Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Illegal Lottery Enterprise Relating to New Dot Biz Top-Level Domain Served on ICANN

Monday August 06 by Press Release Submission
Los Angeles - (August 6, 2001) - The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the controversial non-profit California corporation which oversees the Internet domain name system, was served today with a class action lawsuit alleging that the current administration of the new ".biz" top-level domain constitutes an illegal lottery in every jurisdiction of the United States.

The lawsuit also names Neulevel, Verisign, Register.com, Yahoo!, and most ICANN accredited registrars as defendants. Internet lawyer, Derek A. Newman, who recently sued the United States Government for the right to broadcast the execution of Timothy McVeigh over the Internet, and Ed Masry, who was portrayed in the movie Erin Brockovich, are among the attorneys who have teamed up to represent the plaintiffs in this suit.

Under the system now operating to distribute the domain names, consumers are required to pay between $4 and $15 in order to "apply" for the chance to register a domain. Sometime after September 17, Defendant Neulevel plans to randomly select each party actually allowed to register each domain name. Under the "lottery" type process, a party can increase its chances of being selected to register a domain name by paying for a greater number of "applications". None of the defendants, however, have revealed to consumers what the chances are that they will actually be selected as a domain registrant. Defendant Neulevel's web site touts that it has already received millions of requests for these new domain names, which plaintiffs believe translates into several million dollars billed to consumers.

The plaintiffs in the action include David Scott Smiley, his business Smiley Productions of Phoenix, and Skyscraper Productions, LLC of Los Angeles, California.

"Three elements make up an illegal lottery: (1) prize, (2) consideration, and (3) chance," said Derek Newman, attorney for plaintiffs. "In this case, Neulevel and the registrar defendants are (1) awarding a prize, namely, right to register a choice domain name, (2) accepting consideration, in the form of a fee; and (3) deciding who wins the prize based on chance, which is the random selection. In the end, we believe, many consumers will have paid substantial sums for nothing in return."

Plaintiff Dave Smiley, who is the popular morning personality on KZON "The Zone" radio station in Phoenix, requested the domain names RADIO.BIZ and DJ.BIZ. "In order to apply for the domain names I want before registration actually begins, the defendants require me to pay for each request," Smiley said, "But, the defendants do not disclose what are my chances to actually register. That is simply unfair."

The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring ICANN, Neulevel, and the other defendants to cease the alleged lottery, and to refund monies obtained from consumers in connection therewith.

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