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A tale of evil from the early days of the internet

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For us, it is already clear that they have behaved unspeakably. They are an officially appointed monopoly. They are supposed to assign domain names to people who apply for them, but have chosen, instead, to rent them out. And we now learn that Kremen and his legal team suspect that Cohen has a girlfriend inside the registrar corporation, and they're trying to get the Judge to compel them to provide evidence by asking for documents.

"NSI [Network Solutions Inc] was stating in filings that Kremen had no right to the domain - in fact, it was saying that no one had any right to any domain, and it could do with them whatever it wished.

"The problem was that Carreon [Kremen's lawyer at this point] didn't have a lot to work with. Months of legal work became effectively worthless after [the Judge] Ware refused to order NSI to hand over the documents Carreon wanted."

The clash between the judge and Charles Carreon is a lovely vignette in the story. Carreon is a brilliant lawyer - when creating paper, and investigating. But in court, he's a long-haired hippy with a pony tail; and a wretchedly bad advocate. It's quite clear he rubbed the Judge up the wrong way:

"Ware wanted to know if Carreon had evidence that NSI knew the Dimmick letter was forged, or if he could prove that Cohen was sleeping with someone inside NSI and was using them as an inside man (or rather, woman) to push domain transfers through the system. Carreon knew the chances of his being able to prove either, even if he had more time, were remote. But he was determined to try to get Ware to see the bigger picture. NSI should have known that the Dimmick letter was a forgery. If he could prove that, Judge Ware might just start listening to his other arguments."

And at this critical point, Kremen's legal team finds Ellen Rony.

"Outside of Network Solutions' own staff, Ellen Rony was perhaps the most knowledgeable person on the planet about how the domain-name system worked in reality, and how NSI interacted with it. Not only was she one of the people there from the very earliest days of the internet, but she had decided to build an historical resource about its formation and its politics over time. In many ways, she knew more than NSI about the company's approach to domains.

"Rony had already written the definitive book on internet domains; she had worked alongside NSI for years, and she had been asked by the US Government, the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and numerous other international bodies to present her expert views. In short, she was the perfect witness."

And she delivered. On point after point where Kremen suggested that NSI had a policy which specifically supported his position and specifically ruled against NSI's actions, Rony testified that this was the case. "Had NSI followed its own notification procedures...it would have quickly learned the true nature of the facts," she concluded.

Recognising that Rony's testimony could put them in line to have to pay an awful lot of compensation, NSI directors took prompt action:

"And so, on the afternoon of 23 February 2000, NSI's legal frontman Philip Sbarbaro, with a second lawyer listening in, took an extraordinary risk, and called up Ellen Rony at home, to warn her off the case.

"He started off by telling Rony that Charles Carreon was a 'loony' unpredictable and untrustworthy, and warned that she was 'going against NSI', for which she would suffer consequences."

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