In July 2021, Brisbane was confirmed as the Olympics 2032 host city. This exciting news has driven a surge in online attention for the Queensland capital, with Brisbane entering the top five trending Google searches in Australia on the day its Olympic bid was confirmed.
At auDA, we have also seen an increase in registrations for domain names containing the word (or variations of the word) ‘Olympics’. Many of these registrations, however, are not eligible.
While the Brisbane Olympics presents an enormous opportunity for the Australian economy, it is important that people can trust that ‘Olympic’ websites and email addresses using a .au domain name are for official Olympic purposes.
To prevent the misuse of specific domain names and maintain a high level of trust, restrictions are placed on certain .au domain names preventing them from being used by unofficial entities and/or to mislead Internet users.
These domain names are known as reserved names.
What are reserved names?
Reserved names are domain names that are not available for public registration. They are only able to be registered in certain circumstances according to strict criteria. As outlined in Section 2.6 of the .au Licensing Rules, there are three main reasons for a domain name to be listed as a reserved name:
- It contains a word, acronym or abbreviation that is restricted or prohibited under an Australian law
- It is a name or abbreviation of an Australian state or territory, including the word ‘Australia’
- It may pose a risk to the security, stability and integrity of the .au and global Domain Name System.
Why does this impact the Olympics?
The Olympics is an example of a reserved name. The Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987 restricts public registration of domain names for commercial purposes that include the words:
- Olympic Games
This means a member of the public is unable to register and use domain names such as 'BrissyOlympicGames.com.au' for commercial purposes. The protection also extends to alternate domain names that are close enough in similarity to the listed words that the alternate domain name is likely to be mistaken for a reserved name, preventing the registration of ‘BrisOlympicGames.net.au’ or ‘BrissiOlympics.com.au'.
Who can register reserved names?
According to the Licensing Rules, you can only register domain names on the reserved list if you:
- Are the statutory authority that the name has been restricted for
- Have Ministerial consent to use the name, or
- Are not captured by the relevant prohibition or law.
In the case of the Olympics, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is the only organisation that is freely able to register ‘Olympic’ related .au domains, allowing the public to be sure they are interacting with a trusted and official source of Olympic information.
The Olympics in 2032 is set to be an exciting time for Australians, and the reserved name rules are there to ensure that you can be confident the information you are accessing is coming from a trusted, gold-standard source.
For more information see here.