The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal has spoken again in the Saga of Cohen, Kremen and the sex.com domain name. In this new opinion, the Ninth Circuit socks it to NSI, stating that they are amenable to suit for conversion of the domain name "sex.com" as a result of their acceptance of an on-its-face incredible forged letter transferring the domain name to now-fugitive Cohen. This one may make a big difference, and lead to fundamental change in NSI's seemingly aloof atitude toward domain name transfers.
Those of you who usually ignore judicial opinions should read this one. After all, how can any document that begins, "'Sex on the Internet," they all said, 'how can that make any money?'" not be worth a skim? Written by Judge Alex Kozinski, it is amusing, intelligent, at times galling but always great reading.
Judge Kozinski is one of our national treasures, writing "cut-to-the-chase" opinions that are at once insightful, humerous and yet dead-nuts serious. Examples of his fun stuff include this infamous party-game opinion in U.S. v. Syufy. In Syufy, Judge Kozinski ruled on an otherwise dull antitrust issue involving a chain of movie theatres, while burying hundreds of film titles in the text proper. An answer key is available on line.
He also wrote the opinion in the Dreamwerks trademark case, in which he dealt with a lawsuit by an oufit that ran Star Trek conventions against the film studio. In an amusing opinion, in which he expressly "perform[ed] a Vulcan mind meld on the 'reasonably prudent consumer,'" Judge K wrote a clear, comprehensible opinion as to fundamental aspects of trademark infringement.
Slashdotters interested in the philosophy of intellectual property issues will have their minds tweaked by the insightful dissent in the Vanna White case, finding that Vanna could sue Samsung for running a commercial in which a robot wearing a gown turned letters. Again, Kozinski disarms you with his first sentence, "Robots again."
Judge K's sex.com opinion is no different. In this case, he takes on subtle questions such as "what is the legal relationship between NSI and registrants," "whether a domain name is property," and whether the distributed DNS database is a document that tangibly represents the interest that is the domain name." Amusingly, in the last Sex.com opinion, Judge Kozinski wrote both the majority opinion and a dissent.
The humor in his opinions reflect his loving craftsmanship, and not a lack of seriousness. Judge K's politics are a mile away from mine, yet I have always felt comfortable when he adjudicates hard issues: he is a true jurist. He learns about his subject, writes well about it and comes up with results that, right or wrong, left you feeling he genuinely ached in his efforts to get it right.
Why can't someone appoint this guy to the Supreme Court?