Battle for the .book Domain
Amazon has come under critical fire recently in the
publishing world for its attempt to take control of generic top-level domains
(gTLD) that end in .book, .author, and .read.
The Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, as well as Amazon rival Barnes & Noble have all taken issue with Amazon’s pursuit of the domain names. By allowing Amazon to have the monopoly on such domain names would give them greater and unchecked authority over the presence of the publishing world on the internet.
The increase in the number of domains, which means new suffixes such as .com and .org, will counter the amplified use of the internet across the globe and will make obtaining website names easier, particularly for countries outside of the United States. However, if certain corporations are given monopoly over domains, such as Amazon’s desire for .book and others, that will close the doors for others to be able to use such domain names. Those who win the right to the domain names up for bidding will be allowed to retain the domain name use for themselves or to sell the use of the name.
To object to Amazon’s move, Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild, wrote a letter to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which has control over the use of domain names online and is running the bid for the new domains. Turow states that, “placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anticompetitive.”
More specifically, Turow takes issue with “allowing already dominant, well-capitalized companies to expand and entrench their market power,” and claims that, “the potential for abuse seems limitless.”
Siding with Turow, the American Association of Publishers (AAP) sees Amazon’s desire to obtain the domains as pure business. AAP general counsel Allan Adler stated on the organization’s website that, “the vast book community — authors, publishers, sellers, libraries, readers, educators, editors, researchers, literary agents, collectors, printers, clubs, archives and many others — shouldn’t be barred from connecting around the world through the .book domain. This was the stated mission of the ICANN initiative and should be its goal.”
As a big competitor of the corporation, Barnes & Noble has also criticized Amazon’s desire for the domain names as an attempt to obtain an unfair advantage over competing booksellers.
In total, ICANN reported that Amazon has applied for seventy six new domains, which include .amazon, .music, and .cloud, in addition to .book, .author, and .read. However, Amazon is not alone in the massive domain grab. Google Inc has applied for 101 domains, including .androuf, .youtube, and, in competition with Amazon, .music (see a full list of the domains on ICANN’s website).