As you may have read here earlier this week, the Libyan domain registry NIC.ly raised quite a ruckus by suddenly assuming control over the domain name vb.ly, abruptly taking down a URL shortening service cooked up by Ben Metcalfe and Violet Blue.
NIC.ly now states that they tried to contact the previous owners of vb.ly repeatedly, to no avail, and that the domain was singled out because of its purpose (“to serve as a ‘sex friendly URL shortener’, mainly for adult uses”).
The registry adds that the local online community plays a part in the decision-making, and that vb.ly was deemed to operate under the “porn/adult” flag and thus in violation of its rules and regulations.
Except the statement leaves questions to be answered still.
While NIC.ly says other URL shorteners have policies in place that make them adhere to NIC.ly rules and regulations, the registry adds the following, fairly ambiguous part:
As to the decision to keep the registration of domain names shorter than 4 symbols long under .ly only for entities with a local Libyan presence, this comes in accordance with NIC.ly’s concern that the rise in popularity of URL shorteners from abroad taking up all these names has deprived locals of their right to register the important 3 letter abbreviations of their various businesses and interests.
We as a Registry would prefer seeing art.ly used for a website about Libyan art for instance, or lda.ly used by the Libyan De-mining Association, rather than adding more URL shorteners under our National TLD.
What the registry fails to clarify here, is whether it intends to deprive owners of short .ly domain names of control over their website addresses, or if this only goes for new registrations.
In other words, NIC.ly says it “would prefer” seeing art.ly used by a local Libyan business or person, but doesn’t say if that means it will effectively transfer ownership of the domain name at some point in the foreseeable future.
I’ve contacted the registry with a request for clarification and will update according.ly (haha).