Domain name

A domain name is the unique name of a computer on the Internet that distinguishes it from the other systems on the network. They are sometimes colloquially (and incorrectly) referred to by marketers as "web addresses".

Every website, email account, etc, on the Internet is hosted on at least one computer (server). Each server has a unique IP address which is nothing but a set of numbers, such as "" . To access a particular internet service, one can specify its IP address in an appropriate application, such as an FTP client; however because it is difficult to remember numbers, an IP address can be associated with a fully qualified host name (a domain name), such as "". Domain names also provide a persistent address for some service when it is necessary to move to a different server, which would have a different IP address.

Each set of letters and numbers between the dots is called a label in parlance of the domain name service (DNS). There are some rules about the size and make up of labels. Each must start with a letter or number, and then may be made up of letters, numbers, and hyphens, to a maximum of 63 characters. These are the rules imposed by the way names are looked up ("resolved") by DNS. Some top level domains (see below) impose more rules, like a minimum length, on some labels. Fully qualified names are sometimes written with a final dot.

Translating numeric addresses to alphabetical ones, domain names allow Internet users to localize and visit websites. Additionally since more than one IP address can be assigned to a domain name, and more than one domain name assigned to an IP address, one server can have multiple roles, and one role can be spread among multiple servers.



The following examples illustrates the difference between a URL and a domain name:

Server name:
Domain name:
Subdomain: www
Domain: example
Top level domain: com

As a general rule, the IP address and the server name are interchangeable. For most internet services, the server will not have any way to know which was used. The big exception to this is for web addresses. The explosion of interest in the web means that there are far more websites than servers. To accommodate this the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) specifies that the client tells the server which name is being used. This way one server, with one IP address, can provide different sites for different domain names.

For example, the server at handles all of the following sites:

Top-level domains

Every domain name ends in a top-level domain (TLD) name, which is always either one of a small list of general names, or a ISO-3166 two character country code.

Examples of (gTLD) extensions are:

Examples of country code top-level domain (ccTLD) extensions are:

Official assignment

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has overall responsibility for managing the DNS. It controls the root domain, delegating control over each top-level domain to a domain name registry. For ccTLDs, the domain registry is typically controlled by the government of that country. ICANN has a consultation role in these domain registries but is in no position to regulate the terms and conditions and the operations of how a domain name is allocated or who allocates it in each of these country level domain registries. Since generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are governed directly under ICANN, all terms and conditions are defined by ICANN with the cooperation of the gTLD registries.

Domain names which are theoretically leased can be considered in the same way as real estate, due to a significant impact on online brand building, advertising, search engine optimization, etc.

Generic domain names — problems arising out of unregulated name selection

Within a particular top-level domain, parties are generally free to select an unallocated domain name as their own. For generic or commonly used names, this may sometimes lead to the use of a domain name which is inaccurate or misleading. This problem can be seen with regard to the ownership or control of domain names for a generic product or service.

By way of illustration, there has been tremendous growth in the number and size of literary festivals around the world in recent years. In this context, currently a generic domain name such as is available to the first literary festival organisation which is able to obtain registration, even if the festival in question is very young or obscure. Some critics would argue that there is greater amenity in reserving such domain names for the use of, for example, a regional or umbrella grouping of festivals. Related issues may also arise in relation to non-commercial domain names.

Commercial resale of domain names

An economic effect of the widespread usage of domain names has been the resale market of generic domain names that has sprung up in the last decade. Certain domains, especially those related to business, gambling, pornography, and other commercially lucrative fields have become very much in demand to corporations and entrepreneurs due to their intrinsic value in attracting clients. For example, the domain name was stolen from its rightful owner by means of a forged transfer instruction. During the height of the dot-com era, the domain was earning millions of dollars per month in advertising revenue from the large influx of visitors that arrived daily. Two long-running US lawsuits resulted, one against the thief and one against the domain registrar VeriSign.

One of the reasons for the value of domain names is that even without advertising or marketing, they attract clients seeking services and products. Furthermore, generic domain names such as or are extremely easy for potential customers to remember, increasing the probability that they become repeat customers or regular clients.

Although the current domain market is nowhere as strong as it was during the dot-com heyday, it remains quite strong. Annually tens of millions of dollars change hands due to the resale of domains.

United Arab Emirates based company Serenade Ltd. is an example of 'wharehousing' thousands of domain names for future profit. The masquerade "World News Network" standardized news gathering array is presented as the main page on each of thier thousands of sites. Numerous lawsuits have been mounted by individuals, small business, and even local government to gain control of domain names. All of which have failed. Google "Serenade Ltd" ( and see for yourself. This organisation appears to be closley tied to OPEC or some barge rental firm. All the news comes from Reuters and the like, and no company details are found easily on any of the sites. Sites include

See also

External links

  • ICANN ( - Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
  • UDRP (, Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy.
  • (, public information regarding Internet domain name registration services.
  • CircleID (, Community discussions on TLDs and Internet infrastructure.
  • (, a watchdog group that publishes ICANN-related news and articles.
  • Guide Book ( - Buying and Selling Domain Names

ca:Domini d'internet cs:Internetová doména fr:Nom de domaine hu:Tartomnynv is:Internetln ja:ドメイン名 nl:Domeinnaam


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