At the beginning of this month, news broke that a New Jersey man was arrested for stealing the domain name p2p.com and reselling it for over $100,000. This marked the first time an arrest has ever been made for the theft of a domain name.
Daniel Gonclave hacked into the account of the previous owner of p2p.com and transferred the ownership of the domain to himself. He then put the domain name up for sale on eBay, where Los Angeles Clippers forward Mark Madsen purchased it for $111,000. Madsen, apparently, moonlights as a domain name speculator, routinely buying and selling domain names of different values. Tom Ziller at NBA FanHouse documents Madsen’s domainer activities in a recent blog entry.
The arrest could be significant for the domain name industry as a whole. Victor Epstein of the Associated Press interviewed various authorities who affirmed that this is not the first time a domain name has been stolen, but it is the first time police have taken action against the crime. In past cases, attorneys representing the victims of domain name theft have pushed for criminal prosecution but have been unsuccessful in their attempts. The high resale price of the domain along with the involvement of a famous athlete could give the arrest of Mr. Gonclave a high enough profile that it will spur action on the part of policymakers to define other domain name frauds as criminal activities. In any case, it will be interesting to see how this arrest affects the domain name space on the whole.
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