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Buying domain names - 12/2000

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Have you ever tried to obtain a domain name in Belgium? If you have tried as a company, you know how time consuming and costly it was. If you have tried on behalf of a company, you know how difficult it was explaining to your client why such a small matter involved so much effort. And if you haven't, you're pretty lucky because new rules will greatly facilitate domain name registrations in Belgium.

Registering domain names under the .be country-code top-level domain in Belgium is finally evolving from a convoluted, complex and protracted procedure to a simple straightforward .com-style registration.

Earlier this year, the board of NIC Belgium elected to liberalize the .be domain space by adopting the following six principles:

1. Abandonment of the compulsory association between the name of the company and the domain name.

2. Permissibility of registration of domain names by individuals.

3. Establishment of competition through the creation of a network of registrars to meet demand for registration.

4. Simplification of registration through acceptance of internet-processed orders and lower information and documentation requirements.

5. Availability of multiple domain name registrations by one entity.

6. Permissibility of registration of generic domain names.

The new rules will overturn the previous system's discrimination against foreign companies and individuals.

Remains of the past persist, however: domain names remain non-transferable. Thus, direct, straightforward sales of domain names are prohibited and impossible. It appears that such a policy is not based on an economic or social rationale but on a bureaucratic fear of losing control over domain names. As with the French rules, in order for a person or a company to sell a domain name it 'owns' it must cancel it and hope that no one registers it before the buyer applies for registration.