Amazon Takes Flak Over Bid For ‘Anticompetitive’ Web Names
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Last year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began taking applications for new Internet address endings. As many businesses began vying for their own brand-specific names, one company´s plans in particular are being called into question.
Amazon is seeking to claim the “.book,” “.author,” and “.read” name endings, but some organizations feel this move would be anticompetitive. This isn´t the first time Amazon´s proposed name endings have come into question.
According to the Wall Street Journal, two publishing companies, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, are saying an Amazon-owned domain such as “HarryPotter.read” could give the company an unfair advantage over their competitors.
“Placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anticompetitive,” said Scott Turow, Authors Guild president in a statement to ICANN. “The potential for abuse seems limitless.”
Competitor Barnes & Noble has also complained about the proposed names, claiming Amazon will use these names “to stifle competition in the bookselling and publishing industries.”
“Amazon’s ownership would also threaten the openness and freedom of the Internet and would have harmful consequences for Internet users worldwide,” read Barnes & Noble´s objection letter to ICANN.
In their application for the “.read” gTLD, Amazon claimed they´d be able to offer a stable and secure foundation for online communication and interaction if they were to obtain ownership.
“Amazon intends for its new .READ gTLD to provide a unique and dedicated platform for stable and secure online communication and interaction. The .READ registry will be run in line with current industry standards of good registry practice.”
The company later states that “.read” will provide them with a “further platform for innovation” as well as allow them to protect their intellectual property rights.
Businesses are currently waiting for their applications to go through the process without any complaints. ICANN will consider any objection before issuing these generic top-level domains (or gTLD) to applicants.
Amazon has also submitted applications for gTLDs which represent products or services specific to their brand, such as “.kindle” or “.prime.” Other companies, like Apple and Google, have also submitted brand-specific gTLDs. Google, for instance, has applied for 23 of the same gTLDs as Amazon and will have to prove to ICANN why they deserve to own these strings.
A group representing 50 of the world´s governments is keeping a running tally of gTLDs which could potentially be rejected by ICANN. Known as the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), this group issues “early warnings” to the applicants of the questionable gTLDs. A list of these early warnings can be found on the GAC´s website.
Last November, other Amazon-proposed gTLDs, such as “.app,” “.cloud,” “.fashion,” and “.game,” were called into question.
The Australian government also raised an objection to Amazon´s application for the “.fashion” gTLD, saying: “Restricting common generic strings for the exclusive use of a single entity could have unintended consequences, including a negative impact on competition.”
The GAC has also raised an early warning red flag for any gTLD which could stir up existing tensions between groups of people, such as “.islam,” or “.africa.”