13 Jun 06

The book:

It's been a very long time since I've done an update, for the very simple reason that I decided just to get my head down and write, avoiding any distractions along the way. But the book has entered a new stage, so I figured I'd mention it quickly.

The main difficulty in writing the book has been the enormous wealth of information, and while researching it, I have continually come across new sides to the case. I suppose it was naive to believe that with two characters like Stephen Cohen and Gary Kremen who had been fighting one another for a decade that there wasn't going to be reams of information.

The good news is that I believe I have finally hit the end of it, have read and covered virtually every aspect and now it's just a matter of getting what I haven't written down and then tidying it up. This is the big, big minus of extensive research: it takes a long time, you agonise over what you are forced to chop out and at the end of the day the finished product isn't all *that* different. But it is strange how your understanding of the self-same events is changed as you learn more about what led up to them. The book should end up better because of it.

Anyway, in part of this editing spree I am on now, I realised that the start of my Preface to the book was in fact more of a back-page blurb, so I am going to cut it out the book and hopefully it will be used as the enticing draw for people browing in bookshops. Here it is in full:

It was the world’s biggest word on the world’s largest stage, so perhaps it was inevitable that the first great battle of the digital age would occur over Sex.com.

Tens of millions of dollars. Hundreds of lawyers, businessmen, private investigators, porn stars, bankers, journalists. It reached the highest court of the most powerful country in the world. Twice. It defined a whole new area of law, became a byline for wild excess, and a poster child for the Internet revolution. But most of all it saw two extraordinary men risk everything they had, including their lives, to get hold of it.

It is the most valuable piece of online real estate in existence, the Internet’s Holy Grail; it is Sex.com, and this book will tell for the first time its incredible tale.

How a geek businessman saw his most valuable possession stolen from right under his nose by a genius con-man who used it wage war on the adult industry and build himself a $100 million fortune - a fortune then used to ruin the businessman’s legal fightback.

It will cover how that businessman used the financial madness of the dotcom boom to fight fire with fire and fund an epic battle against both the con-man and the Internet’s most powerful company, Network Solutions. He would ultimately win against both, against the odds, but not before hitting the depths of a drug addiction, and facing almost certain bankruptcy.

Sordid affairs and spectacular break-ups, ruinous lawsuits, the theft of court documents, a nationwide manhunt, a gunfight, illegal offshore accounts, international stock scams, multi-million-dollar court judgements, a trashed mansion in one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods of California, and at the centre of it the two men - Gary Kremen and Stephen Cohen - regularly in touch by phone, goading, commiserating, mocking and joking with each other.

No strategy was too devious, no approach too risky. From day one, it was a high-stakes game with a worldly fortune guaranteed to the victor and the promise of ruination to the loser. It pitched a Stanford-educated business brain against the mean cunning of a street hustler. Each knew his entire life depended on winning, and each knew that only one of them was going to win.

As we speak, the final hand is being dealt...

The case:

Well, Cohen has dismissed his lawyers and is representing himself pro se. And exactly the same has happened as last time he was representing himself when he was "under house arrest" in Mexico: namely, that he has started sending rambling, ranting, frequently incoherent notes to the court.

Because Cohen abused his phone rights by using it to threaten Kremen and his lawyers, and to organise moving assets around as well as contact his wife to tell her not to sign over property to Gary Kremen, he does not have access to the phone or computer. And so the filings come written in pencil on lined paper. The most recent accused the court clerk of losing vital court documents which he claimed would undermine the entire judgment made by Ware five years ago.

It's hard to understand Cohen. Is he going nuts? Or does he know that by acting bizarrely and eliciting sympathy that he is going to open doors previously closed and eventually get out of jail? I think it's a combination of the two. He is still refusing entirely to co-operate with Kremen, although it seems as though others surrounding him may finally have grown sick of the ten-year fight and want it done with.

But then, you see, $65 million (now $82 million with interest) is a hell of a lot of money, and then Cohen would also have to deal with the fact that Kremen had beaten him. There was yet another hearing last week - 6 June - but I have yet to find out what happened at that one.

Kremen meanwhile is suing ARIN for not handing over the IP addresses Cohen had and which the court ordered handed over way back in 2001. I have yet to read exactly what ARIN's reasoning is, but they have filed an opposition, so they're not backing down.

The website:

This update is the only new thing added to the website recently. I have plenty more material. I may do a full list of all the lawsuits attached to the case. I am also looking to shift hosting over to server than can handle WordPress so I can stick in an RSS feed, plus email updates, a better blog and perhaps a Wiki so people can interact with the site, but all that will come later.