Years ago, a Nominet letter got attention; Today all you think is "What are they hawking now?"
The slur on academics is misplaced. Many many years ago I registered my employer's network with the InterNIC, sending papers off to SRI and then waiting for weeks for a response. Back then, you did have questions to answer. The sole criterion wasn't simply the cash to pay the registration fee. Later, when I started a company, I contacted others that might be unhappy with me registering a domain too close to their name or domain. Only then did I register our pre-Nominet domain name. Months previously, I registered a company (using an agent that sent me a list of similar names so I could avoid a clash). Beyond the duty to file, I don't have much to do with Companies House and, in particular, a company name of decades standing.
Naively, I thought that was that. The cyber equivalent of quantitative easing -- the creation of yet more namespaces -- is simply a headache. Commercially and technically it's just more cost and work respectively. But to brand and identity, it's a migraine as you're effectively "forced" to register it to protect yourself from trading passers-off and IP asset speculators. There *is* regulation over names that are so egregiously chosen as likely to cause confusion. The way in which Nominet has operated has created conflicts of interest and has compromised perhaps the key public good that it was established to deliver; that of stability and integrity of an electronic directory or businesses and other organisations. (D7. of the Report articulates similar purposes).
Of course scale meant that the system had to made less manually-intensive. That's not the same as saying it had to be taken out of the hands of well-meaning academics. And of course domain names were always going to be hot property. Collectively we've been there before with the likes of desirable and designer registration plates and gold phone numbers. But the froth of those "markets" on top of rules-based work-a-day plate and number administration is small.
One of the lessons that the 2008 financial crash taught us was that much of banking really ought to have been boring; less creative and innovative -- or at least less designed to make waves. Then we'd have had no need for quantitative easing.
Nominet's costs ought to have fallen. Providing it can generate sufficient revenue from renewals and from new registrations to be self-sustaining, isn't it a sufficient return, that it does it's core job well? The whipping-up of a market yes, that would have inevitably developed, into a veritable domain *industry* seems only to have benefited the participants in that industry -- not the wider public nor Joe Blogs Ltd. The focus of Nominet is too insular, and the relationship with its members to incestuous for public good to result.