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Computers must have a unique identifier (address) so that they can communicate in the network. These addresses are called IP addresses (Internet Protocol addresses). They consist of four rows of numbers in the range 0-255, separated by dots with a maximum of three digits. The IP address can look as follows: 126.96.36.199 (example.com). This sequence of numbers, comparable to a telephone number, ensures that information is transferred to the correct computer.
Since people can remember names better than a sequence of numbers, IP addresses, i.e., the string of numbers are linked to domain names. Special computers (so-called nameservers) then translate the domain names into IP addresses and vice versa.
Domain Name Structure
The domain name consists of a top-level (top domain, such as .net or .org) and other domain levels.
Two groups of the top-level domains are:
- Type-specific (gTLD): e.g. “.com” for commercial, “.biz” for business
- Country-specific (ccTLD): e.g. “.it” for Italy, “.fr” for France
Domain names are protected as commercial designations by the trademark law.
Domain Name Restrictions
Restrictions in domain names resulted from the guidelines of the registrars.
The following are generally permitted in domain names:
- Letters (A-Z),
- Hyphens and
- Numbers (0-9).
No distinction is made between upper and lower case letters.
Domain Name Registration
Domain registration is carried out by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). On behalf of the customer, the providers send the domain registrations directly to the registrars’ computers via an Internet interface, where the registration is carried out fully automatically. If the desired domain name is not assigned, it is entered into the database by the registrant’s provider.
Domains are registered according to the principle of “first come first served,” whereby registrars do not check whether the domain ordered affects the name, trademark or other rights of third parties.
Before registration, the name of the domain and its extension (top-level domain) should be specified. A Whois query can then be used to check the availability of domain names. Many providers make the Whois query available on their websites.
Registrations are limited in time. Domain names cannot be purchased. You only secure a right of use for a certain period. Usually, initial registrations have terms of one year, which are automatically renewed upon expiration. Many domains can also be registered directly for a more extended period (up to 10 years).