Sex.com: Internet Will Not be Crippled

Sex.com Monday scoffed at VeriSign’s claims that the
Internet is so unstable that the appellate court victory by Sex.com in its
lawsuit against the registrar “would cripple the Internet and jeopardize the
national economic benefit for e-commerce.”


In the latest barb of the protracted legal battle between the adult content
search engine and the Web’s largest registrar, Sex.com Founder and CEO Gary
Kremen said the attempt by VeriSign to cry foul over the ruling issued
in January by an appellate court shows that VeriSign has “dug a hole so deep
and they can’t dig themselves out of it.”


In January 2003, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco went to
the state Supreme Court to intervene and decide whether a domain name is
property that can be converted as well as guidance to assess damages that
might amount to $100 million. One week later, VeriSign, known as Network
Solutions Inc. (NSI) when the multi-tiered case began, pleaded to the
Supreme Court in a brief that a ruling in Sex.com’s favor would effectively
cripple the way the Web works.


Sex.com said the VeriSign plea, part of a last-ditch effort to secure a
victory in its favor, is predicated on assumptions that a court decision
acknowledging the property rights of domain names registrants will devastate
business mediums, having “enormous ramifications for a large sector of
similar service providers, including cable television service and telephone
service providers.”


Kremen’s attorney, Jim Wagstaffe, said the brief was the latest attempt by
NSI to evade responsibility for the issue.


“NSI is telling its customers that their domain names aren’t really theirs
to keep,” Wagstaffe said. “NSI wants to reap 21st century profits, but not
to be subject to 21st century law,” Wagstaffe said.


Sex.com, now wholly owned and operated by Grant Media, tabbed other
supporters to quash the VeriSign’s crippled Internet claim, perhaps none
more convincing than its own domain name expert witness in the Sex.com
litigation, Ellen Rony.


“NSI insists that requiring of it a duty to care for the domain name
registrations of customers would threaten the survival of all registrars,
raise fees to unacceptable levels and somehow disable the Internet
worldwide,” said Rony, who has written books on domain-related issues. “Such
hyperbole miscasts the issue at bar. Kremen asks to hold NSI accountable for
its misdeeds in facilitating the re-registration of Sex.com to an
unauthorized third party and violating its own published policies. Kremen
merely seeks the remedial rights that California affords owners of
property.”


VeriSign does not comment on ongoing litigation.


The case as it stands now hinges on whether NSI will be held accountable for
unilaterally taking the Sex.com domain name from Kremen. In 1995, NSI handed
over the domain to Stephen Cohen after he sent a forged letter to NSI
headquarters. NSI failed to verify the authenticity of the letter and signed
over the domain rights to Cohen, who proceeded to make the domain into a
major pornographic business. After Kremen won a $65 million judgment against Cohen, Cohen fled the country and has
remained a fugitive.


Kremen claimed NSI did not properly protect his property. NSI claims that
domain names aren’t property and they cannot be held responsible for giving
its customers’ registered names away.

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