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RFC (informational status)

A Legal Basis for Domain Name Allocation. O. Vaughan. November 1997. RFC2240. (Format: TXT=13602 bytes) (Obsoleted by RFC2352) (Status: INFORMATIONAL) (DOI: 10.17487 / RFC2240)

 Network Working Group                                         O. Vaughan
Request for Comments: 2240                           Vaughan Enterprises
Category: Informational                                    November 1997
               A Legal Basis for Domain Name Allocation
Status of this Memo
   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.
Copyright Notice
   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1997).  All Rights Reserved.
Table of Contents
   1.   Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
   2.   Overview of the domain space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
   3.   Possible solutions to name exhaustion  . . . . . . . . . . . 3
   4.   Proposed creation of new SLDs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
   4.1   The world is not flat so why should domains be? . . . . . . 4
   4.2   The case for legal names  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
   4.3   Allocation of legal SLDs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
   4.4   Allocation of miscellaneous SLDs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
   4.5   Identifiers in non-ASCII languages  . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
   5.   Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
   6.   References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
   7.   Authors' Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
   8.   Full Copyright Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1.  Introduction
   The purpose of this memo is to focus discussion on the particular
   problems with the exhaustion of the top level domain space in the
   Internet and the possible conflicts that can occur when multiple
   organisations are vying for the same name. No proposed solutions in
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RFC 2240                 Domain Name Allocation            November 1997
   this document are intended as standards for the Internet. Rather, it
   is hoped that a general consensus will emerge as to the appropriate
   solution to such problems, leading eventually to the adoption of
2.  Overview of the domain space
   Presently the domain space is organised as a heirarchical tree-
   structured namespace with several top level domains (TLDs), and sub-
   domains beneath them. The initial TLDs allocated and rationale are
   documented in [1].
   The TLDs are functionally split up into 'generic' top-level domains
   (gTLDs) and two-letter ISO 3166 country domains for every country in
   which Internet connectivity is provided. The allocation of sub-
   domains under these TLDs is entirely up to the registry for that TLD.
   The registry may decide to allocate further levels of structure or
   merely allocate domains in a 'flat' manner.
           +-----+         +----+                       +----+
           | COM |         | UK |                       | FR |
           +-----+         +----+                       +----+
              |             |  |                         |  |
       +---------+     +----+  +----+     +--------------+  +-----+
       | VAUGHAN |     | AC |  | CO |     | UNIV-AVIGNON |  | AXA |
       +---------+     +----+  +----+     +--------------+  +-----+
          |              |        |              |             |
      +------+    +---------+  +----------+   +-----+      +------+
      | UNIX |    | NEWPORT |  | CITYDESK |   | SOL |      | MAIL |
      +------+    +---------+  +----------+   +-----+      +------+
                       |            |
                    +----+       +-----+
                    | NS |       | FTP |
                    +----+       +-----+
    1. Flat gTLD     2. Heirarchical country      3. Flat country
   In the example we see that the gTLDs are inherently flat, as
   organisations are allocated domain names directly under the TLD.
   With the country domains however, the domain allocation policy can
   vary widely from country to country, and it does. Some may choose to
   implement a functional sub-structure mirroring the gTLDs, some may
   choose to implement a geographical sub-structure, and some may choose
   to have no sub-structure at all.
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RFC 2240                 Domain Name Allocation            November 1997
   In the first case the organisation is clearly a commercial one, as it
   is allocatged under the "COM" TLD. However, there is no information
   as to the country the organisation is based in.  In the third case,
   we know that the organisation is based in France (FR), but without
   studying the actual organisation name we do not know what type of
   organisation it is.  In the second case, we know the country that
   both organisations are based in (UK), and by following the heirarchy,
   we can deduce that the first is an academic organisation (AC), and
   the second is commercial (CO).
   While the system is flexible in not enforcing a strict heirarchy, it
   can lead to exhaustion of domain names in the generic space and lead
   to conflicts between organisations who may both have a legitimate
   claim to have a particular name.
3.  Possible solutions to name exhaustion
   With such a flexible system, there are many ways of preventing the
   name space being exhausted. A solution proposed by [2] is to create
   more gTLDs to allow organisations with the same name to be registered
   uniquely under different TLDs (FIRM, STORE, WEB, ARTS, REC, INFO and
   NOM). However this has several disadvantages as discussed below:
   a) It creates confusion in users mind as to what TLD refers to a
      particular organisation. For example, MCDONALDS.COM maybe the fast
      food corporation and MCDONALDS.FIRM maybe a firm of lawyers, but
      how is the user supposed to know which is which?
   b) To prevent the above confusion, big corporations will simply
      reserve all the different variations of the name, ie. IBM.COM,
      IBM.FIRM, IBM.STORE etc. Thus we haven't solved the name
      exhaustion or conflict problems, in fact we have made it worse.
   c) Names of legitimate trade mark holders or other legally held names
      can still be acquired by anybody, leading to potential conflicts.
4.  Proposed creation of new SLDs
   With the aforementioned problems in mind, it is not a good idea to
   create new gTLDs which merely overlap the existing ones. As the
   domain name system is heirarchical it would seem a good idea to
   expand on the existing structure rather than creating several
   duplicate structures.
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RFC 2240                 Domain Name Allocation            November 1997
4.1 The world is not flat so why should domains be?
   With the expansion of the Internet to a truly global medium, the
   notion that there can only be one commercial entity, one orgnisation,
   and one network provider etc. with the same name seems impossible.
   This is the situation that the present system finds itself in.  There
   is a constantly spiralling number of disputes over who 'owns' or '
   deserves' a certain name, with an increasing number ending in
   unnecessary and costly legal action. This is not something that the
   providers of a domain name service should concern themselves with,
   but yet with the present system, this seems inevitable.
4.2 The case for legal names
   This proposal allows for country domain names that are related to
   legally registered names in the country that they are based by
   creating a functional heirarchy beneath the country TLD.
   This proposal does not seek to do away with gTLDs, but rather that a
   legal name should be sought first and then, if desired, a generic
   name could be used alongside it. The organisation would then, in case
   of any disputes, have a legally-held name which no other organisation
   could have any claim to.
   This proposal has several advantages:
   a) The process of deciding what names belong to which organisation
      is no longer a function of the domain name registry, but of the
      company registration authority in the given country. This means
      that disputes over names cannot arise as all names are unique
      within the context of the legal company title.
   b) As all names are unique, there should be no exhaustion
      (deliberately or otherwise) of 'desirable' names by other
      concerns, as all the owners of legally-held company names will
      automatically have the right to the relevant domain name.
4.3 Allocation of legal SLDs
   The second level domain identifiers should be created from the
   existing company indentifiers within the given country.  For example:
     LTD.UK   for limited companies in the UK
     PLC.UK   for public companies in the UK
     INC.US   for incorpated bodies in the US
     CORP.US  for corporations in the US
     GMBH.DE  for German companies
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RFC 2240                 Domain Name Allocation            November 1997
   The registries for the appropriate top-level country domain should
   create and manage the sub-domains based on the laws for allocating
   company names in that particular country.  Specifically, ALL spaces
   should be converted to hyphens '-' and other punctuation either
   disregarded or also converted into hyphens.
   For holders of international trademarks and other international
   names, the gTLD "INT" can be used in place of the country identifier.
   For example:
     TM.INT  } for international trademarks
     REG.INT }
4.4 Allocation of miscellaneous SLDs
   In countries that do not have existing sub-structure it is strongly
   recommended that along with the creation of legal SLDs described
   here, that other SLDs be created for commercial entities,
   organisations, and academic entities to reduce remaining conflicts
   from organisations that are not legally-registered companies.
   For example:
                  | ISO 3166 country | . . . . . . . . .
                  +------------------+        .        .
                   |       |        |         .        .
               +-----+  +-----+  +-----+   +-----+  +-----+
               | AC/ |  | CO/ |  | OR/ |   | LTD |  | INC |
               | EDU |  | COM |  | ORG |   +-----+  +-----+
               +-----+  +-----+  +-----+
4.5 Identifiers in non-ASCII languages
   The representation of any domain element is limited to the ASCII
   character set of alphabetic characters, digits and the hyphen, as
   described in [3]. The representation of names in languages that use
   other character sets is limited by that definition or any future
5.  Security Considerations
   This memo raises no issues relating to network security.  However
   when delegating the subdomains, the registries must ensure that the
   application contains sufficient evidence of the legal rights to a
   given name.
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RFC 2240                 Domain Name Allocation            November 1997
6.  References
   [1]  Postel J. and J. Reynolds , "Domain Requirements", RFC 920,
        October 1984.
   [2]  "Generic Top Level Domains - Memoranding of Understanding"
   [3]  Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - Implementation and
        Specification", RFC 1035, November 1987.
7.  Author's Address
   Owain Vaughan
   Vaughan Enterprises
   PO Box 155
   Newport NP9 6YX
   Phone: +44 1633 677849/822164
   Fax:   +44 1633 663706
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RFC 2240                 Domain Name Allocation            November 1997
8.  Full Copyright Statement
   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1997).  All Rights Reserved.
   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
   copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than
   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.
   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an
Vaughan                      Informational                      [Page 7] 


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