The gTLD Land Grab Controversy: Google, Amazon, and the GAC Part II

Here is Part I of Tiffany’s series on the gTLD Land Grab Controversy.

Just one of the reasons Amazon and Google are garnering so much attention as new gTLDs (nTLDs) make their way through ICANN’s application process is the sheer number of their applications (read about the other reason, here). Google applied for the administration rights to 98 different nTLDs (after withdrawing three applications), while Amazon applied for the rights to 77 nTLDs. Early Warnings were issued late last month by the GAC, and some issued by Australia to Amazon, touch on the controversy surrounding the notable “land grab” that both Google and Amazon are participating in.

What is a ‘Land Grab’?

“Land grabbing” used to refer to a large-scale acquisition of land by a single entity. That definition doesn’t change, when referring to gTLDs, except that the land is the new gtlds land grab controversyvirtual. Many argue that nTLDs represent “new frontier” in Internet real estate. And while no one really knows what effect nTLDs will have on how users interface with the Web, many who keep watch on the application process seem concerned that Google and Amazon are applying for such a large amount of nTLDs, citing the common repercussions of a land grab – pricing smaller organizations, communities, and entities out of the market, thereby creating a monopoly.

Who’s Objecting?

Australia may be the only country to issue a GAC Early Warning concerning Amazon’s land grab, but bloggers and tech magazines have been discussing the implications of Amazon and Google obtaining so much nTLD land since the applications were filed. For anyone connected to the online world of writing, music, apps, cloud storage, or any other market represented by the gTLDs Amazon and Google are applying for, the amount of applications coupled with restrictions to third party access may affect the way you’re able to connect with nTLDs as a register.

Most contention centers on the fact that both Amazon and Google plan to use many nTLDs exclusively, without allowing third party registrars to open independent registrations, or without allowing single entities to register domains and obtain full ownership, boxing competitors and other potential registers out of their gTLD space.

What’s the Solution?

Right now, the solution is fuzzy. While the GAC has issued their Early Warnings  and heeding the Early Warnings is strongly recommended, Amazon and Google don’t have to comply with all GAC warnings, since the GAC will not be making the final calls on applications – ICANN will. Amazon and Google can also change their exclusivity policies to make them more transparent, and to allow third party purchases of their gTLD domains. Keeping the market open on their end may help squelch the land grab controversy, since others will be able to register common term gTLDs for their own use.

And, not everyone agrees that Amazon’s and Google’s move to purchase administration rights to dozens of nTLDs is in the wrong – some believe that gTLDs are an open market, and therefore the power of purchase dictates who gets administration rights. Twitter and Facebook chose not to apply for any gTLDs, while other large corporations, like Yahoo! only applied for gTLDs related to their brands and trademarks. It may be too early to tell if Google and Amazon actually pose a risk to healthy nTLD development, and the inconsistency of how big corporations are interacting with nTLDs complicates putting forth an accurate prediction.

What’s Your Take?

What do you think of Google and Amazon applying for the rights to so many nTLDs? Is this a move that might affect the industry you’re a part of, or do you feel comfortable getting your piece of the pie, even if Google and Amazon are successful in their bids for multiple nTLDs? Let us know in the “comments” section below.

For more information on nTLDs, check out our handy dandy nTLD guide. To read more about Amazon and Google, and the controversy surrounding their applications for “generic term gTLDs,” click here.


Comments
Harvey Specter
Posted at 4:19 pm January 14, 2013
New gTLDs
Author

Some argue that material changes to applications, including changes to operating business models and who may register a domain name under a new tld is not allowed.
If that holds true, then Amazon, Google, L’oreal and other closed generic bids would not be able to change their applications to suit GAC Warnings and Advice.
The GAC communique from the Toronto ICANN meeting indicates flexibility on the part of the GAC in this regard.

But ultimately the decision lies with the Board of ICANN