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Username: phssra
Date/Time: Fri, October 13, 2000 at 9:05 PM GMT (Fri, October 13, 2000 at 5:05 PM EDT)
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Subject: .co-op designation


                Just as we distinguish between .com and .org, it only makes sense to have a separate .co-op domain. Others have mentioned that cooperatives are distinct from normal for-profit businesses (.com) and nonprofit organizations (.org), and I want to elaborate on that distinction.

Cooperatives have features of both while falling into neither category: they offer goods and services to their customers like an ordinary business, but they operate on a nonprofit basis. Like an ordinary business their resources are controlled by a group of individuals (the members), but like many nonprofit organizations they are controlled democratically (by the members). However, because they exist for the benefit of their members, they have established a reputation of trust and quality that sets them apart from other businesses. Their member orientation also sets them apart from most nonprofits.

Because of these differences, most state laws, as well as federal law, establish separate organizational, tax, and other statutes for cooperatives (and their financial expression, credit unions). These differences are also recognized internationally, including by the United Nations, so a .co-op domain would not be restricted to U.S. cooperatives, but could be enjoyed by the many cooperatives in other countries. The International Co-operative Alliance estimates that more there are more than 800 million cooperative members, and more than 100 million cooperative employees. They deserve to be able to distinguish their cooperatives from other organizations on the Internet.

I would emphasize that some mechanism for policing the use of .co-op must be in place. Because of the excellent reputation that cooperatives enjoy amongst the public, unscrupulous businesses may label themselves as cooperatives when in fact they are not. It is even against the law in some states to use the label "cooperative" if an organization is not organized as such. It is inevitable that a non-cooperative will try to use .co-op, and we must be able to prevent that or revoke it if it is later determined that they are not cooperatives.

See the link below for more information about cooperatives and what sets them apart from .com and .org.


Link: Cooperative League of the USA (National Cooperative Business Association)

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