Public Interest Registry Definition

Public Interest Registry (PIR) is a non-profit corporation that was created by the Internet Society (ISOC) in 2002 to manage the .org TLD (top level domain).

TLDs are suffixes on domain names, such as .com, .edu, .org and country codes (e.g., .uk, .fr or .jp). Domain names are names that uniquely identify sites (e.g., web sites or ftp sites) on the Internet or other TCP/IP (transmission control protocol/Internet protocol) network and serve as user-friendly substitutes for difficult-to-remember numeric IP address.

.org was created in 1984 as one of the Internet's original TLDs. Today it is the world's sixth largest TLD, with more than 3.3 million domain names. Although anyone can register a .org site, this TLD is intended for use by non-commercial and non-governmental organizations, particularly those engaged in educational, cultural, charitable and religious activities. It is also often associated with the free software movement, as opposed to proprietary (i.e., commercial) software companies, which generally use the .com TLD for their web sites.

The ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) board of directors voted in October 2002 to select PIR to replace VeriSign Inc as the operator of the .org TLD on the basis of the recommendation of the ISOC. The Reston, Virginia-based PIR then took over operation of the .org TLD on January 1, 2003. The ISOC, also based in Reston, is an international organization that was founded in 1992 to promote Internet use and access.

PIR's primary responsibility is managing the database of .org domain names, which connects individuals surfing the web to the .org sites they seek. It does this with support from its technical provider, Afilias Limited. The Dublin, Ireland-based Afilias also provides registry services for several country code TLDs (ccTLDs) and serves as the registry for the .info TLD.

PIR also works to improve the quality of .org. For example, it has slashed the time required to launch a live web site after the domain name has been registered to a mere five (and most often only two) minutes, in contrast to as long as two days required for some other TLDs. PIR has also implemented a grace period that makes it possible for holders of .org domain names to reclaim their domain names if they missed a renewal deadline, and it has begun working with ICANN to implement a more efficient domain name transfer process.

PIR's website is located at

Created November 29, 2005.
Copyright © 2005 The Linux Information Project. All Rights Reserved.