Web domains offer second chance for sites by ALAN
ZISMAN (c) 2001
First published in Business
Issue #623 October 2- 8, 2001: The High-tech Office column
To get to Business
in Vancouver's Web site you probably type www.biv.com
but there are, in reality, no such places on the Internet.
computer gets in touch with a domain name server to discover that both
of these are really human-friendly nicknames for the BIV Web
real Internet Protocol address: 184.108.40.206.
(You can type
that 12-digit number into your browser and get to the BIV's
a few micro-seconds faster.)
has it that there's a shortage of domain names, at least for the
.com domain. In fact, there isn't really a shortage of domain names,
the .com domain is running low on available short, easily
English words that can be registered for new Web sites. If you want to
register, say, www.qxr1485ymx.com, you won't have any problems.
More common words, however, are probably already taken.
You can quickly
check whether a word, name or phrase is available by using what's
a WhoIs service, available online at most domain registrars, such as
While many common
words are already registered, if you're prepared to settle for a longer
address many phrases remain available. For instance, www.plumber.com
is long gone, but www.jacktheplumber.com was available when I
(www.icann.net), the mysterious committee that operates behind
scenes to manage the Internet, is aware of the growing shortage of
snappy .com domain names. As a result, they've created seven new
top-level domains (TLDs), making Internet addresses ending with new
of letters instead of the familiar .com, .net, .org and .ca.
Most of these
new TLDs are restricted: you've got to be part of the museum community
to register a name ending in the new .museum. Individuals can use .name
for personal pages, co-ops get to use .coop and air transport
will have .aero while only certified professionals can use .pro
The .info TLD
is unrestricted, open to all comers. And .biz is proposed as a new TLD
for businesses worldwide.
with these new TLDs are just starting to come on-stream. Domain
services have been working with wannabe registrants in a multistep
For .biz, for example, potential registrants had until this past August
6 to file an intellectual property claim on a name. With this, you had
a chance to stake a claim to your trademarks. Following that,
could pre-register their desires until September 25, but with no
that they would get their pre-registered domain. On October 1, live
began. Assuming no intellectual property claims on a name,
get priority. If there are multiple pre-registrants for the same name,
one will be randomly selected. Hopefully this process will eliminate
of the disputes that we've seen in the past.
This does leave
holders of existing .com names in a bit of a quandary, however. If you
have been doing business using, say, www.jacktheplumber.com,
you also register www.jacktheplumber.biz? If someone else does,
are you risking confusing (and possibly losing) your customers?
And, of course,
if all the current holders of .com domain names simply go out and get
same .biz names, then even the additional TLDs won't add many new free
As for me, I
registered www.zisman.ca, on
the Canadian top level domain. www.zisman.com is registered by Lotus
vice-president Michael Zisman (no relation), who also grabbed www.zisman.org,
while www.zisman.net is
by a Dallas law firm, also no relation. I just discovered that www.zisman.info
and www.zisman.biz are still up for grabs, but I think I'll
them for anyone else who has a use for them.