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Domain enemies battle out of court

Network Solutions cancels a hearing for a permanent restraining order against the AlterNIC because the two are negotiating an out-of-court settlement.

Network Solutions today canceled a hearing for a permanent restraining order against the AlterNIC because the two are negotiating an out-of-court settlement, according to a Network Solutions spokesman.

Network Solution on July 23 won a temporary restraining order against AlterNIC founder Eugene Kashpureff preventing him from redirecting surfers from their sites at "www.netsol.com" or "www.internic.net."

Kashpureff had redirected surfers from the InterNIC on at least two occasions as a political protest.

But Network Solutions, which had said it did not plan on pursuing legal action after the first round of redirections, changed its mind and took Kashpureff to court.

Today, however, Network Solutions decided to cancel the hearing because officials from the powerful company were negotiating with Kashpureff and his attorney, said David Graves, Internet business manager for Network Solutions.

"We really got actively involved in working toward a settlement yesterday," he said. Graves did not have a timetable, but he said he expected the two sides to reach agreement.

"We're moving along in reaching a settlement with Mr. Kashpureff," he said. "We certainly would like to conclude this as quickly as possible."

Earlier this month Kashpureff hijacked the InterNIC's URL to make a statement. Kashpureff--along with several other critics--has maintained that Network Solutions wields too much power on the Internet.

His predicament started July 11. For months, he had been desperately trying to get his message--that the domains ".com," ".net," and ".org" belong to the public--out to Netizens. But Network Solutions, which has a government contract to dole out those popular names, claims it owns the domains database.

Kashpureff has been trying to set up an alternate registry but so far hasn't had much luck. For the registry to work, he would need widespread Internet cooperation.

So to bring attention to his plight, Kashpureff decided to reroute the Internet pointers so that anyone who typed in "www.internic.net" would instead be directed to "www.alternic.net." His plan worked: The redirect put him in the limelight. But not everyone, even those who agreed with his arguments, supported his actions.

For a few days, Kashpureff was widely quoted in the press and was able to talk about his favorite issues. He stopped rerouting information on July 14. That might have been the end of it, except Kashpureff lost his temper.

On Friday night, July 18, he went back to Network Solutions site and saw a rotating graphic advertising the .com, .net and .org domain names. He said he got angry and turned back on the program to redirect the pages.

On Monday, Network Solutions' attorneys called him. On Tuesday, they took him to court.

Meanwhile, the security community is concerned about the possibility that the same methods Kashpureff used to reroute domain names could be used on a more widespread basis to create an Internet disaster. They have issued widespread advisories to update a program that would prevent the same kind of program from working elsewhere.

Kashpureff said both that he was proud of standing up for his ideals, but admitted that he got carried away with the protest.

He had been in hiding but apparently has resurfaced--at least to Network Solutions' attorneys.