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31 July 2000
More on Gary, sex and ownership

After reading Gary, and the Rude Facts of Life by Philip Van Munching, I am compelled to respond to inaccurate and misleading statements about Network Solutions, Inc.

NSI is committed to customer service and to the rights of domain name holders:

* Customers have ownership rights. Customers own their domain name and they can renew it for as long as they honor their registration agreement.

* NSI takes great care to balance the rights of domain name holders. In fact, the dispute police we developed in 1995 is the model for ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy which all accredited registrars now use.

* NSI has no interest in arbitrary termination of domain names.A domain name will only be terminated if the customer does not honor his or her contract or if NSI receives a dispute resolution or court order to do so.

Further, the article states, "You really aren't free to buy an already-registered domain name unless the good folks at NSI decide to let you." In fact NSI is happy to facilitate the transfer of an already-registered domain name. The NSI service agreement outlines that NSI will make the transfer and treat the new registrant of the domain name as every customer is treated. You own it, you renew it, you honor your contract, and the domain name is yours.

Finally, the article questions NSI's entry into the secondary market for domain names. By enabling people to register domain names they want to sell, NSI is facilitating a legitimate marketplace that is in great demand. The intention is to bring buyers and sellers together. NSI is in the business of Web identity building and our new auction service is another avenue to help customers find a desired domain name.

We're focused on providing a valuable service of building Web identity for our customers. We know our customers have a choice, and we work hard to earn and keep their business.

Chris Clough
Vice president-corporate communications
Network Solutions Inc.
Herndon, Va.

Philip Van Munching responds:

Gary Kremen, Umbro International and everyone else involved in legal disputes with NSI will be thrilled by your letter and its assertion that "customers own their domain name," Mr. Clough. Heck, I wouldn't be shocked if they brought it to court with them, considering it refutes what your own attorneys have been telling those courts, as well as the press. To wit: Phil Sbarbaro, NSI's legal counsel, is on record with the following: "You don't own a domain name any more than you own your phone number" and "A domain name is not property, it's a service."

As to your assertion that you bring "buyers and sellers together," Mr. Sbarbaro recently told Wired that "(saying) people buy and sell domain names is the vernacular but it's not accurate."

Secondly Mr. Clough, you mention your service agreement four times in your letter, calling it a "contract," but never pointing out that it's actually a contract of adhesion, which means that:

1) NSI didn't negotiate its terms with the customer, and

2) NSI has the unilateral right to determine if the customer is in breach, and to take the domain away

Makes me wonder what, exactly those "ownership rights" that you reference in your letter actually are.



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