate the domain names accordingly, even if the application was rejected by the system outage.

"It's the fairest way, it's something we've always done. The outage was our fault and we've apologised for that and these companies shouldn't be penalised for that."

However two registrars have spoken to IDGNet expressing frustration that domain names they have registered are being taken off them.

Glen Craig, general manager of Taupo-based web technology firm Digithink says he's received legal advice that says Domainz has no authority to revoke his company's ownership of aotearoa.maori.nz or tourism.maori.nz.

"Our registrar told us a number of people tried to register aotearoa.maori.nz and didn't make it because we were there first. It's not acceptable that Domainz take it off us because of a failure on their part."

Craig says he will take legal action if Domainz re-assigns ownership of the names.

"Everyone's in the same boat here. We all applied for the names and that's all there is to it. It's first come, first served and that's us."

Craig says it's a dangerous precedent for Domainz to retroactively revoke ownership of a domain name, as it would open up the entire system to review.

"Domainz's own terms of service says any dispute over ownership should be between the two registrars and it won't become involved. That's not happening this time."

Craig Beecroft, manager of Auckland-based web hosting firm Interspeed, will also lose a number of names.

"If I submit a request for a name and something goes wrong between here and Domainz and I miss out, that's just life. I don't have recourse to complain to Domainz and get it re-allocated. We deal with registries all around the world and it happens that we miss out on names. That's just life."

Richard Shearer, director of registrar FreeParking, disagrees.

"Domainz has always said it's first come first served and date stamps are the only way to be sure of that. We've lost domain names as well but we've also gained some."

Shearer says the fault lies at Domainz's end of the process so should be rectified and he believes it's only fair that names are reassigned.

Beecroft meanwhile has called on the domain name commissioner Debbie Monahan to review the situation and Monahan says she will.

"I've asked Domainz to provide me with all information relating to the .maori.nz implementation and also a copy of any legal advice they've received relating to all this."

Monahan has also instructed Domainz not to transfer any names until she has sorted the issue out.

"I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later."

Breon Gravatt, solicitor in the Auckland office of Baldwin, Shelston and Waters, says there is a need for a dispute resolution policy beyond simply being "first come first served".

"If you get into a domain name dispute now you've either got to negotiate with the person who's got it or file court proceedings." That can be a costly business, says Gravatt.

Disputes over domain names are not uncommon and other registries around the world solve the problem in different ways.

"Domainz has always had the 'first come first served' policy and it's shared by most registrars around the world, but not all. In the US, for example, names in the .us space must meet certain requirements as well as being first listed. It takes longer and costs more but it means there are fewer disputes."

Gravatt says InternetNZ, which owns Domainz, is considering introducing a disputes resolution process.

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