By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Around the same time, according to an article in the Montreal Gazette, Black was sued by American landscape architects Cummin & Associates Inc., which claimed in court documents in 1993 that Black had failed to pay $151,516 for work on his homes, including his country estate at Lac Brule, north of Montreal. That matter was reportedly settled out of court.
Black modestly describes his financial position as “comfortable.” Not that the accomplished Rich needs help, the spirit muses willing. But it’s always nice to have someone in your corner when the feds come knocking. Preferably a multimillionaire. —Christine Pelisek
Born to Squat?
If an irresistible celebrity meets an immovable cyber-squatter, who gives? In the case of Bruce Springsteen vs. Jeff Burgar and the Bruce Springsteen Club, decided on February 7, the alleged cyber-squatter prevailed against pop icon Springsteen. The dispute involved the rights to the Internet domain brucespringsteen.com. Burgar registered it way back in ’96; Springsteen, or perhaps more accurately, Sony Music decided they wanted it in November of 2000 — the date a complaint was filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
WIPO is the Geneva-based branch of the United Nations that finds itself at the center of hundreds of disputes involving cyber-squatting — the dubious practice of registering a Web domain bearing similarity to an existing trademark or personality in order to profit off misdirected Web traffic or a resale. Many thought it was unfair to call Burgar a squatter. In the years since registering the address brucespringsteen.com, the Canadian Web developer hadn’t tried to profit from the name or traffic, choosing instead to post a simple fan site. Two of the three WIPO panelists agreed, finding against Springsteen. The third panelist dissented on all points.
The Boss must have fans in Geneva, as it is rare that a WIPO panel consists of more than one arbiter. It’s also rare for any complainant — typically a corporation or celebrity — to lose a domain dispute. Recent celebrity victories include madonna.com and juliaroberts.com. It didn’t help that Sony Music already holds at least two Springsteen-related domains, brucespringsteen.net and brucespringsteen.org. The former is a hastily produced press release leading to an equally spare page hawking DVDs. The latter address remains undeveloped, without even a splash page. Burgar is now the center of a heated bulletin-board debate, with some calling him a modern-day David and other Bruce fans condemning him as a poor sport or even a Travis Bickel.
Other WIPO cases pending include aol-girls.com, genesimmonsco.com, gayebay.com and josieandthepussycats.net. Four guesses who the plaintiffs are. Given the rising number of domain disputes, OffBeat wonders how long before porn site whitehouse.com comes before a WIPO panel. If it does, who will win? —Bill Smith