I discovered today that the .im domain registry has been opened up to be more freely available, allowing anyone with an interest to buy a .im domain. The registry has been opened up to be more like the .tv domain which appealed especially to TV companies. The maintainers of the Isle of Man's domain hope that .im will to appeal to Internet Messaging companies.
Previously the domains were only available to Isle of Man based organisations who could prove they had a right to the name; the process was manual, and the domain had to be approved by a committee before it could be created. Now, the process has been automated, has a pretty website, and is available to anyone, whether based on the Island or not. The domains are still checked up-front against a list of 'inappropriate domains' and apparently vetted by a committee (after the automated registration process).
Not having heard about the opening up of the domain registry back in July, I was a little confused when this email arrived in my inbox this morning:
www.Peel.im Domain for sale
I am putting the domain name www.Peel.im up for auction and am currently taking bids for it
Please serious offers only as this name is getting a lot of interest. Please bid on the domain by
clicking on FOR SALE at www.Peel.im or by emailing me directly at <email removed>
I thought it was a little weird because previously you could only register third level domains (eg yourname.co.im). Wanting to know more, I went to the nic.im website to check it out, seeing that peel.im is in fact registered and being put up for sale by someone in San Francisco.
It seems a shame to me that people can hold 'local domains' for a ransom. In my opinion, [placename].im domains should be reserved for use by local organisations for a relevant local website, be that perhaps a local government website (though the move of Douglas Borough Council from douglas.org.im to douglas.gov.im instead of douglas.im suggests that maybe needn't be the case) or at least a website that's related to that location. Checking some of the other domains, like ballasalla.im, castletown.im, douglas.im, laxey.im, they do appear to have been reserved by the registry, but there were a number which I tried which haven't been reserved and still run the risk of having some opportunist buying them and holding them for ransom.
Perhaps the rest of the [placename].im domains should be placed on the reserved list to prevent this from happening, though I'm not sure how you'd choose the rightful owner of these domains if they weren't all reserved for government use, for example.
On a related note, it's interesting that my design for geodan.org appears to have been inspired by the 1997 version of the nic.im website. This wasn't intentional, though there must have been some subconscious link reminding me of this website design from almost 10 years ago. How retro.