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Sex.com Settles Case Against VeriSign 165

Posted by michael
from the sex-appeal dept.
netcentr writes "A press release on CircleID has announced that the owner of the Sex.com domain name today has got 'a final settlement with VeriSign (formerly Network Solutions, Inc.), concluding a six-year legal fight that set several important precedents for the future of the Internet. After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Sex.Com a sweeping victory that held VeriSign/Network Solutions, Inc. (collectively "VeriSign") strictly responsible for mishandling the famous domain name, Sex.Com and VeriSign have settled Sex.Com's lawsuit against VeriSign.' Gary Kremen was awarded a $65 million judgment against Cohen for stealing the domain name, which the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn on June 12, 2003."
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Sex.com Settles Case Against VeriSign

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  • by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:32PM (#8921526) Homepage Journal
    Ah... good thing they got that taken care of. I was so starved for pr0n for the last six years.

    Really - like there aren't enough of these sites out there?
  • Yay! (Score:4, Funny)

    by TWX (665546) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:33PM (#8921542)
    So the courts finally come out and say that sex should be on the internet!

    Millions of smelly UNIX administrators breathe a sigh of relief.
  • Oh well $65 million for SEX (.com) has to be a new record...

    Even our former mayor of Cincinnati, didn't write a Check that.. good ol' Jerry Springer.

    SEX (.com) has to be the most successful prostitution of a domain name yet :)
  • I love the fact that such a case with such a precident has happened over a site with such a same

    Goooo Sex.com!!!!
  • Blank Page? (Score:1, Informative)

    by bishop32x (691667)
    Is anyone else seeing a blank page for the article?

    no more RTFA

    • Re:Blank Page? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DaHat (247651)
      You're not the only one... it acts like a page is being Dled, and a view source reveals page code... just no text is being displayed in IE, Firefox seems to work, shame I'm still an IE person.
    • Just let your browser sit on it a bit longer, It sat blank for a while, IE said done loading, and then it suddenly appeared....

  • Astounding (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yi Ding (635572) <yi@studenti[ ]bt.com ['nde' in gap]> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:34PM (#8921561)
    Yeah, it completely astounds me how Verisign was unable to write a line of code which would have given the guy back his domain, which was clearly stolen from him.
    • Re:Astounding (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ravensfire (209905) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:35PM (#8921589) Homepage
      Hang on - you wanted them to ADMIT their mistake, without a court order? Right ....

      Good grief - what hill have you been living under?!?

      -- Ravensfire
    • From my understanding of the situation, they refused to give it back even after the owner showed that it had been "stolen."

      They gave it away, and instead of fessing up to their mistake, we got this crap.
    • Re:Astounding (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:40PM (#8921662) Homepage Journal
      There was obviously no technical reason Verisign couldn't transfer the domain back to its rightful owner. They make have said there was, but they were, of course, lying. (And, on a tangential rant: the liars at Verisign, like all the other liars at big corporations who routinely lie to cover their fuckups, should go to prison. But they won't.) There is a pathological desire on the part of these corporate pricks to avoid admitting ever that they made a mistake, so they come up with bullshit excuses.
    • by archen (447353)
      This is Verisign we're talking about here. It would be a miricle if they could write a line of code that tells them if the sky is blue.
    • Re:Astounding (Score:5, Informative)

      by jjohnson (62583) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @05:26PM (#8922267) Homepage
      In the mid-late 90s, domain registrars were explicitly avoiding fixing their mistakes on legal counsel's advice, namely that to fix a mistake was to admit liability for that mistake, and to admit liability for that mistake was to open oneself up to damages in the millions. Thus, they all took the legal position that they weren't responsible for anything they did until it was proven otherwise.

      Stupid from a common sense point of view, smart from a business point of view. I can think of a lot of domain name fuckups that, could the owner have sued, would have sunk the registrars. As it is, they've avoided huge lawsuits for the last 8 years.

      It took a domain name with the potential money behind it of sex.com to push it all the way through the courts to the current situation.
  • Good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BoomerSooner (308737) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:34PM (#8921568) Homepage Journal
    Screw verisign, they suck. Without their monopoly they wouldn't have been able to extort people and give the shittiest service ever.

    I hope it's for the full $65 Million.
    • Re:Good (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DAldredge (2353)
      I see you have never had to deal with the goverment.

      Just wait.

      They make vs cs look perfect.
    • Re:Good (Score:2, Informative)

      by nilloc (678273)
      From what I read, Verisign settle the case the original owner. The $65 million award is aganist the guy who stole it. The article didn't say how much Verisign had to paid.
  • o.O (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:34PM (#8921569)
    I, for one, welcome our rightful sex.com overlords
  • 2nd post? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:34PM (#8921574)
    VeriSign is bad news(for years thay would not let you put "fu*k" in your domain name)

    The base VeriSign site:
    http://www.recallverisign.com

    Check out this page by GoDaddy.com about VeriSign: https://www.godaddy.com/gdshop/PressReleases/inter net_battle.asp?isc=&se=%2B&from%5Fapp=
  • by radd0 (558899) <radman@nosPaM.acid.org> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:36PM (#8921597) Homepage Journal
    until George Michael catches wind of this.
  • I notice (Score:5, Funny)

    by platypibri (762478) <brian.platypionline@com> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:36PM (#8921600) Homepage Journal
    there is no such battle over intellect.com [intellect.com]
  • Why so much (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Teclis (772299) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:36PM (#8921602) Homepage
    $65 Million? Are you telling me that's the amount of profit lost? Or that's the amount it cost to run the case through the courts..

    I bet all the lawyers involved are smiling, You do know they aren't that stupid. The case could have been settled 5 years ago, but then how could lawyers make any money?

    Good to see the U.S. Justice system at work.

    • Re:Why so much (Score:5, Informative)

      by mehtajr (718558) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:51PM (#8921804)

      $25 million of the award was punitive damages, so presumably, the other $40 million was compensatory (lost profits) and legal fees (probably mostly legal fees).

      Interestingly, those damages were awarded by a judge, not a jury. Here's a link [law.com]. I would've expected a smaller judgement from the bench.

    • Re:Why so much (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I wouldn't doubt that the amount lost during the years that Kremen was denied use of the domain name reached into the millions. After all, this was 1995, the start of the web boom. I don't remember how many years Cohen ran that site, but I can just imagine the $$$ rolling in.

      And as a side note, since Cohen fled the country, Kremen will not see a dime from Cohen anyway.
    • From what I recall of the original case, sex.com was bringing in a million dollars a year in advertising revenue (banners), at least at the height of the boom.
    • The thief made much much more than $65mil.
    • well, he got awarded $65M. however, Cohen went bankrupt right away. And in any case never had this kind of money.

  • by MrRuslan (767128) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:36PM (#8921609)
    http://www.narvakitchens.com/CircleID.pdf
  • by Otter (3800) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:37PM (#8921617) Journal
    ...which the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn on June 12, 2003...

    Next up on the agenda for Rehnquist and company: goatse.cx v. .cx

    I bet they thought being on the Court was going to involve dignity. OK, Thomas probably learned otherwise before he got his robe but the others likely did.

  • Baaah (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:37PM (#8921619)
    I wanted to register www.sex.orgy a loonnggg time back. But they wouldn't give me the extra 'y'.
  • Verisign itself bought the domain name "ohfuck.com".
  • by billstewart (78916) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:37PM (#8921628) Journal
    The press release doesn't say whether it was the full $65million or some smaller amount, or how long Verisign would have to pay. Google News [google.com] has pointers to one or two versions of the press release, plus Slashdot (:-), plus a Wired article [wired.com] that has the press release but also speculated that the settlement is probably a lot less than the full boat, and some comments on Kremen's attempts to track down the assets of Cohen the name thief.
  • I havent checked that site for a long time and I just took a quick look at it. damn cant that guy hire a deceant web designer. while the other guy stole it at least it was asteticly pleasing.
  • Finally. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 7Ghent (115876) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:41PM (#8921671) Homepage
    Well, it's great that the good guys finally won and defeated the spectre of Verisign's vast incompentence and utter lack of responsibility, but SIX YEARS? I don't even want to think about the legal fees. There's definitely something wrong with our justice system when a stright-forward case of theft takes SIX years and millions of dollars to successfully prosecute.
    • Re:Finally. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well, it's great that the good guys finally won and defeated the spectre of Verisign's vast incompentence and utter lack of responsibility, but SIX YEARS?

      That is not so surprising when you consider that the very core of (then)Verisign's domain name registration service was being questioned in court. If the registrant can't trust that the registrar will protect their name, what rightful-thinking registrant would use that registrar?

      There's definitely something wrong with our justice system when a stright-f

  • I interviewed there. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:41PM (#8921681)
    I interviewed at sex.com or as they like to be known "deerfield communications". Place was run out of the basment of an abandoned building. Not realy what I was looking for in a job.
    • I interviewed at sex.com or as they like to be known "deerfield communications". Place was run out of the basment of an abandoned building. Not realy what I was looking for in a job.

      Perfectly understandable. I find that 1st floors of abondoned buildings give me so much more work satisfaction.
  • by David Hume (200499) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @04:50PM (#8921789) Homepage

    You can find the decision by the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit at:
    Kremen, et al. v. Online Classifieds Inc., et al. [uscourts.gov] (pdf warning)

    To get the html version, paste this url:

    http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/ca9/newopinions.nsf/ 99 9D1D5B0D734B6088256D6D0078CB88/$file/0115899.pdf?o penelement

    into the Adobe PDF Conversion Page [adobe.com].

  • by burgburgburg (574866) <<moc.liame> <ta> <60neksilps>> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @05:01PM (#8921916)
    My favorite part of all this is that "at a time when the queue for domain names was over four weeks", all it took to commit this crime was "Cohen simply picked up the phone, asked for and was granted the Sex.Com domain name immediately".

    Am I the only one who suspects that there was a lot more than just a phone call behind this? That people high up in Verisign must have been conspiring with Cohen? Why else go through so much to keep obviously stolen property from it's rightful owner? Why lie to the courts about a supposedly forged letter if you weren't covering for something much worse?

    • Yes, it must be a conspiracy.

      Remember, if they're really out to get you, you aren't paranoid.

      As to why they didn't fess up, I read an interesting post above. Basically registrars were not fixing mistakes/thefts to avoid admitting legal responsibility. Sounds more plausible than a conspiracy to me.
      • Or it could have been something as simple as Cohen saying "Well then, how much would it take to buy sex.com? Would a million dollars be enough?" and Verisign saying "Um, well, since you put it that way..."

        Never attribute to conspiracy what can be explained by plain old greed and bribery :)

    • Why else go through so much to keep obviously stolen property from it's rightful owner?

      although i agree w/ you on every point, the difficulty was that the domain name sex.com wasn't property & therefore couldn't be stolen...sounds ludicrous, but there it was. were they morons? yes. dickheads, absolutely.

    • Am I the only one who suspects that there was a lot more than just a phone call behind this? That people high up in Verisign must have been conspiring with Cohen? Why else go through so much to keep obviously stolen property from it's rightful owner? Why lie to the courts about a supposedly forged letter if you weren't covering for something much worse?

      While I'm certainly not saying that it's impossible, I also think that the sheer incompetence they displayed is enough to want to cover up; no further co

  • by pdcryan (748847) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @05:02PM (#8921925) Homepage
    Very interesting.

    Not all of the pieces of the puzzle are in place yet but it looks like VeriSign is finally being pegged as a state actor. What does that mean? Well, all of those annoying parts of the constitution that apply to governments, but not to private parties... might apply to them (little things... like... due process maybe?).

    Further - if domain names are property (which is contrary to some lot of previous court precedent - partially based on the idea that domain names are only protected in so much as they are trademarks, which generally cannot be transferred without transferring the good will of the company behind the trademark) VeriSign has some further problems. When they bumble these things, not only are they violating the domain owners due process rights - but it might be a constitutional "taking" - requiring compensation.

    Hopefully finding that VeriSign is a state actor, and that there is a property interest in a domain name - will be the final nail in SiteFinder's coffin (which essentially would be conversion of all of the unregistered domain names).

    Anybody interested in being the .net and .com domain registry? I have a feeling ICANN might be looking to fill some positions soon.
    • Well, all of those annoying parts of the constitution that apply to governments, but not to private parties... might apply to them (little things... like... due process maybe?).

      If the FCC (a state actor if there ever was one) can still arbitrary levy fines on Howard and Bono (and the companies that give them airtime) for incidents that may have occurred several years ago without due process, what hope do we have that Verisign will ever be held to the proper standards?
      • If the FCC (a state actor if there ever was one) can still arbitrary levy fines on Howard and Bono (and the companies that give them airtime) for incidents that may have occurred several years ago without due process, what hope do we have that Verisign will ever be held to the proper standards?

        Remember that the FCC Commissioner [fcc.gov] is appointed by the President [216.239.57.104] (google cache)... and that this is an election year. If you care, use your power and vote them out.

  • How long before he transfers the domain?
    ______________________
    Registrant:
    Kre m en, Gary (SEX452-DOM)
    Grant Media, LLC
    2544 3rd Street
    San Francisco, CA 94107
    US

    Domain Name: SEX.COM

    Administrative Contact:
    Kremen, Gary (GK3508) gkremen@AOL.COM
    Grant Media, LLC
    2544 3RD ST
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94107-3113
    US
    415 647 5111 fax: 415 285 7111

    Technical Contact:
    Payne, Lewis De (LDP3) administrador@pkventures.com
    PK Media Ventures, Inc.
    Avenida Cuba y Calle 34
    Edificio 34-20
    Panama, Panama Panama
    PA
    011- 227-2658 fax: (818) 506-0699

    R
    • If you had bothered to paste the first part of the whois you would display the fact that Kremen can not change the domain himself anymore:

      Domain Name: SEX.COM
      Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, INC.
      Whois Server: whois.networksolutions.com
      Referral URL: http://www.networksolutions.com
      Name Server: NS2.PERSIANKITTY.COM
      Name Server: NS1.SEX.COM
      Status: REGISTRAR-LOCK
      Updated Date: 03-dec-2003
      Creation Date: 18-oct-1995
      Expiration Date: 17-oct-2012

      I guess it's just going to s

  • Sex.com? (Score:4, Funny)

    by bfg9000 (726447) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @06:05PM (#8922694) Homepage Journal
    Why should we care? This is obviously not something that will ever affect us geeks. Now, HabitualSelfPleasure.com, *there's* News For Nerds, Stuff That Matters.
  • by Audacious (611811)
    It is also a landmark case because now we know who's had sex and who hasn't.

    (I'll just go back to playing my video games now. You know - the ones with the simulated sex. :-P )
  • I guess it makes sense that Verisign would wind up in the Ninth Circle. Oh, wait. That was Ninth Circuit.
  • by hmhoek (211477) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @09:50PM (#8924568)
    I had just started at a small recruiting shop and he was around in various unspecified capacities. We started talking one night and he was really excited about showing me how he owned sex.com. He did a whois, which had his name, then logged into the sex.com servers and poked around a little. He then bragged about the cashflow and the offers to buy from Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler.

    He also asked all the secretaries to pose naked, used the company phones to call Nevada brothels for business advice and other shady activities.

    I was later deposed as a witness for a sexual harassment case against the company because of his behavior (he was not an employee but rather an acquaintence of the owner) and the behavior of other sales people. The company's attorneys were in the process of searching for him at that time, which was around 2000 or 2001.

    I can't wait for him to finally get caught. He reminds me of Robert Vesco; he's probably funding Al Queda or Russian prostitution rings or something now.
  • I met the thief (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gbulmash (688770) <semi_famous&yahoo,com> on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @01:31AM (#8925927) Homepage Journal
    Oddly enough, when I was a salesperson at the Circuit City in Huntington Beach, CA, I sold a VCR to Steve Cohen, the guy who stole sex.com.

    This was within a couple of months of him getting the domain. He was bragging about how he owned it and how he'd already been offered a million dollars to sell it, but he was going to hold on to it because he thought it was worth a lot more.

    Guess it was.

    - Greg

  • by adzoox (615327) * on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @07:12AM (#8927100) Journal
    How The Grinch Stole Sex.com [macboy.com] - a very funny flash cartoon with a little background on the story and the legal matter.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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