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  • Book Review: The Sex.com Chronicles

    1. BY - Apr 06, 2009
    2. Uncategorized
    3. 12 Comments

    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.

    The Sex.com Chronicles by Charles Carreon, $18.99.

12 Comments
  • Andrew:
    Thanks for reading and recommending my book! Just a few corrections for the record. I’m sorry to hear you repeating Kieren’s misstatement that I lacked oratorical skills, which is simply false. With sixty jury trials and hundreds of arguments behind me in a 22-year career, I have never been called a poor orator by anyone except Kieren. Jim Wagstaffe is of course a brilliant lawyer next to whom any lawyer would be happy to take a second chair, as I did. However, when I stepped into court for the first time with Judge Ware, the case was upside down, ready for dismissal, as Cohen’s lawyer Bob Dorband testified later under oath, and somehow I turned that around. When NSI moved for summary judgment, I alone articulated the argument on the record that established domains to be property under California law on appeal. Nor is it fair to say that I see other lawyers’ faults and fail to identify my own. The lawyers I criticized in the book were those who nearly sunk the case, and while I never claimed to like Idell, I concede his remarkable abilities. With regard to other matters I did not discuss, sometimes the reason two accounts of the same events differ is because one is wrong. I was there. Kieren was not. I protected my client’s reputation and made him a millionaire. Kieren wrote a book that he never fact-checked with me, and for that omission, I have frankly given him a pass. The remedy for speech you don’t like is, after all, more speech.
    :) Chas

  • Patrick McDermott says:

    April 6, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    “But by the end of the book Carreon picks up the pace and the book has some redeeming qualities.”

    So at exactly what page should we start reading the book? :-)

    Too bad “lifetime conman Stephen Cohen” didn’t “invest” his ill gotten gains with lifetime Ponzi Schemer Bernie Madoff.

    Now that would have been Poetic Justice!

  • Pat:

    Since you can read chapters free online at http://sex.comchronicles.com/excerpts/, you can make up your own mind. I venture that if you plunge in anywhere, you’ll end up reading the whole thing.

    :) Chas

  • Oh and there’s a typo in the quote: “… Gary had not gas money.” What it says on page 36 is “… Gary had no gas money.”

  • Thanks Charles. I fixed the typo.

  • This reminds me.. I need to read this book. Never got to it :)

    Nice to see you around C.

  • Patrick McDermott says:

    April 6, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    “I venture that if you plunge in anywhere, you’ll end up reading the whole thing.”

    Charles,

    I didn’t mean any offense to you.

    I was just kidding around which is why I put a smiley face.

    Sometimes my sense of humor gets the best of me, I suppose.

    Thanks for the link…and of course I will read the WHOLE book when I do.

    As an insider on the Sex.com case, thanks for writing the book.

  • No offense taken! I just always remember that story from Mark Twain, about the young man who asked him to read his book. Twain replied, “Do I have to?” What’s clear from Andrew’s comments is that he did read the book, and it’s not surprising that he likes some part better than others. That’s the fun part of writing a long book. Like Andrew thought the travel writing was dull. On the other side, there was a guy who said he wished I’d skipped the legal stuff and stuck to the travel writing! And my literary agent also thought the thing about motorcycles was a little much — but then he thought that the stuff about the “industry” was weird, and lots of people really like that. But if you read all of it, then well, you’ll find out what parts you like.
    :) Chas

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