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Name.Space.Info: News.Com: Playing domain name hide-and-seek (fwd)

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 01:43:28 -0400
From: Name.Space.Info <>
Subject: News.Com: Playing domain name hide-and-seek
To: nettime <>

Playing domain name hide-and-seek

Dan Goodin
6/30/1999 08:10 AM,4,84-38576,00.html?

The entry of a new player in the registration of the most popular forms of
Internet addresses is creating confusion about how to tell whether a given
domain name is still available, and if not, who owns it. 

Back when Network Solutions was the only game in town, the task of
establishing domain ownership involved a simple trip to the company's
Whois database, which showed the creation date, contacts, and other
information for every domain name ending in ".com," ".net," and ".org." 

But now that has begun selling domains under a shared
registration system, NSI's Whois is no longer the authoritative place to
find out whether a domain name has been taken. 

When inquiring about a domain name sold by, NSI's database
simply displays the message: "No match for [domain name]." The process
could become even more complicated within the next few months, when more
than three dozen additional domain registrars are scheduled to come

To provide information about all domain names, NSI in April established
the NSI Registry, which contains a listing of every domain name registered
in the ".com," ".net," and ".org" space. The new database does not provide
contact information for a domain name, but it does list where the address
was registered so the user can get the information from that registrar's
Whois page. 

The confusion has sparked a new round of complaints among NSI critics, who
say the Herndon, Virginia, company did not do enough to simplify the
change or give the public prior notice about how the database would work
after came on board. 

"People are registering with and not getting updated into
NSI's Whois," said Paul Garrin, founder of Name.Space, which accused NSI
of violating antitrust laws in a 1997 lawsuit that recently was dismissed.
"This is causing problems." 

Specifically, Garrin said, his company and dozens of others use programs
that automatically connect to NSI's Whois to determine whether a domain
name is taken. The programs interpret a response that there is no match
for a given domain name as meaning that the address is still available.
With offering domain names, that frequently is not the case. 

But NSI spokesman Brian O'Shaughnessy said the new Whois site was
announced in an April 2 press release. As more registrars come online in
the coming months, he said, "each of them will maintain their own
registration Whois." 

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