Amazon’s Attempts to Rule the .Book Web Raises Hackles

In News by Dennis Abrams

By Dennis Abrams

The Wall Street Journal reports that two publishing industry groups, the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild, are raising objections to Amazon’s request for ownership of new global top-level domain names (gTLDs) that have become available as part of an expansion of the Web’s addressing scheme. The groups argue that giving Amazon control over addresses such as “.book,” “.author,” and “.read” would be a threat to competition and therefore should not be allowed.

Scott Turow, best-selling author and president of the Authors Guild wrote to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the non-profit that oversees the world’s Internet domain names. “Placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anticompetitive. The potential for abuse seems limitless.”

Barnes and Noble agreed, filing an objection with ICANN arguing that giving Amazon control of the new Internet names could be used to “stifle competition in the bookselling and publishing industries, which are critical to the future of copyrighted expression in the U.S.”

Livemint.com points out that, while the motives of lobby bodies and competitors will always be suspect, “there are good reasons to believe that gTLDs have the potential to cause mayhem in cyberspace — a point raised with the US government by bodies like the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (Crido) in November 2011.

Crido wrote to the US Department of Commerce at the time that the ICANN proposal “would unduly burden a diverse range of public and private brand holders, as they would be forced to spend ever-greater amounts of time and resources simply to protect their brands.” It had added “the ICANN plan would confuse consumers, increase the already unacceptable level of fraud and identity theft on the Internet, create new opportunities for Internet crime, and jeopardize cyber security.”

To date, Amazon has declined to comment on specific objections, but in a letter to ICANN, a senior corporate counsel for the company “rejected the notion that its plans raises concerns about competition.”

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.