The new rules for the .au country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), which come into effect on 12 April 2021, contain a range of changes that will affect the monetisation of .au domain names.
‘Domain monetisation’ broadly refers to the practice of registering a domain name licence to generate revenue from advertising on a website associated with the domain name.
Domain monetisation is allowed in the com.au and net.au namespaces within the .au country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), but must be undertaken in accordance with the rules.
When the new rules will apply
The new .au licensing rules come into effect on 12 April 2021. Domain names created, transferred or renewed on or after this date will be subject to the new licensing rules.
If your domain name licence expires after 12 April 2021 the rules in place at the time you registered, or last renewed your domain name licence will apply until the end of the current licence period. If that licence is renewed, the new licensing rules will apply to it as the new licence is only created once the current one expires.
Monetisation under the new .au licensing rules
Domain monetisation is still only allowed in the com.au and net.au namespaces.
To register a name for monetisation, registrants simply need to meet the eligibility and allocation requirements for the com.au or net.au name they wish to register or renew.
Under the previous rules there was an exception which allowed com.au/net.au domain names to be registered for the purpose of monetisation, provided the name wasn’t a name/brand/entity that already existed, and resolved to a website that met specific content requirements.
This exception has now been removed. As long the eligibility and allocation rules are met, registrants can monetise a domain name, or transfer a com.au/net.au domain name licence to another eligible registrant.
You can register com.au/net.au domain names licenses for the purpose of transferring them to another registrant
Under the new rules a registrant who meets the eligibility and allocation criteria can register a com.au or net.au domain name licence for the sole purpose of transferring it to another registrant who also meets the eligibility criteria. This was prohibited under the previous rules.
Leasing or sub-licensing of .au domain names is prohibited under the new rules.
What to do if these changes affect you
The changes to the rules may impact domain name investors who do not meet the new allocation criteria for com.au or net.au domain name licences they hold.
To ensure you remain eligible to hold your domain name you may need to update the basis on which your name meets the allocation criteria.
While you will need to assess what is best for your own circumstances, you may wish to register a matching business name to ensure you meet the allocation criteria.
Domain name investors should review the allocation criteria set out in clause 2.4.4 of the new licensing rules.
If you wish to rely on your domain name being a match or synonym of the name of a service you provide, you will need to be able to describe the service that you provide, supply the name of that service, and demonstrate that you provide the service under that name.