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Domain Name Craze: Digital Vanity Plates Will Cost a Fortune

If your name is Joe Smith and you're a plumber, soon you may be able to claim the Web address www.joesmith.plumber as your very own thanks to a change made Monday to the Internet's ruling Domain Name System. There are a couple of catches, though —  It'll cost you $185,000 just to apply, and the application form is several hundred pages long.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as ICANN, is the organization that regulates the world's Internet domain names. It approved changes to the way websites are named that will allow anyone to register any name they like in almost any language. The rules will dramatically increase the number of Internet domain name endings — known as generic top-level domains like the familiar .com, .org and .net suffixes we have today — from the current 22 to a virtually infinite number.

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The reason for the expansion is the shortage of dot-com addresses, which has left a number of large and small companies out in the cold when it comes to having a Web address that reflects their business name.

"ICANN has opened the Internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination," Rod Beckstrom, the organization's CEO and president, said in a statement. "Today's decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language and script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all mankind."

The change came after years of discussion, debate and deliberation. In the process, the proposed rules went through seven significant revisions to incorporate more than 1,000 comments from the public. ICANN said its goal was to address the concerns of all interested parties.

But not everyone is happy. GoDaddy.com, which registers domain names and hosts websites, says the sizeable ICANN application fee could scare away smaller businesses .

ICANN said its fee is based on the estimated cost of processing the applications, including possible litigation involving name disputes and other contingencies.

In addition to the $185,000 application fee, domain owners will also be required to pay a yearly fee to ICANN of around $25,000.

ICANN will accept applications for the new domain names from Jan. 12 to April 12 next year.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.



Ned Smith
Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.