About two years ago I wrote with concern about Bit.ly’s use of Libya’s country code.
I noted that It’s always important to keep in mind that a company can’t “own” a domain the way it owns real estate.
Now it appears that companies that have built brand names on Libya’s country code are facing difficult times. TechCrunch writes that Letter.ly and Abrupt.ly have lost their domains as a result of the Libyan crisis.
Country code registrars around the world must have been smiling when Bit.ly announced its new enterprise service Bit.ly Pro.
For $995 per month a company can leverage Bit.ly’s platform to support its own custom URL. (UPDATE: You can get Bit.ly Pro for free, but with a usage cap and limited feature set; see comments below).
At this price point, we’re only talking about large companies, but there are plenty of them that will find value in having a branded URL that provides excellent tracking data. Bit.ly reports that 6,000 companies have signed up so far. And while not all of these companies will use ccTLDs, most of them probably will.
Companies that are now using Bit.ly Pro include Amazon (amzn.to) and the New York Times (nyti.ms).
And, looking ahead, I’m sure the price of this service will drop, which will attract many more companies into the fold.
I’ve collected a running list of companies using ccTLDs in creative ways here. I expect this list to grow rapidly in the months ahead.
You can’t get any shorter than this, at least not until we see single-digital TLDs.
I can’t help but wonder if this new URL is a sign that Bit.ly is planning to shift away from its Libyan-dependent domain to one that may be a tad bit more politically stable.
And you could argue that .MP does the trick. It is the domain of the Northern Mariana Islands. It’s also a part of the US (in some legal fashion that I don’t fully understand), which has to make the lawyers at Bit.ly breathe more easily.
So my prediction is that Bit.ly will be replaced by J.mp. And though Bit.ly might play up the shorter angle for the reason why, I think it’s the legal angle that matters more.
PS: I added J.mp to a growing list of these branded country code domains.
Bit.ly, the URL shortener now used by Twitter, is not the first company to craft its name out of a county code top-level domain (ccTLD).
But Bit.ly does appear to be the first company to do so with the Libyan ccTLD.
As some have speculated, Bit.ly could put itself into a precarious position should it begin hosting URLs for the adult industry, or any other industry that violates Libyan laws. It’s always important to keep in mind that a company can’t “own” a domain the way it owns real estate.
But this is all just speculation. The registrar Libyan Spider clearly is hoping to capitalize on all the “ly” permutations of a word or brand name. And the fact of the matter is that more and more countries are viewing their country codes as profit centers.
Which leads me to a brief inventory of the sites that I am aware of that use ccTLDs as part of their names: