Amazon's applications for book industry top-level domains opposed

Publishing industry groups oppose Amazon.com's application for the ".book" domain among others

Amazon.com's application for top-level domain strings, including for ".book" and ".read," has come under attack from publishing industry groups and competitor Barnes & Noble.

Authors Guild in New York, for example, said it objected to the plan to sell rights to top-level domain terms relevant to the book industry to private companies. The guild claims to represent more than 8,000 published writers.

Placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anticompetitive, allowing already dominant, well-capitalized companies to expand and entrench their market power, Authors Guild President Scott Turow said in a letter to ICANN. "The potential for abuse seems limitless," he added.

ICANN, which stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has been promoting new generic top-level domains or gTLDs (generic top-level domains). Its board approved in June, 2011 an increase in the number of gTLDs, hoping to bring significant benefits to Internet users, including the ability to create new TLDs in non-Latin, non-English scripts.

Amazon has applied for a large number of gTLD strings, some directly linked to its current trademarks such as ".kindle," and ".fire" but others which are more generic in nature.

Bookseller Barnes & Noble has also written a letter to ICANN to ask it to deny Amazon.com's application to purchase several TLDs, most notably ".book," ".read" and ".author," which it refers to collectively as the Book TLDs.

One of the stated goals of ICANN when announcing its plan to increase TLDs was to enhance competition and consumer choice, Barnes & Noble said.

If the Book TLDs applications are granted to Amazon, "no bookseller or publisher other than Amazon will be able to register second-level domain names in .book, .read and .author without Amazon's approval, leaving Amazon free to exclude competitors and exploit the generic Book TLDs for its sole benefit," Barnes and Noble's counsels said in a submission to ICANN.

The Association of American Publishers also said it filed comments opposing Amazon's bid to exclusively secure the ".book" domain. The organization is a trade association of U.S. book publishers.

The ".book" domain is likely to be sought by a variety of categories of users in different countries, Allan Robert Adler, AAP's general counsel and vice president for government affairs wrote in a comment to ICANN. The ".book" domains may also surface in connection with "secondary or idiomatic" uses of the word "book," such as to reference financial accounts, records of achievements or wagers, or as a verb referring to vacation and travel arrangements, Adler wrote.

In its application for the ".book" gTLD, Amazon wrote that ".BOOK will be a single entity registry, with all domains registered to Amazon for use in pursuit of Amazon's business goals." There will be no resellers and market in ".book" domains, and Amazon will strictly control the use of ".book" domains, it added.

AAP's Adler said it is clear that Amazon is seeking exclusive control of the ".book" string solely for its own business purposes, regardless of other companies, organizations and individuals that "have diverse interests in the use of this gTLD or its second-level domains by others or themselves."

Amazon.com could not be immediately reached for comment.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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