August 4, 2009, - 2:10 pm
If you own domain names and they are illegally taken from you–stolen–don’t expect to get them back . . .if the new owner is NBA bench-warmer (and internet domain name speculator) Mark Madsen.
Madsen bought the website address P2P.com from Daniel Goncalves, a hacker who illegally shifted ownership of the site to himself and stole it to Madsen for $111,000. Goncalves is the first ever target of a criminal prosecution for domain name theft. And that should be cause for applause. But there’s also cause for jeering: Madsen.
While it’s true that Madsen did not know the web address was stolen, he does now and refuses to give it back to its rightful owners, investors Marc Ostrofsky and Albert and Lesli Angel.
Madsen is a defendant in a civil lawsuit regarding the name, but the original legitimate owners of the site say they’ve already spent $500,000 trying to get it back, to no avail, thus far. They also spent $160,000 to buy the site in the first place.
It reminds me of Elizabeth Taylor’s long refusal to return stolen art–a Van Gogh, which the Nazis took from a Jewish family during the Holocaust and which Taylor later bought and refused to return when she learned it was stolen.
This isn’t like finding a random quarter on the sidewalk. Madsen knows it’s not his and he won’t return it, despite the fact that he got it through theft. He should have known the Latin phrase, caveat emptor–buyer beware. It should have been his responsibility to determine if the seller was legit.
Read a lot more at Domain Name News. According to that site, two previous cases favor the “good faith” purchaser of the stolen site, just like Elizabeth Taylor was allowed to keep her Nazi-stolen painting.
To me, that doesn’t seem right. It rewards buyers for being naive and not researching what they buy (and encourages them to lie and claim they didn’t know, enabling them to get away with it if they did). And it provides zero redress for victims of theft.
What do you think? Shouldn’t Mark Madsen do the right thing and give back his stolen website or at least sell it back for a lesser price?
The law may say one thing, but in this case, doing the right thing is entirely another.
Tags: Albert Angel, bench-warmers, caveat emptor, Daniel Goncalves, Domain Name News, Domain Names, Elizabeth Taylor, Holocaust, Internet Addresses, internet theft, jerks, L.A. Clippers, LA Clippers, Lakers, Lesli Angel, Liz Taylor, Los Angeles Clippers, Marc Ostrofsky, Mark Madsen, Nazis, NBA, P2P.com, Stolen Art, Stolen domain names, URLs, Van Gogh