Book Review: The Sex.com Chronicles
Lawyer’s inside look at Sex.com legal battle gets off to slow start, but redeems itself in the end.
It’s a shame for Charles Carreon that his book about the Sex.com legal battle came out after Kieren McCarthy’s book Sex.com (review). As much as I tried to disassociate the two books, they require comparison. And while Kieren’s book was a riveting, objective tale by a professional author, Carreon’s book is a poorly written, subjective book written by a lawyer. But by the end of the book Carreon picks up the pace and the book has some redeeming qualities.
Carreon was one of many lawyers to help Gary Kremen win the Sex.com domain name, which was stolen by lifetime conman Stephen Cohen. Carreon saved the case from certain death, but ultimately required another legal team to make up for his deficiencies. With outside help, he and Kremen won the case and the return of the internet’s most valuable domain name.
Reading the book is painful at first, as Carreon tries to force lengthy metaphors and analogies, such as this one about taking legal cases:
I enjoy it so much I’ll practically do it for free. I’ve spent too much time treating cases like motorcycles that you can kick-start and tear ass all over the dirt in. I’ve come to see clients and witnesses as fuel to burn, weapons to deploy, and obstacles to be destroyed. Sex.com was like a big, fire-breathing road rocket with 100,000 cc’s ready to blast off like a George Lucas creation hitting hyper-drive with the Empire in hot pursuit. God, I wanted to ride that thing, but it was dead stock still. In October 1999, Gary had no gas money.
Elsewhere in the book Carreon spends better than a page at a time talking about previous experiences in various cities that seem to add nothing to the story but rather fulfill his need to feel well traveled. He also has a bad habit of writing about people sometimes by first name and other times by last name. With no index, it’s hard to recall which character he’s writing about.
Kieren’s book shows some of the bias in Carreon’s writing. For example, in his book Carreon writes with disdain about the performance of other attorneys on the case, but glosses over his own shortcomings such as poor oratory skills. Ultimately, as explained in Kieren’s book, that’s why Kremen brought in an additional legal team at a cost of over $1M. The lawyer also doesn’t mention his drug use during the case. I also couldn’t help but take away hints of sexism. Perhaps his stint in the adult entertainment world rubbed off on him.
But Carreon’s book provides much more than Kieren’s in terms of legal discussion and philosophy, which should appeal to lawyers. He also takes a deeper dive into the online adult entertainment industry.
Toward the end, Carreon’s writing seems to get crisper and draws you in. You start to feel sorry for him as he recounts losing his 15% stake in Sex.com and as he takes a relatively low paying job at a smut factory in Canada to pay the bills.
For all its shortcomings, The Sex.com Chronicles should be on your reading list if you are in the domain industry. Try to get your hands on Kieren’s hard-to-find book first, but then set aside a weekend for Charles Carreon’s take, too.