.com

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Dotcom.JPG
Status: Active
Manager: Verisign
Registry Provider: Verisign
Registrations: 100 million+
Date Implemented: 1985
Type: gTLD

.com is one of the first TLDs to be used on the Internet's Domain Name System; it was originally intended for commercial purposes, though there are no current restrictions limiting it to commercial entities. It was introduced in 1985 by IANA, which is responsible for the overall coordination and management of the DNS; the organization was led by Jon Postel at the time. On January 28, 1986, the entities overseeing the DNS met and restructured its makeup to correspond to 8 TLDs, including .com, the others are: .gov (government), .edu (American higher education), .mil (American military), .org (organization), .int (international, specifically NATO relations), .net (sites related to the Internet itself), .bitnet (computers on the BITNET network).[1][2]

.com is the most popular gTLD with more than 100 million registrants worldwide. The global demand for the .com gTLD remains strong as the number of global Internet users continues to grow.[3] Verisign is the registry operator of the .com gTLD, and was approved by ICANN in 2006.[4]

In October 2011, Verisign's registry passed the 100 million mark for number of .com domains under management.[5] By the end of quarter 2 of 2012, Verisign had 240 million domain names over all of the TLDs it operates, with .com and .net holding 49% of the TLD market share, a drop of 2% from quarter 1.[6]

Verisign has been running .com and .net with 100% operational accuracy and stability for more than 15 years.[7]

History

The .com gTLD, along with the other original TLDs, was first administered by the United States Department of Defense under the Defense Advance Advance Research Project Agency, which was first implemented in 1985. The Network Information Center, which was run by SRI International, was the first assigned registrar and administrator of the first domain names.[8] NIC was responsible for registering and hosting the domain names,[9] as well as administering the IP addresses.[10]

On October 1, 1991, the administration of the .com and all the TLDs was transfered to Government Systems, Inc..[11] It assumed all of SRI's service responsibilities, such as domain name registration, online informations services and help desk operations, as well as RFC and Internet-Draft archive and distribution services. The Internet registration services were provided by Defense Information System Agency (DISA) NIC, which was also operated by Government Systems Inc.[11] This task was sub-contracted by GSI to Network Solutions (NSI).

The legislation of the Scientific and Advanced Technology Act in 1992 gave an expanded mandate to the National Science Foundation (NSF). This is a statutory body, which supports and strengthens basic scientific research, engineering, and educational activities in the United States, including the maintenance of computer networks used to connect research and educational institutions. It assumed the responsibility of coordinating and funding the management of the non-military portion of Internet infrastructure, pursuant to the High-Performance Computing Act which was legislated on December 9, 1991.

In 1993, NSF and NSI entered a five-year cooperative agreement, which appointed NSI as the sole provider of domain name registrations for the .com, .net, and .org gTLDs.[12] In 2000, Network Solutions was acquired by Verisign,[13] which retained NSI's registry business.

Verisign is the current registry operator of the .com gTLD.[14]

.com Boom

The first .com registration was for Symbolics.com on March 15, 1985. Two-and-a-half years later, there were still only 100 names registered in .com. In 1992, there were less than 15,000 .coms, and the million-domain mark was crossed in 1997; however, the following two years were known as the ".com boom", when about 20 million domains were registered. This was an exciting but also turbulent time, as many domainers believed the best way to make money was through newfound methods of trademark infringement, known as cybersquatting. Processes to reverse and punish registrations made by third-party registrants not associated with a person or trademark that is referenced in the domain were eventually developed, such as the UDRP. An early and well-known dispute over a domain includes the legal battle over madonna.com between the famous performer and an unassociated web-developer.[15] The boom eventually leveled off, though steady growth in the .com namespace continued. Some believe that the .com boom initiated the era of scarcity for quality .com names, and fueled the high-value aftermarket for domain names, but domains for currently popular websites, such as youtube.com and twitter.com, were registered years after the boom ended.[16]

25 Years of .com

An informational video on the growth of the Internet since .com was introduced, produced in 2010:


Verisign had a number of events, forums, contests and awards planned for the 25th anniversary of .com in 2010. These included awards to 25 people and companies recognized for influencing the .com namespace and the Internet as a whole, and a Washington D.C.-based Policy Impact Forum featuring Bill Clinton, Rod Beckstrom, Arianna Huffington, Ken Silva, and others. Verisign unveiled details for four $75,000 research grants at its San Francisco event, which also featured then CEO Mark McLaughlin and ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush.[17]

Registry Agreement

The dropping of the aforementioned litigation between Verisign and ICANN cleared the way for the renewal of the .com registry agreement from 2005 through 2012.[18] The agreement and its appendices can be viewed via the ICANN site here.

In March 2012, ICANN posted a proposal for Verisign's potential renewal of the 2006 .com registry agreement.[19] Three months later, in June 2012, the ICANN Board went against community suggestions to approve Verisign's .com registry agreement for an additional seven years after its expiration on November 30th, 2012. According to the ICANN decision, Verisign would've also been allowed to increase its registry fee by 7% in four out of the next seven years,[20] but this decision was changed by the Department of Commerce. Nonetheless, the new policy will result in Verisign paying ICANN a $0.25 fee for every .com registration, renewal, or transfer, instead of the lump sums it paid previously, potentially netting ICANN an additional $8 million in revenue annually.[21][22] The original board resolutions can be viewed here.

In August 2012, three of ICANN's Constituencies (ALAC, GNSO Business Constituency, GNSO Intellectual Property Constituency) sent a letter to ICANN complaining that the organization held its renewal talks with Verisign behind closed doors and the result is that there are no Thick Whois requirements for the .com TLD.[23] The decision could not move forward without approval from the Department of Commerce, which Verisign received on November 29th, 2012.[22][24]

Verisign is to serve as the registry operator for .com from December 2012 through November 2018, with new terms and conditions, including:

  • Verisign's current pricing of $7.85 per domain name registration will remain unchanged for the next six years;
  • Verisign no longer holds the right to increasing prices up to seven percent over the six-year term, and all new price increases will be circumstantial and subject to Commerce Department approval.[24]

Those who benefit most from the prize freeze include consumers, those who purchase .com domain names in bulk, brand owners who maintain expensive defensive registrations, and registrars who no longer need to pass on cost increases to their consumers.[25]

"Consumers will benefit from Verisign's removal of the automatic price increases," said Larry Strickling of NTIA. "At the same time, the agreement protects the security and stability of the Internet by allowing Verisign to take cost-based price increases where justified."[26]

If ICANN's new gTLD program becomes successful and "market power" is removed from .com's, Verisign believes that all price caps on .com's could be lifted as early as 2014.[27]

.Com Domain Space

List of Earliest Registered .Com Domain Names

The first .com domain to be registered was Symbolics.com, others include:[28]

  • Symbolics.com - March 15, 1985
  • BBN.com - April 24, 1985
  • Think.com - May 24, 1985
  • MCC.com - July 11, 1985
  • DEC.com - September 30, 1985
  • Northrop.com - May 24, 1985
  • Xerox.com - Jan. 9, 1986
  • SRI.com - Jan. 17, 1986
  • HP.com - May 3, 1986
  • Bellcore.com - March 5, 1986
  • IBM.com - March 19, 1986
  • Sun.com - March 19, 1986
  • Intel.com - March 25, 1986
  • TI.com - March 25, 1986
  • ATT.com - April 25, 1986
  • GMR.com - May 8, 1986
  • TEK.com - May 8, 1986
  • FMC.com - July 10, 1986
  • UB.com - July 10, 1986
  • Bell-ATL.com - August 5, 1986
  • GE.com - August 5, 1986

Premium .Com Domain Names

The strong demand for .com names and their scarcity has resulted in a significant increase in the value for premium domains on the aftermarket, with certain domains costing millions of dollars. Some of the most expensive domain names that were sold under the .com domain name space include:[29]

  • Insure.com- purchased by QuinStreet for $16 million in 2009
  • Sex.com - purchased by Clover Holdings Ltd for $14 million in 2006
  • Fund.com- sold to Fund.com Inc for $9.99 million in 2008
  • Porn.com- sold by Moniker for $9.5 million in 2007
  • Business.com - sold to Jake Winebaum and Sky Dayton for $7.5 million in 1999
  • Diamond.com- bought by Ice.com for $7.5 million in 2006
  • Beer.com- sold for $7 million in 2004
  • Israel.com- Sold for $5.88 million in 2004 to undisclosed buyer
  • Casino.com- sold for $5.5 million in 2003
  • Toys.com- purchased by Toys ‘R Us for $5.1 million in 2009

Controversial .com Domain Names

Sex.com

Sex.com has historically been one of the most controversial domain names on the Internet, and the drama involved has provided enough fodder for at least two separate books to be written on the topic.[30] It was first registered through Network Solutions in 1994 by Gary Kremen. The ownership of the sex.com was transfered by NSI to Stephen Cohen in 1995 when he submitted forged ownership transfer documents to Network Solutions. Kremen accused Network Solutions of negligent transfer and filed charges against Cohen demanding the return sex.com and the profits accumulated by the site.[31]

In 2001, US District Judge James Ware ruled in favor of Kremen and directed Cohen to pay $65 million in lost revenue and damages to Cohen.[32] Cohen ignored the court order and became a fugitive, and so a warrant was issued for his arrest. Kremen offered a $50,000 reward for Cohen's arrest.[33]

In 2004, Kremen and Verisign agreed to settle their legal battle out of court for an undisclosed amount after the court of appeals ruled that Network Solutions was held liable for the negligence of transferring the sex.com domain to Cohen without verifying if the transfer was made by the true owner.[34] The settlement was thought to be worth around $20 million.[35]

Cohen was finally turned over to U.S. authorities on October 27th, 2005. He had spent 6 years on the lam, hiding in Mexico and siphoning his money to offshore accounts via a system of shell companies. He was first apprehended by Mexican authorities on grounds of immigration violations. Cohen had been considered a fugitive by the U.S. Justice Department since May, 2001.[36]

The domain was later sold for $11.5 million to Michael Mann, and his company Escom;[37][38] he later filed for bankruptcy and the sale of sex.com was announced and cancelled at least once.[39] He then sold it though an auction with Sedo for $13 million to Clover Holdings.[40]

Races.com

Another controversial domain name was races.com, which was bought for thousands of dollars by MBA student John McLanahan. Network Solutions mismanaged the transfer of races.com and inadvertently put it on the available list. SportWorld Ltd, a domain name speculator registered the domain name through Register.com, a competing registrar; Network Solutions had no authority to make Register.com return the domain. SportWorld Ltd. advertised races.com for $500,000. John McLanahan suffered the loss of payment and received no compensation, other than an apology from Network Solutions.[41]

Overcrowding of .Com Domain Space

.com is the most popular and widely registered top level domain name by internet users worldwide. In 2000, there were more than 20 million registered names under the .com domain name space.[42] The overcrowding of the .com domain space has resulted in difficulties for users to find appealing domain names. This led to a proposal from the Internet community to create new gTLDs to solve the problem. On April 18-19, 2000, during the ICANN Yokohama meeting, the DNSO Names Council proposed the implementation of new TLDs to promote competition in the domain name registration business, enhance the utility of the DNS, and increase the available number of domain names.[43] On November 16, 2000, ICANN approved seven new gTLDs which include .biz, .info, .name, .pro, .museum, .aero and .coop to ease up the exhaustion of the .com and the .net domain space. Further expansion of available gTLDs is expected to be authorized at ICANN's 2011 meeting in Singapore.

U.S. Seizures of Domain Names

The U.S. government has stated that because .com's registry operator, Verisign, is based in the United States, it has the right to seize any .com domain names at any time. The government goes straight to the registry in cases where the domain name is foreign, as foreign registrars are not required to comply with U.S. law. By early 2012, the government had seized 750 domain names like this, most registered through foreign registrars. Usually, the domain names are redirected at the DNS level to a U.S. government IP address that informs visitors that the site has been seized. Recently Bodog.com was targeted because federal law in the United States makes it illegal to offer online sports wagering and to payoff online bets, although online gambling isn’t illegal globally. The domain name was registered through a Canadian registrar, but the United States closed the site without any intervention from Canadian authorities or companies.[44]

References

  1. RFC 920, IETF.org. Published 1984 October.
  2. IW DNS name, LivingInternet.com.
  3. Domain Name Registry, VerisignInc.com.
  4. .com Registry Agreement, ICANN.org. Published 22 September 10.
  5. Com Passed 100 Million Mark in October, DomainIncite.com. Published 2 Februart 2012.
  6. Verisign's Dropping .com And .net Is A Troubling Trend, Trefix.com. Published 3 October 2012.
  7. Domain Names, VerisignInc.com.
  8. RFC 920, RFC-Editor.org.
  9. SRI International
  10. RFC 1020, RFC-Editor.org.
  11. 11.0 11.1 RFC 1261, ArmWare.dk.
  12. NSI-NSF Cooperative Agreement, Archive.org.
  13. Network Solutions History, NetworkSoutions.com.
  14. .com Registry Agreement
  15. Madona 1 Cybersquatter, CNN.com. Published 16 October 2000.
  16. 25years, 25yearsof.com.
  17. 25yearsof.com
  18. Verisign ICANN deal, TheRegister.co.uk. Puhed 25 October 2005.
  19. .com Registry Agreement Renewal, ICANN.org.
  20. ICANN gives Verisign’s .com contract the nod, DomainIncite.com. Published 25 June 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  21. ICANN to get $8 million more from new .com deal, DomainIncite.com. Published 27 July 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  22. 22.0 22.1 US probing Verisign price hikes, .com contract may be extended, DomainIncite.com. Published 25 October 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  23. Constituencies Blast ICANNs Closed Door Verisign Com Contract Renewal, DomainNameWire.com
  24. 24.0 24.1 Verisign Announces US Department of Commerce Approval of Newly Revised .com Registry Agreement, Verisign.com. Published 30 November 2012.
  25. Winners and losers in the new .com pricing regime, DomainIncite.com. Published 30 November 2012.
  26. Department of Commerce Approves Verisign-ICANN .com Registry Renewal Agreement, NTIA.doc.gov. Published 30 November 2012.
  27. Verisign: If New gTLD’s Are Successful We Might Be Able To Lift All Price Caps On .Com’s, TheDomains.com. Published 30 November 2012.
  28. Whois oldest .com domains
  29. Most Expensive .Com Domain Names
  30. DomainNameNews.com
  31. Kremen vs. Cohen
  32. Sex.com owner wins $65 million damages
  33. $50,000 Reward for the Man who Stole SEx.com
  34. Kremen & Verisign Settlement Agreement
  35. TheRegister.co.uk
  36. The Register.co.uk
  37. DomainNameNews.com
  38. Sedo.com
  39. News.TechWorld.com
  40. Namemon.com
  41. Races.com
  42. NYTimes.com
  43. www.icann.org
  44. Uncle Sam: If It Ends in .Com, It’s .Seizable, wired.com