New domain is launched for member-owned businesses

International

Registration under the new '.coop' generic top-level domain (gTLD) has opened to all cooperatives worldwide. Being available to a relatively narrow market, the domain received only around 4,100 advance reservations, considerably fewer than the recently introduced '.biz', '.info' and '.name'.

In contrast to the '.com', '.org', and '.net' gTLDs, in which registration is open to anyone, registrants must meet strict eligibility criteria to buy domain names with the '.coop' suffix. The domain names are available only to credit unions, cooperatives and coop support organizations. Cooperatives are businesses that are owned and controlled by their members - the people who buy goods and services produced by the cooperative - and not by investors.

According to .coop, the sponsor of the new domain and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US-based National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), there are 750,000 cooperatives worldwide which provide services to an estimated 760 million members.

The NCBA proposed the '.coop' domain to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers in September 2000, in cooperation with the International Cooperative Alliance and Poptel, a cooperative internet service provider in the United Kingdom that will serve as the '.coop' registry operator.

Jon Fell, Masons, London

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