Saturday, March 02, 2013

Booksellers Weigh In On Amazon's New TLDs

Michele NeylonSome pretty big companies are beginning to show an active interest in ICANN's new TLD project. The most recent of them is bookseller Barnes & Noble.
The letter, which is available both on the ICANN website, is quite narrow and pointed in its scope and focusses on the perceived competition issues with Amazon's bids for several "closed generics".

Excerpt from the letter:
Barnes & Noble, Inc. submits this letter to urge ICANN to deny's application to purchase several top level domains (TLDs), most notably .book, .read and .author (collectively the "Book TLDs").1 Amazon, the dominant player in the book industry, should not be allowed to control the Book TLDs, which would enable them to control generic industry terms in a closed fashion with disastrous consequences not only for bookselling but for the American public. If Amazon, which controls approximately 60% of the market for eBooks and 25% of the physical book market2, were granted the exclusive use of .book, .read and .author, Amazon would use the control of these TLDs to stifle competition in the bookselling and publishing industries, which are critical to the future of copyrighted expression in the United States.
Amazon's ownership would also threaten the openness and freedom of the intenet and would have harmful consequences for intenet users worldwide. When ICANN announced its plan to increase the number of TLDs available on the Domain Name System, one of its stated goals was to enhance competition and consumer choice. However, 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.
The Booksellers Association of Switzerland is also opposing Amazon:
The Booksellers Association of Switzerland is of the strong opinion that closed generic gTLD applications have to be invalidated when submitted by commercial entities operating in a sector of activity related to the closed generic gTLD .
In the case of a closed generic TLD like .books, the exclusivity granted to the winning applicant would de facto strengthen the position of a single big operator in the book industry and would be detrimental to the industry as a whole.
Think I see a trend!
By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions. Visit the blog maintained by Michele Neylon here.

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