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King of my own (Internet) domain!

Column: The liberalization of Internet domain names will help companies, but it will also make the Web way more complicated.

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I have a dream. I dream of a place on the Internet that is all mine. A place – OK, it is a virtual place, but that doesn’t make it any less real these days – where I get to decide who gets called what, and I can make up as many names as I like without needing to worry about stepping on someone’s digital toes.

Yes, I dream of owning my own global top-level Internet domain.

In case you've never heard of such a thing, a top-level domain is everything that comes after the final dot in an Internet address, such as .com, .biz, .org, etc. And starting next year I can buy .regan. But only if a rich relative leaves me a big chunk of change in a will.

OK, it’s a foolish dream. But the reality is that in early 2010, companies will be able to stick their own names in place of the all too common .com. So don’t be surprised if you start seeing Internet address that end in, perhaps, .walmart or .wendys or .winnebago.

But the price is not cheap. The California-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees domain names, will most likely start taking applications for these new top-level domains for $185,000 per application. That means my chances of getting .regan are probably zero (unless the Monitor starts to pay me a lot more money for this column).

But there's a reason behind the enormous application fees: cybersquatters.

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