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Register.com Loses Class action Lawsuit 454

Anonymous Blowhard writes "I found out today I am a member of a class that just beat register.com in New York Supreme Court!! The suit was filed by Michael Zurakov because register.com pointed his newly registered domain(s) to 'coming soon' web pages. Mr. Zurakov receives $12,500 for the harm caused by register.com while members of the class can look forward to a settlement of $5 off their next domain renewals. Register.com will also pay 'reasonable Class Counsel attorneys' fees and costs in an amount not to exceed $642,500.00, subject to Court approval.' If you want to exclude yourself from the class, giving up any settlement and not being bound by its terms, you have to opt-out."
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Register.com Loses Class action Lawsuit

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  • by turnstyle ( 588788 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:24AM (#6919638) Homepage
    Isn't a Coming Soon page pretty common for most new domains?
  • damages? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lseltzer ( 311306 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:24AM (#6919641)
    $12.5K for that? How was he harmed? He had tools to point it elsewhere.
  • by the_bahua ( 411625 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:27AM (#6919657) Homepage Journal
    In one of the most recently settled tobacco company CA suits, the lawyers fees alone were in the billions. Class action lawyers are working in the honeypot of litigative law.
  • Lawyer Spam! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NoSuchGuy ( 308510 ) <do-not-harvest-m ... dot@spa.mtrap.de> on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:30AM (#6919670) Journal
    You have to opt out to exclude yourself from a class action suit? - What a world!
  • by CrazyJoel ( 146417 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:31AM (#6919673)
    Just stupid. I've got several sites registered on register.com. I don't see what is so offensive about having a Coming Soon page until it switches to your DNS. That's like 2 days?

    What an idiot!

    Now, he's costing them $600,000. Which ain't pocket change. I hope they can handle it. They've done pretty good. Customer service is okay. A little slow, but they answer their phones.
  • Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gclef ( 96311 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:34AM (#6919682)
    He didn't win. It was a settlement. Register decided to settle, rather than fight this stupid lawsuit. Note: the lawyer made more money than anyone else in this stupid little charade.

    Is it obvious that I'm not exactly impressed with this? Register initially pointed his domain to a "coming soon" page when he registered his domain, and they should have put that they would do this in their contract, fair enough. Is that worthy of a lawsuit? Hell no. Is that worthy of hundreds of thousands of dollars in "damages"? Hell no.
  • Re:Harm? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sirius_bbr ( 562544 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:34AM (#6919684)
    What exactly is the harm in a coming soon website?

    I think the harm is that register.com can use these coming-soon-websites to get advertising revenue by putting adds on 'property' (the domain) they don't own.
  • by fuckfuck101 ( 699067 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:36AM (#6919692)
    But this is the kind of stuff we here in the UK hear about Americans, if they trip over because they're drunk they sue their shoe companies, or the council who made the pavement.

    This is a real turn-off, it portrays Americans in a really bad light, I know your corporates are all like this but do you the people need to be to?
  • why to sue? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jlemmerer ( 242376 ) <xcom123@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:37AM (#6919693) Homepage
    I think that register.com wanted to offer a service, because maybe in their eyes a "coming soon" page is better than a 404 page. It would have been better (in my opinion) to just write them that you don't want to have this "service" than to suing them. But you can see this as you want...
  • Won the law suit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eadz ( 412417 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:37AM (#6919694) Homepage
    You get $5
    Lawyer gets : $642,500 ... so who really won?
  • Re:Sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:41AM (#6919709) Journal
    Is that worthy of a lawsuit? Hell no.
    This guy probably saw this as a way to make some easy money. Yup, his free $12,5k is costing the company over $600k. Guess who will pay for all that in the end?

    Now ISPs will either remove these 'under construction' pages or be more specific about them in their contracts. Watch for the next leech who sues his ISP for not providing an 'under construction' page resulting in a DNS error message. Sigh. I am beginning to appreciate my own country's legal system more and more... over here, you have to provide (shock! gasp!) actual proof of damages or you get nothing.
  • Sue the Lawyers! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Azghoul ( 25786 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:44AM (#6919723) Homepage
    I mean, come on now. I read a post a while back here from some guy defending lawyers... and it made some sense. But then you get this kind of nonsense, which is quite obviously a frivolous lawsuit -- and noone really gets anything but the damn lawyers involved...

    And the lawyers wonder why we want the vast majority of them boiled in oil?

    Oooohhhh Ahhhhhh my domain name pointed to a shitty "coming soon" page for two days!! The humanity!! I want to go bitch slap that guy.
  • by EasyTarget ( 43516 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @07:53AM (#6919751) Journal
    Well, I guess the general population takes it's cues for behaviour from the rest of the population.

    If all they see in society and the media is spin, profit over ethics and threats (I'll sue you). Where the amount of money you have is generally the only relevent measure of somebody's value or 'worth'. Where everything you ever see, hear or read is distorted in some manner by these forces.

    How do you expect people to behave differently?

    Here in the UK things are nearly as bad. I personally reckon the BBC is probably the only thing that has stopped us decending to the unfortunate state the US has found itself in.

    So next time you hear of a little thieving toe-rag (oops, sorry, I meant underprivaleged young man who has fallen to peer-pressure) coming out with the usual excuses ('I brought it off a man in a pub', 'I was threatened by the way the old man ran away from me so I kicked his head in' etc..) blame the spin doctors and barristers.. The criminaly are just learning from the masters.

    Our lives are now nothing more than manipulation, external and internal.
  • by akiaki007 ( 148804 ) <aa316NO@SPAMnyu.edu> on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @08:00AM (#6919790)
    It used to be that the "American Dream" was owning a home. Now, it seems, it is to be able to find something that bothers you ever so slightly and then try to sue someone for it. The "American Dream" is to hire lawyers to take your case and to win a few bucks. If you do it right, you can get several million and invest it and retire at the age of 30. If you screw it up, like Sienfeld's Kramer, then you just keep on trying until you get that million bucks. That is the "American Dream." Screw buying a house. With a million bucks I can buy a mansion!
  • by Black Perl ( 12686 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @08:15AM (#6919890)
    That was terrible! Ads on the page, pop-under ads, and pop-away ads (which pop up when you leave the site). I'm feeling a little less sympathy for Register.com now.
  • by geschild ( 43455 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @08:20AM (#6919924) Homepage


    You get $5
    Lawyer gets : $642,500 ... so who really won?
    Not that I approve of the legalistic way in which many things seem to work in the US, but consider this: At least the lawyers did real work to earn the money. All that most of the others did was 'board' a pre-existing suit out of opportunistic reasons.

    The lawyers' fee does seem extravagant, but again, they take the burden and the risk. My point being: don't complain about the opportunistic behaviour of others, they are merely human too. (Yeah yeah, go on, make the obligatory lawyer jokes if you really must)
  • by EnglishTim ( 9662 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @08:32AM (#6920005)
    Like that never happens in the UK?

    There seems to be loads of ads on the TV now - "have you had an accident recently that wasn't your fault? Mrs Briggs of Smothersby broke her hip when a circus elephant went on the rampage, and she was awarded 57p!"
  • by __aavonx8281 ( 149913 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @08:41AM (#6920064)
    Its not stupid at all. Basically the guy paid for a domain name. Register.com put up a 'coming soon' page with their own advertising on it and didn't pay the guy for it. Register.com had no right to the domain name, before or after the sale. They can put up a nice page so you don't get a 404, but they shouldn't have been able to advertise on the page, even if its only for 24 hours, without the owner's consent. That was their own fault and they deserve to get sued for trying to get free advertising. How hard would it have been to put in some fine print on their site when you buy a domain letting you know you're going to have an advertisement page on your domain while you wait for DNS?
  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @08:45AM (#6920095)
    Here in the UK things are nearly as bad.

    I would have to disagree with that.

    1. In the UK, punitive damages are very rarely awarded. So you only get compensated for your actual provable costs probably something like 95% of the time. So, awards are typically something like 20-30% of what US awards for similar incidents are. (I don't have actual figures, but my impression from widely reported cases suggests that is true).

    2. It doesn't cost a fortune to defend an action. As a small company owner, if somebody got litigous with my company, I would almost certainly not be in the situation of having to settle because I couldn't afford the cost of defence. In the US that would almost certainly be the case.

    3. For some reason I don't entirely understand, costs awarded against the eventual loser of the case in the UK tend to be much lower anyway. This could be because there are stricter rules about what costs are eligible, I'm not certain. But you certainly rarely here about cases in which the costs have run in to millions, or even the hundreds of thousands like this case.
  • by turnstyle ( 588788 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:05AM (#6920274) Homepage
    But this problem even seems extend all the way down to newly installed Web servers that come with thier own default 'Welcome to your Web server' page (with links). IIS does it, Apache does it, everybody does it.

    Should they all be expected to change their Terms of Service too? "Warning: when you install Apache, it may include a default page with links to Apache and partner sites."

  • by jafiwam ( 310805 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:43AM (#6920582) Homepage Journal
    A "comming soon" web page has an important role to play in the process of a new site/domain. It tells visitors that may go there that a site may be appearing at some point, and to the uninformed layman, that the domain has been purchased by somebody. (Many internet users do not know what a registrar is, nor that they would be a necessary part of the domain name system.)

    An error message (which is the alternative) is an indication the domain does not exist, or is not functioning. Those are distinctly different responses from a "comming soon" sign.

    Furthermore, ALL of the registrars I have ever dealt with have some sort of "comming soon" page used until the hostnames could be set up properly for the actual web sites.

    Register.com is no different than anybody else on that respect. (NSI's is actually sort of nice, using "coming soon" in several different languages.)

    What Register.com did wrong (if anything) was to use that space for advertising of third parties, pop-ups and other BS. The pop up messages alone might be enough to inhibit someone from returning to the new domain later to see the real site. (Note, the lawsuit does not mention that, nor have I seen those, parent and other posters mentioned pop ups.)

    The class action lawsuit does not specify anything about advertisements (see section "III"), only that the "coming soon" page was not disclosed and that it caused damage to the plainif class. Any theoretical damage to the planiffs would be from the advertising that might damage the repuation or marketing of the organization that just purchased the domain, NOT from the fact a "coming soon" web page was put there.

    Well, I call bullshit on this lawsuit. I didnt get any fine print with my car saying that hey, if you put gas in the tank it is BURNED and you cant store it there for later use in a lawnmower. I got no notice that the twinkies I ate yesterday might get shit out in liquid form or in solid form. Any moron that thought about the process for 3 seconds would have come to the logical conclusion that a "coming soon" or "parking" page would be present for at least the amount of time it takes for the registration to take place and all the root servers to get the location of the long-term DNS servers.

    In general, a company anybody does business with (or anybody else or thing someone might sue) is NOT responsible for common sense information. My medicine bottles need not say "do not fire from potato gun at high velocity or injury or death may result" because it is common sense. My new kitchen knives do not say "do not swallow, even on an empty stomach" on them either. Admittedly, common sense is a a pretty low denominator nowdays, however this lawsuit goes WAY too far.

    The planiff is a moron. The lawyers are, well just lawyers I guess.

    The "opt out" of the class is something I have never seen before. The usual is to make cruddy TV or newspaper ads to try to get the class members (suckers) to sign up to fill up the lawyers pockets. When did "opt out" become into legit usage for this purpose? I bet those lawyers probably file bogus lawsuits for spammers too.
  • by elphkotm ( 574063 ) on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @09:46AM (#6920607) Homepage
    The sad thing is that the $650k that register.com is having to pay out will probably hurt some of their employees. It's not a very high margin business.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 10, 2003 @12:03PM (#6922074)
    "McLie No. 1: For years, McDonald's had known they had a problem with the way they make their coffee - that their coffee was served much hotter (at least 20 degrees more so) than at other restaurants."

    It wasn't a problem. Almost all of their customers liked it this way.

    "McLie No. 2: McDonald's knew its coffee sometimes caused serious injuries - more than 700 incidents of scalding coffee burns in the past decade have been settled by the Corporation - and yet they never so much as consulted a burn expert regarding the issue."

    Only if you spilled it on yourself like you were not supposed to. 700 incidents out of millions. Why consult a burn expert? Only an idiot would not know that hot means hot.

    "McLie No. 3: The woman involved in this infamous case suffered very serious injuries - third degree burns on her groin, thighs and buttocks that required skin grafts and a seven-day hospital stay."

    If you spill hot coffee in your crotch, it is your own fault.

    "McLie No. 4: The woman, an 81-year old former department store clerk who had never before filed suit against anyone, said she wouldn't have brought the lawsuit against McDonald's had the Corporation not dismissed her request for compensation for medical bills."

    Of course it should have been dismissed: it was her fault, not McDonald's.

    "McLie No. 5: A McDonald's quality assurance manager testified in the case that the Corporation was aware of the risk of serving dangerously hot coffee"

    So they labeled the coffee Hot. big deal.

    "McLie No. 6: After careful deliberation, the jury found McDonald's was liable because the facts were overwhelmingly against the company."

    The facts were overwhelmingly in favor of the company: they did not spill the coffee!. The jury was not careful since they ignored the obvious.

    "McFact No. 7: On appeal, a judge lowered the award to $480,000, a fact not widely publicized in the media."

    This is a fact, and it was reported all over the media. Of course, 1 cent is too much, so this sum is outrageous.

    "McLie No. 8: A report in Liability Week, September 29, 1997, indicated that Kathleen Gilliam, 73, suffered first degree burns when a cup of coffee spilled onto her lap. Reports also indicate that McDonald's consistently keeps its coffee at 185 degrees, still approximately 20 degrees hotter than at other restaurants."

    That is the way the customers like it. In fact, McDonald's has received a large number of complaints (far more than 700) since they made their coffee colder in response to the frivolous lawsuit. No one has a problem with the coffee unless they choose to pour it into their crotch.

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