Domain names demystified

Mar 12, 2008

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Pizza.com recently sold for $2.6m; but I just want a domain for my business. Should I get a dot com or a dot ie or both. What are domains all about.

Basically a Domain Name is a name which points to a website. So for instance www.mywebsite.com or www.yourwebpage.ie etc. The www part of the website is standard but sometimes there may be ‘Subdomains’ e.g. shop.yourwebsite.com or forum.mywebsite.ie. The holder of the registered domain mywebsite.com would have sole rights to use any subdomains and this would be worked out with their hosting company. Similarly they could set up email addresses on this domain — me@mywebsite.ie, info@mywebsite.ie, your.name@yourwebsite.com, etc.

Top level domains. Names ending in dot com are ‘top level domains’. Other examples of top level domains are .net .org. info and .biz.

Country specific domains. ‘Dot ie’ or .co.uk as an ending instead of dot com refer to ‘country specific domains’ and are the domains for the island of Ireland and for the U.K. respectively. There is a domain for every country in the world.

Each domain name is unique. This means that there can be only one mywebsite.com and one mywebsite.ie etc. If you wanted mywebsite.com and someone else had it first then you could either try to purchase it from them ( probably expensive ) or else settle for other versions, for instance mywebsite.net or my-web-site.com. It is also worth noting that one owner may own the dot com and another the dot ie of the same name.

Not every domain can be registered by anyone. Dot com domains and some other top level domains can be registered by any person or business in the world. However to register a dot ie domain, for example, you must provide the registrar with proof that you have a legitimate claim to the address. This is normally not a problem especially if it is a similar name to your business. E.g. flanneryspub.ie.

The Irish domain registrar is now allowing registration of personal domain names so you can register joesoap.ie etc.

Domains are on a first come, first served basis. If you own a grocery shop called “Joes”; you have no inherent right to joesfishshop.com, ie, etc.

Cybersquating. It is possible for individuals to buy the domain of a company or organisation …. A famous case of this is the domain whitehouse.com which was owned by a private individual who used it for his own purposes. A legal case ensued.

Fees and expiry. Domain names fees are payable usually on a yearly basis and failure to renew your domain name can result in loss of the domain.

Costs. Typically domain names are not expensive. However many of the highly desirable name have been registered at this stage. High profile domain names can reach very high price. Chris Clark, who paid $20 for “Pizza.com” recently raked in $2.6 million from it’s auction in early 2008.

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