Authors, Publishers Oppose Amazon's Plan To Acquire '.Book' Domain

Authors and publishers are urging the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to prohibit Amazon from acquiring some new top-level domain names -- including ".book," ".author," and ".read."

"We strongly object to ICANN's plans to sell the exclusive top-level domain rights for generic book-industry terms," Authors Guild president Scott Turow says in an email to ICANN's top officials. "Placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anticompetitive, allowing already dominant, well-capitalized companies to expand and entrench their market power. The potential for abuse seems limitless."

The Association of American Publishers also weighed in last week, arguing that awarding ".book" to Amazon is "not in the public interest."

The publishers group adds that there is no reason to give Amazon the exclusive right to control that domain name -- which otherwise might be used by "authors, publishers, sellers, libraries, literary agents, educators, editors, collectors, illustrators, photographers, printers, binders, archives, clubs, bibliophiles and others."

ICANN recently received more than 1,000 applications for new generic top-level domains -- which is everything to the right of the last dot in a URL. The group hasn't yet said which of them it will approve.

In addition to applying for domains like ".book," Amazon also is seeking to control domains like .free, .game, and .shop.

The group Consumer Watchdog also chimed in against allowing Amazon to acquire generic terms as domains. The organization says it "might make sense" for Amazon to purchase .Amazon or .Kindle, but not more common words. (Consumer Watchdog also opposes an attempt by Google to acquire more than 100 domains, including ones for generic terms.)

For ICANN, the complaints regarding Amazon are just the latest in a series of criticisms about the new generic top-level domains. The Association of National Marketers has warned that the initiative could result in an increase in cybersquatting and fraud. The ANA recently asked ICANN to allow trademark holders to pay a "reasonable" fee for the right to prevent their names from being incorporated into URLs.

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