If your chosen .com or .net domain isn’t available, there’s usually .org or .cc or .whatever — really. Bottom line, folks: Top Level Domains are no longer any fun to deal with; no more partying like it’s 1999, ‘cause it ain’t! The fact is that all words of five letters or less and practically every single word in the English language is already taken, and we all know that “the more, the merrier” doesn’t apply to the words in a domain name. Even though you’re allowed up to 52 characters in a second level domain name — that’s the part between www. and .com — you want your domain name short, concise and to-the-point. However, thanks in great part to cybersquatters, as well as the proliferation of legitimate domain name-seekers, there are fewer choices than ever.
A Case Study
Last year, I wrote a movie, and for good reason, I named it “Nerd.” Before completing the script, I attempted to get a domain for the movie. Obviously, Nerd.com was taken, and not by the band N.E.R.D., but by a cybersquatter who can’t write a complete sentence. After seeing the ridiculous prices for nerd (any top level domain), I eventually chose the three-word URL NerdTheFilm.com at a cost of 99¢. I hated it; passionately. The only consolation I received was, after letting the name expire, some repugnant cybersquatter bought it in the hopes that I simply forgot about renewing it and wasted their money. Justice served.
Pricing a Domain Name
Without a domain, a movie or TV series stands much less of a chance getting the funding it needs to become a reality. Moreover, once it is an established brand, the entity needs a way to get out word about its existence. So what do you do? Pay a ridiculous amount of money for a cool name on a Top Level Domain? Or buy something cheaper that is utterly inappropriate? Hey, for just $139.00, I could have Nerd.Attorney.
Ummm … no.
Then, I heard about a Top Level Domain that wasn’t readily available through GoDaddy or any other domain registrar: .film. Now that’s an appropriate extension! With Nerd being only four letters and a single, complete word, it’s considered a premium name, so it cost $300 instead of the standard $69.00. Although I wasn’t looking to spend three beans this early in the game, the newer option wasn’t a bad price, and it came with some advantages that aren’t available with any other generic Top Level Domain (including .com).
Without a domain, a movie or TV series stands much less of a chance getting the funding it needs to become a reality.
To learn more about using this Top Level Domain, we spoke to Patrick Donaldson, the general manager of the Australian company that owns .film, about how and why .film came to be.
The Top Level Domain of .film is quite new, so most film titles, company names, etc., are still available. Just like .com, .org, .net, etc., .film is a generic top level domain (gTLD). It began its existence when, in January 2012, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) offered to make generic Top Level Domains available to practically anyone with a decent reason to create the extension, proof that they can administer the gTLD and an extra $185,000 to spend on it – or more, if it is requested by multiple companies. Google paid $25,000,000 for the rights to .app, which is among the 101 Top Level Domains that they applied for since 2012. Remember when it was just .com, .net, .gov, .org and .mil? Prior to the opening up of TLDs, there were still only 22 extensions in existence, but now, anyone with a legit interest in creating a new Top Level Domain was invited to make a proposal.
Today there are more than 750 domain extensions in the wild with about 1,200 more on the waiting list, looking to get out into the cyber-world. Doing the math, what we realize is that, once all of the domains have been processed, we’ll soon have over 2,000 gTLDs in the next couple of years. Companies from AAA to Zippo applied for their own gTLDs and hundreds were awarded. Numerous groups, including Google, applied for .film so an auction was held. There were over 700 such contested gTLDs. Simon Delzoppo, CEO of Motion Picture Domain Registry (MPDR), won the auction in 2013 and the TLD was ready to begin registering Second Level Domains as of October, 2015.
How it Works
Although you’re able to purchase a .film address from the usual sources (i.e. GoDaddy, iPage, BlueHost, etc). .film is known as a “restricted Top Level Domain.” What this means is that the MPDR has complete control over who gets a .film domain and who doesn’t. By staying in charge of the sale of all domains under their Top Level Domain, .film can control who owns a .film address.
“We have an eligibility policy that dictates who is eligible to register a .film domain name,” explains Donaldson. “When someone registers a domain name at get.film or any other registrar, they warrant that they meet the eligibility policy criteria. Anyone can register a .film domain name, even if they do not fit the criteria. However, if they don’t fit the eligibility criteria, they risk having the name taken away. We have mechanisms in place to dispute the eligibility of any registrant to ensure the namespace continues to meet the mission and purpose of the TLD.”
This is highly advantageous to those who could fall victim to cybersquatters. Donaldson tells us that “Allocating names manually is a rather tedious process.” However, it’s also necessary. Unlike the unrestricted Top Level Domains (such as .com), .film doesn’t simply hand out URLs to anyone who can buy them. If, for instance, someone were to have purchased nerd.film before me in the hopes of selling it to me later, the .film team would take their account away. They don’t allow cybersquatting and take a proactive approach to killing it.
They only allow people with a legitimate interest in the particular URL to have access to it. So, if I were to try and get WillliamMorris.film, Avatar.film or UniversalPictures.film. It would be denied or taken away, if it somehow slipped through the cracks. There are exceptions, as Donaldson explains, “If someone were to say, register ‘williammorris.film’ and it’s a legitimate film they are working on or they are in fact a filmmaker named ‘William Morris’, then they would be fine. The issue would be if the website [owners] portrayed themselves as William Morris or, of course, the registrant does not meet eligibility.”
The .film domain may not be for everyone, but anyone looking to have a short, memorable URL for their videos should consider it. .film is currently being used for film titles, production/sales companies, film festivals, awards shows, and individuals in the film industry. One of those who’ve made the switch is the Highland Film Group. Although their old domain, HighlandFilmGroup.com, is very descriptive of who they are, it’s a lot to type and it’s prone to being typed incorrectly (leading us again to the cybersquatters). Therefore, they chose Highland.film as their URL.
What about TV?
If you’re not in the business of making movies, but television instead, you can look into getting yourself a .tv domain. Fortunately, someone long ago had the wisdom to create the .tv domain for people who want to register their television programs, channels, and companies, right? Wrong! .tv is actually the extension for the Pacific island group that had the great fortune of being named Tuvalu.
It’s been said that, due to climate change and subsequent rising oceans, the money that they receive from Verisign for .tv literally keeps the islands above water. We don’t know how true that is, but the millions of dollars per year in Verisign fees that the low-lying islands receive is – along with fish – one of their main exports. Good thing they changed their name from the Ellice Islands when they became independent of the British Empire!
All two-character Top Level Domain extensions are country code Top Level Domains,or ccTLDs. Some countries demand that registrants be citizens, live in their country or have some other close affiliation with the country whose ccTLD is being used, but Tuvalu is amongst the many countries that have no such restrictions. This is both good and bad news for you. It means that there is an alternative to .com for your series, but it also means that there’s a decent chance your name is already taken.
The biggest disadvantage to using a .film extension, at least for those of us who’ve been using the internet for over 15 years, is that many people are still accustomed to typing .com at the end of every address. For newer users, that isn’t much of a problem. With there being over 2,000 gTLDs coming over the course of the next few years, and hundreds of ccTLDs already in use, the rest of us are just going to have to get used to it, just as we did when we learned that all toll-free numbers no longer begin with 1-800. If you’re interested in using a .film address, simply register at www.get.film or learn more at www.go.film.
SIDEBAR: There’s a Name for That!
Each part of a web address has a name! The letters on the far right are the Top Level Domain (TLD) the letters and numbers, usually a name, are the Second Level Domain, if there is another word before the www, then it’s a Third Level Domain, etc. Even the http or https at the beginning has a name: protocol identifier. Here is a quick rundown of what those Top Level Domains are called:
ccTLD – This is a country code Top Level Domain. One way to know if it’s a ccTLD is, it will have exactly two letters. Therefore, anyone with a .cc address is — technically, but not realistically — based in the Cocos Islands
gTLD – If a TLD is not country based; it’s generic. Everything from .com to .whatever is a generic TLD. Those TLDs are then subdivided into these subcategories:
rTLD – are closely monitored by the owner of the domain name. This way, the TLD owner can control who is and is not allowed to have a domain in their space. There is very little, if any, distinction between rTLDs and sTLDs.
sTLD – These domains, such as .fedex and .ford are “sponsored” and therefore, you have to be let into the domain. These two examples, being company-owned, aren’t going to let anyone in them at all. Second level domain names are determined by the company, such as www.focus.ford or however Ford chooses to use their name. Sponsored TLDs are based on ethnic, geographical, professional, technical or other themed concepts proposed by private agencies or organizations that establish and enforce rules restricting the eligibility of registrants to use the TLD.
uTLD – Although this initialism exists, it’s hardly ever used and are usually referred to as gTLDs or TLDs. The most famous of these is .com, which will allow anyone to use their TLD, provided it’s not taken. This is also where you’re going to get the most cybersquatters because they are completely unregulated. The letters stand for Unsponsored or Unrestricted Top Level Domain.
John McCabe is a scriptwriter and director. He also owns www.NeverSayCut.com and now www.nerd.film! He even has email addresses on his sites. You can reach him at John@NeverSayCut.com if you’re looking to hire him.