Amazon books an epic Web battle

Amazon wants the .book domain all for itself -- and it may succeed if ICANN's latest Internet address insanity goes through

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The fix is in

Of course, there are other reasons for foisting hundreds of new domains onto a world that's barely aware of any besides .com, .org, and .edu. One is to create massive new revenue streams for domain registrars. Their executives, not coincidentally, fill many of the seats on various ICANN committees.

Take the proposed TLD .sucks, for example. According to its original application, the idea behind .sucks is to create "a focal point for customer service" -- essentially, to establish a place where unhappy customers can complain, far from the madding crowds on Facebook and Twitter. It doesn't take an evil genius to figure out how a registrar could extract a handsome ransom from deep-pocketed companies who feel compelled to buy that Internet address just to keep others from using it, as they do with the .xxx domains.

If you were Starbucks, how much would you be willing to pay to own As much as it takes. That's a lotta lattes.

The company that first proposed the TLD .sucks is a domain registrar called Vox Populi, which is itself wholly owned by Canadian registrar Momentous. The CEO of Vox Populi, John Berard, sits on ICANN's Business Constituency committee. See how this works?

Now it's up to ICANN to decide whether individual entities like Amazon should be allowed exclusive control over generic domains like .book. ICANN also gets to decide which of the 13 companies vying over .app or the seven companies seeking .cloud win the day, as well as whether the proposed TLD .unicom is too similar to .unicorn. Think of the confusion among "Harry Potter" fans alone.

ICANN's new CEO Fadi Chehade (say it out loud) has promised new TLDs will begin rolling out by April 23, so the real circus is about to start. Grab some peanuts and cracker jacks, it ought to be an entertaining show.

Will ICANN ever get it right? Should Amazon be allowed to own .book, etc? Post your thoughts below or email me:

This article, "Amazon books an epic Web battle," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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