January 25, 2002 10:20 AM PST

EFF joins Sex.com case

A technology civil liberties group is jumping into a dispute between the owner of the Sex.com Web address and domain name provider VeriSign.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation said it filed a brief this week with a federal appeals court on behalf of Gary Kremen, the original owner of the Sex.com address. Kremen lost the domain name to another porn entrepreneur and then won it back after a protracted legal battle.

In it's brief, the EFF asked the court to hold VeriSign, which now owns the Net name registrar that transferred the Web address, responsible for the error. VeriSign acquired registrar Network Solutions in 2000.

"A court has ruled that (Network Solutions) can screw up its monopoly on dot-com domain name management and face no consequence for its actions," EFF Attorney Robin Gross said in a statement announcing the court filing. "We hope the appellate court will recognize the danger in eliminating all accountability for this key component of Internet governance."

Kremen lost the Sex.com address after Stephen Cohen tricked Network Solutions into giving him the name. Network Solutions had a monopoly on domain names at the time. A court ordered Cohen, who is still at large, to pay Kremen $65 million and give up the domain name. However, the judge also said VeriSign wasn't liable, a ruling Kremen appealed.

Many of the cases the EFF takes on involve free speech and consumer rights in an increasingly wired world, but some of its officials have said they plan to watch disputes surrounding domain names more closely. The organization usually joins cases that reach beyond a particular individual to affect the Internet community at large.

VeriSign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

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