This Saturday, the .org top-level domain (TLD) will no longer be privately managed. With VeriSign's contract with ICANN for management of the .org TLD ending December 31, 2002, ICANN put management of the new registry out to bid and has chosen the Internet Society (ISOC) / Public Interest Registry (PIR) to take over the registry.
Despite rumblings that the .org TLD might be restricted to not-for-profits sometime around 2007, the current move imposes no restrictions and instead only makes a suggestion that .org be used for "noncommercial" sites. From the PIR site:
Noncommercial endeavors are those not conducted or maintained for the purpose of making a profit. This wide range includes (but isn't limited to) charitable, artistic, scientific, personal, educational, social, cultural, and religious endeavors.
.ORG sites are run by clubs, incorporated and unincorporated not-for-profit organizations, industry associations, families, individuals, schools, foundations, and more. Even for-profit companies run .ORG sites devoted to their noncommercial activities, such as charitable or volunteer programs.
With the transition, PIR has claimed a number of benefits and improvements:
- Supposedly a .org domain name will be usable minutes after registration.
- All WHOIS data for the .org TLD will eventually be consolidated into one central database.
- Revenues from .org registrations will be donated to outreach and educational programs.
VeriSign will close the .org registry on Saturday, January 25th at 14:00 UTC (9:00 a.m. Eastern time in the USA). The registry database and other functions will then be transferred to PIR. PIR will reopen for new registrations at 23:00 UTC on Sunday, January 26 (6:00 p.m. Eastern time in the USA). During this shutdown, no new .org registrations (or updates to existing .org domains) will be possible.
For a period of time after the re-opening, PIR will impose a Stability Control period, expected to be completed within 48 hours of the reopening. During this period, no modifications will be allowed to existing .org domain records. New .org names can be registered after the registry re-opens, but once registered, no updates to the domain record will be allowed until the stability controls are removed.
You can find out more about the Public Interest Registry at http://www.pir.org/. Internic discusses the transition in a FAQ about the .org transition. Sadly, no releases on the move could be found on the VeriSign site.