While recovering from minor surgery (which sadly means several weeks of limited computer access…), I stumbled upon this very interesting bit of news: AFcom, the African Registrar, struck a deal with the old registrar for Sierra Leone to allow registration of .sl domain names!
This is something that several residents (and Linden Lab itself) have been trying to work out with the .sl registrar since 2004 at least. The old registrar never answered emails and their phone number was disconnected. AFcom at least means serious business: for US$50 (you can pay with PayPal or Visa/Mastercard/AMEX) you can get your own .sl domain name for a year. Please note that the domain names under .sl are on a first-come, first-served basis, and dispute resolution is very limited, so make sure you get yours quickly!
Several people will be a bit worried about using AFcom and will prefer to wait until the big registrars like GoDaddy start offering .sl domain name registration. I was afraid I got my trademarked names swept under my feet by people without such qualms, so I registered immediately. Although the nic.sl site looks simplistic, it certainly works well enough: setting up is a breeze (if you have access to DNS service from your favourite hosting provider) and after less than an hour, DNS had propagated and my new domain names started working immediately. In spite of some comments to the contrary, the process does seem to be automated, since I used it during Sierra Leone’s night.
If you’re still unsure, take a look at the SL Universe forums discussing this issue. And ask questions there!
Now the trademarking question comes back again: how will Linden Lab deal with things like http://gwynethllewelyn.sl/? Am I infringing any LL’s trademarks by registering that domain, or just registering a domain under Sierra Leone? This should certainly amuse the lawyers at Linden Lab (and yes, secondlife.sl is naturally taken) 🙂