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Amazon's quest for domain names raises hackles

Posting in Technology

Last year, the international nonprofit organization that oversees Internet domain names such as .com, .net and .edu opened an application process for organizations to serve as registries for new domain names such as .buy, .movie, .app and others.

But two publishing groups, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, have publicly opposed the application that online retailing behemoth Amazon put in for addresses such as .book, .author and .read.

"Placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anticompetitive," wrote Scott Turow, Authors Guild president, to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the nonprofit that oversees Internet domain names. "The potential for abuse seems limitless."

Rival book seller Barnes & Noble also filed an objection with ICANN over Amazon's application, saying that if the company controlled such domain names, it could "stifle competition in the bookselling and publishing industries, which are critical to the future of copyrighted expression in the U.S."

According to ICANN's website, Amazon applied for dozens of domain names, including ".movie," ".app," ".kindle" and ".prime" -- the latter two presumably chosen for the Amazon products by those names.

While most applicants presumably wish to own the domains in order to sell individual addresses on those names -- i.e. jamesbond.movie or citizenkane.movie -- the Association of American Publishers stated that it objected to Amazon owning .book because the company's application appears to indicate that it doesn't intend to sell addresses on that domain.

Mr. Turow said in the Wall Street Journal that the company "would move a few inches closer to a monopoly in the book business," and that whoever controls those domain names will get an "enormous competitive advantage."

Last year the Authors Guild criticized Amazon for setting e-book prices too low and for removing the "buy" button for some books during pricing disputes.

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via: The Wall Street Journal

photo: Balajimuthazhagan/Wikimedia

— By on March 11, 2013, 8:00 PM PST

Laura Shin

Features Editor

Laura Shin has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, and is currently a contributor at Forbes. Previously, she worked at Newsweek, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and LearnVest. She holds degrees from Stanford University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure