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Book Review: Sex.com by Kieren McCarthy


Along with a number of new features I'm adding to the site redesign I'm working on for UtterDomain, I'm trying to fill some niches for the articles here. You may have caught my first "Domainer of the Week Awards" post on Friday, for example, which will hopefully become a staple of the site every Friday. One of the other new things I'm looking to cover is Book Reviews related to Domaining, Internet Marketing, Website Development, etc. What better book to start this review series on than one devoted to the most public domain dispute in the young history of the internet - the battle for Sex.com

While I may be fairly new to domain investing, I've been a hard-core Web addict since 1994 and have made my living doing web development since before the dotcom bubble even started. That means that I watched the fight over Sex.com unfold in bits and pieces as the lawsuits and the wild stories circulated the internets over the course of nearly a decade, but the story presented by Kieren McCarthy provides a whole new insight (for me anyway) into the characters, the plot twists, the stonewalling and the utter mischief that took place surrounding what is arguably the most desired domain name that will ever exist.

What may have come across as very dry non-fiction about trademarks, lawsuits, accounting tricks and let's face it, domain names (which are, after all, just words, right?) was incredibly entertaining for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that we are talking about Sex.com here. But really, the thing that really gripped me about the story was the battle between the two main characters. Gary Kremen - the original owner of Sex.com (and original man behind Match.com, etc.) and the thief who stole it, perpetual conman Stephen Cohen. Neither character escapes unscathed in this tell all book, and many of the actual events couldn't have been scripted any better if you tried.

For those who are unfamiliar with the details of the case, there is also a significant amount of time discussing the battle between Gary Kremen and Network Solutions (NSI), who maintained that they had no responsibility whatsoever right up to the point when the courts found that domain names are property and not just "like phone numbers" and NSI subsequently settled with Kremen. This is historic and historical stuff that, while not directly related to the ICANN dominated world we live in today, shows the roots of where those organizations and companies came from and how they do business. It's really eye an opening experience, even for someone like me who really thought they had some sort of clue beforehand :)

I can highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with the domain industry (and really, who doesn't deal with it?), as I couldn't put it down and I learned a lot about the industry I'm invested in. I also want to give a shout out to Adam Strong who sent me this signed copy as a prize giveaway during the Moniker auction chat last month at TRAFFIC New York. I enjoyed the book so much I didn't even mind that it was covered in Domain Name News stickers :)

I hope you enjoyed this review. I'm looking to do plenty more, so if you want to see me cover a specific book or if you have any suggestions or recommendations, please hit me up at http://Twitter.com/UtterDomain

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