Publishing Groups Oppose Amazon gTLD Applications


Groups say Amazon ownership of ‘.book’, .’read’ and ‘.author’ would distort competition

Two major US publishing groups, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers (AAP), have joined retailer Barnes & Noble in opposing several Amazon gTLD applications, arguing they would be a threat to competition.

The organisations say that if Amazon were to own gTLDs (generic Top Level Domain) that end in ‘.book’, ‘.read’ and ‘.author’, the threat for abuse would seem “limitless”, given the online retailer’s dominant position in the book and eBook industry.

The parties have all voiced their concerns to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is overseeing the sale of gTLDs.

Amazon gTLD applications

Graduation mortar on top of books © raven - Fotolia“We strongly object to ICANN’s plans to sell the exclusive top-level domain rights for generic book-industry terms, such as .book, .author, and .read,” said Authors Guild president Scott Turow in a letter to ICANN.

“Placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anticompetitive, allowing already dominant, well-capitalised companies to expand and entrench their market power.  The potential for abuse seems limitless.”

Barnes & Noble claimed Amazon would use the domains to stifle competition and cement its market leading position.

“If Amazon, which controls approximately 60 percent of the market for eBooks and 25 percent of the physical book market, were granted the exclusive use of .book, .read and .author, Amazon would use the control of these TLDs to stifle competition in the bookselling and publishing industries, which are critical to the future of copyrighted expression in the United States,” said the retailer.

Against the public interest

The AAP said the granting of any single private company the exclusive use of a gTLD would be contrary to ICANN’s stated responsibility to act in the public interest, which includes ensuring consumer choice and Internet freedom.

books“How would handing over ownership of a domain string to any one single private company, such as a retailer, for its own business goals support that public service mission?” asked Allan Adler, General Counsel and Vice President, Government Affairs, AAP.

It has called for changes to the application process that would require applicants to demonstrate they were acting in the public interest.

Amazon has applied for a total of 76 gTLDs, including ‘.cloud’, ‘.shop’ and ‘.music’. It will compete with Google for several of these domains in upcoming auctions.

The company will also have to deal with objections from a number of South American national governments that have joined forces to complain about tech giant Amazon’s bid to acquire the .amazon gTLD.

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