Online retail giant Amazon.com is among the biggest names to enter the fray for new web addresses being auctioned off through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' (ICANN) generic top-level domain (gTLD) program. Commercial competitors and publishing industry associations are pushing back, however, suggesting that the company's digital copyrighting ambitions may be anticompetitive.
Amazon is seeking control of dozens of new domain names, according to The Wall Street Journal, but some are more controversial than others. For example, while the .kindle and .prime suffixes logically correlate with specific components of the company's product and service mix, others such as .book, .read, .movie and .app could be overly broad.
"Placing such generic domain in private hands is plainly anticompetitive, allowing already dominant, well-capitalized companies to expand and entrench their market power," wrote Authors Guild president Scott Turow, in an appeal to ICANN. "The potential for abuse seems limitless."
The viability of antitrust lawsuits could hinge on the concept of consumer preference, according to Reuters, and prosecutors may have a tough time proving that future readers will prefer websites ending in .book as opposed to .com when searching for literature. Also, ICANN may have a strong counterargument in the fact that the gTLD program effectively opens up a host of new competitive alternatives for authors and publishers to pursue.