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The Saga of 1246

digitalcaffeine writes "The gist of the story is that Katie Tarbox became a victim of an online sexual predator when she was 13. She wrote a book about it in 2000 and Penguin Putnam made the title of the book 'Katie.Com', which unfortunately was a domain name owned by Katie Jones since 1996. Now Tarbox's lawyer is demanding that Jones turn over the domain name. Penguin refuses to apologize, saying that it would be a violation of their free speech to re-title the book and that Jones never trademarked, so they can do what they want with the words."
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The Saga of

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  • Makes no sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xbrownx ( 459399 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:21AM (#9887900)
    It's not also a violation of the domain owner's free speech rights to have to "re-title" her domain?

    There's something ironic about her lawyers fighting to have the domain so that she can promote her book about Internet predators.
    • by paullush ( 767354 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:47AM (#9888199)
      Cool, time for me to release a hardcore gay movie called I mean, what grounds would they have to object?
    • Re:Makes no sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thenerdgod ( 122843 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:14AM (#9888483) Homepage
      " It's not also a violation of the domain owner's free speech rights to have to "re-title" her domain?"

      Repeat after me: "CONGRESS shall make no law[...]" I can sue you to, as it were, "stfu" any time.

      Come ON people, TORT LAW != CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. I'm really tired of this. "But Teh SCO is taking Lunix's Free Speach Away!!!1" Christ. Get a clue.
  • by klmth ( 451037 ) <> on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:22AM (#9887903) Homepage Journal
    without ever googling for the domain name they used? Unbelievably clueless.
    • by mopslik ( 688435 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:23AM (#9887918)

      without ever googling for the domain name they used?

      Or typing it into the address bar, for that matter. Why the need to invoke Google?

    • by Neophytus ( 642863 ) * on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:26AM (#9887940)
      Oh, but they did. Had you RTFA then you would have realised then the original title for the book was to be, changed because the content of was at the time of the decision pornographic [].
      • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:36AM (#9888065) Journal
        See, what Penguin should have done is buy out Girl Skateboards [], use that against (who, I'm guessing, didn't bother with a trademark either) and then everyone would be a winner! Err, except the porn guys.

        Honestly, this whole thing sounds like this is a story the editors misqueued back in 1998. What does Penguin think -- that they're going to make a fortune off banner ads and the IPO?

    • by stromthurman ( 588355 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:27AM (#9887964)
      Actually, they almost certainly did know the domain was taken. Originally, the book was to be titled "", but according to the Katie Jones' open letter, at the time was a hardcore porn site. Seems to be a search page of some sort now. Anyway, I would not be surprised to find out that this was a deliberate move by the company. They knew was taken by someone else, but it was a private individual who had not registered any trademark on the domain name, and it's apparently a more desireable name than (Katie Tarbox's actual website), so they probably figured they could muscle it out of her.
      • by eltoyoboyo ( 750015 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:42AM (#9888145) Journal
        Right on the money. How stupid are the Penguin sales and marketing folks to release a book with a domain name as the title, when they did not even own it. The one they own should have been the title. It is almost like they had a disconnect between marketing and the art department. (Someone in the art department said "KatieT? It has to be Katie.")

        Even the creators of Friends were smart enough to register [] before it was used as a joke URL in the TV show two seasons ago.

        Penguin is trying to make Katie pay for their stupidity.

    • by tobsucht ( 752647 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:19AM (#9888563)
      The real fun however is right here []: In the beginning, as claimed by The Register, there were two bad reviews. Now take a look again... the book is (the wording ironically fits the context) raped to pieces!
  • by jrockway ( 229604 ) * <> on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:22AM (#9887904) Homepage Journal
    Why doesn't the real (slim?) Katie make a convienient mirror of, say, goatse. Then the people will complain to Penguin and they'll be forced to do something. Like change the title. It's her right to decide the content of her page, right? So I think she'd even be in the clear :-)

    Of course ligit visitors might think Katie is a weirdo, but hey. It's better than having Katie.tv_fm_info_dumbtld :)
    • by Ianoo ( 711633 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:24AM (#9887919) Journal
      Best. Idea. Ever.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:30AM (#9887999)
      goatse? What's that? Anyone have a link?
    • Re:A new shock site? (Score:5, Informative)

      by SpooForBrains ( 771537 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:37AM (#9888091)
      Why doesn't the real (slim?) Katie make a convienient mirror of, say, goatse.

      because her best chance of winning this in court (bearing in mind that there has only been one previous legal precedent and the legality is still a little muddy) is to prove that she is not keeping ownership of the domain to "cash in on" or deliberately adversely affect the book or the publishers' reputation.
    • by mikael ( 484 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:43AM (#9888158)
      As Zahphod Beeblebrox would say:

      "ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking".

      The ISP would probably suspend her Internet account, giving Penquin the opportunity to seize the domain name.

      Of course, she could take an interest in wildlife conservation in the Orkney's [],
      and tell the major book publisher what they can do.
      • Re:A new shock site? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:22AM (#9888604) Homepage Journal
        I'd gladly host her site for free, just for the controversy.

        Because I have no doubt she'll win, and in the mean time you can't buy better ghetto publicity than a publisher of paperbacks trying to strong arm a young mother into giving up her domain name so they can give it to a victim of an online sexual predator. That's like a puppy fighting with a kitten -- two strong appeals to your sense of humanity, duking out over a friggin' email address?

        Anyhow, you really want to cheese off Penguin? Don't Goatse the site, use it to post erudite and insightful critiques of the book, call into question the events inside and the validity of its conclusions. After all, they're marketing the book with YOUR website on it...might as well use your website to convince people not to buy their book. Shit, I'll volunteer for that, to put this rhetoric degree to use for something besides mod 5 posts.

        Incidentally, after a quick USPTO.GOV search, it appears Penguin didn't register, either. Since the owner of has prior art going back to 1996, I think she could still register her trademark...and sue the SHIT out of Penguin for misuse of her domain name. But IANAL...I'm a computer guy with a rhetoric degree and outrage that anybody could be so greedy to cash in on their own tragedy as to threaten a young mother.
  • by 1gor ( 314505 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:23AM (#9887913)
    FSF should sue Penguin and get Tux's name back.
  • by rice_web ( 604109 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:24AM (#9887921)
    I thought trademark was a right guaranteed with or without going through the trademark process. After her first "sale" (visit from an outsider), she would have held a trademark on her site.
  • And then there's... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EFGearman ( 245715 ) <.EFGearman. .at.> on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:24AM (#9887922)
    the fact that the ruling made web names property. I would think that with that precedent, and judges love those, that the owner of the site can not be forced to turn it over. She was there first.
  • by erick99 ( 743982 ) <> on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:24AM (#9887923)
    Why do I feel like something might be missing from this story? We have the makings of a tv movie here. A girl is victimized, horribly, as a result of her online activities. A book is made, a lucrative speaking engagement tour is arranged, and the victim makes a lot of money. That in itself is not necessarily bad (though it can be rather odd). However, with all of this money seemingly floating about, Katie T. and Penguin could have done the most gracious thing and made a generous offer to Katie J. for the domain name Instead, they suggest that the domain name should be given to them as a "donation." I generally donate money to causes that are essentially "poor." I don't see any poor people on Kate T.'s side of the fence. So, this looks really, really greedy on the part of Katie T. and Penguin. As a matter of fact, it looks so overwhelmingly crass and greedy that it seems almost unreal. The Register article seemed informative but can this really be all there is to this? Is Penguin really so dumb as to steamroller over someone's domain name and not offer even a token sum to fix it? I wonder. If Katie T. and Penguin really are this mean-spirited and greedy then I do hope that someone steps forward and helps Katie J. fund a legal challenge.



    • by imadork ( 226897 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:38AM (#9888095) Homepage
      The Register article seemed informative but can this really be all there is to this? Is Penguin really so dumb as to steamroller over someone's domain name and not offer even a token sum to fix it? I wonder. If Katie T. and Penguin really are this mean-spirited and greedy then I do hope that someone steps forward and helps Katie J. fund a legal challenge.

      No, you pretty much have it right. This story has been around for a while and very little has changed. You can google for older stories if you like.

      Katie J. is in a no-win situation. If she offers to sell the domain or sue for damages, she'll be accused of trying to profit off of Penguin's book, and would likely lose the domain in a trademark dispute to WIPO.

      But Penguin's use of is directly causing her harm, because she effectively can't use it for its intended purpose because of all the traffic it is getting. And even if she got Penguin to change future editions, the damage is already done -- is effectively useless for anything that is not associated with the book. The only way to remedy this is to sue for damaged caused by Penguin's behavior -- which, as we already discussed, she can't really do.

      This is why I'm not a lawyer. It seems like they're all schmucks.

    • Sense of Entitlement (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wayward ( 770747 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:30AM (#9888674)
      Instead, they suggest that the domain name should be given to them as a "donation." I generally donate money to causes that are essentially "poor." I don't see any poor people on Kate T.'s side of the fence.

      Did anyone here read the book? One thing that jumped out at me was the way she talked about living in a very wealthy area (New Canaan, CT). For example, her swim team didn't have to do fundraisers because they were just given the money for travel, etc. Now there's a domain name she happens to want, and she seems to expect that it should also just be given to her. It does seem like Katie T. has a strong sense of entitlement.
  • by ericlj ( 81729 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:25AM (#9887926)
    I sent a letter to Penguin yesterday letting them know that I disapprove of their actions in this matter.

    It's conceivable, but unlikely, that if enough people write or call they will change their tactics.

    I assume that dealing with a large publisher is like dealing with government; I expect that they ignore email complaints but are more likely to respond to letters or phone calls.
  • by ergonal ( 609484 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:25AM (#9887936)
    Maybe Penguin should have thought about that before releasing the book? Dumbasses. On the plus side, I've decided to becoming a budding author. My debut book is scheduled to be released on April 1 2005, and its name will be "".
  • Dear OSDN, (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ianoo ( 711633 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:27AM (#9887955) Journal
    I notice that you currently own the name "". Our research shows you never trademarked this name. Last week, I applied for a trademark on the terms "slashdot", "" and "" and these have been granted. Therefore I require you to hand over your domain immediately, or face legal proceedings.

    Yours Sincerely,
    I.P. Freely
  • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:27AM (#9887960)
    I have a brand new buisiness idea:

    1. Write a book called about ancient warrior women that are stalked online.
    2. Take control of said domain name then sell it back.
    3. Profit

    Unlike the plans of the underpants gnomes and SCO, this one may actually be crazy enough to work.

  • by MrKahuna ( 789335 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:27AM (#9887961)
    • by Zak3056 ( 69287 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:53AM (#9888264) Journal
      With appologies to Tommy Tutone:

      Katie, Katie who can I turn to
      We want you to give us something you want to hold on to
      I know you think we're like the others before
      Who saw your info in the WHOIS database

      Kaaatie, I got your domain!
      I'm gonna make it mine!
      Kaatie please change your domain!
      K-A-T-I-E-dot-CO Mioniom

      Katie, Katie it's the site for me
      Donate your domain, it'll make me so happy
      Our lawyers called you before
      Yeah they've got some nerve
      We aren't sorry that
      Your life was disturbed

      Kaaatie, I got your domain!
      I'm gonna make it mine!
      Kaatie please change your domain!
      K-A-T-I-E-dot-CO Mioniom


  • No due diligence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by charnov ( 183495 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:28AM (#9887965) Homepage Journal
    Katie Jones can assert her copyright of the works and the name at any time. Just because someone else doesn't do their due diligence and wraps their business up in a name does not mean the original owner has to cough it up. A little advice for Katie Tarbox's lawyer(s): even IF you get the name awarded, it will be tied up in court for a long time, probably longer than the value you have attached to it will last if not immediately established, and secondly, any decent judge will force you to pay through the nose to compensate the original owner. Good luck. You should make her a seven figure offer if it is so important to your business model.
  • by Alzheimers ( 467217 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:32AM (#9888024)
    1) Name book after existing, small time website
    2) Create small copywrite-related controversy over said site
    3) Get small site url posted on Slashdot.
    4) Reduce small website to smouldering ruin
    5) Offer to accept smouldering ruin as "donation."
  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:33AM (#9888032) Journal
    As a UK citizen, she should just go to the police with the threatening legal letters, and raise a charge of harrassment against Penguin Publishing. Point out that Penguin Publishing published her e-mail address everywhere in order to get a lot of people to harrass her. I'm sure that there is a lot of stuff she can do under UK law to stop this illegal baiting.

    Penguin are clearly in the wrong here. I will just choose to not buy any book published by Penguin, it is the least I can do.

    I hope that a lawyer sees this and decides to help this person out ... it would be nice to see a lawyer with a heart for a start ... I'm not holding my breath though.
  • Usefull contacts (Score:5, Informative)

    by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:42AM (#9888144) Homepage Journal
    if you would like to let penguin know what you think of their strongarm tactics, you might find the following information useful:

    Penguin Books Ltd, Pearson Customer Operations
    Edinburgh Gate, Harlow, Essex, CM20 2JE
    Fax: 0870 850 1115

    Penguin Group (USA)
    375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

    Penguin Group (Australia)
    250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, VIC 3124
    Tel: 61-3-9871-2400
    Fax: 61-3-9870-6086

    Penguin Group (Canada)
    10 Alcorn Ave., Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario, M4V 3B2 Canada
    Tel: (416) 925-2249
    Fax: (416) 925-0068

    Penguin India
    11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi 110 017, India
    Tel: 91-11-2649-4401
    Fax: 91-11-2649-4402

    Penguin Ireland
    25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
    Tel: 00-353-1-661-7695
    Fax: 00-353-1-661-7696

    Penguin Group (New Zealand)
    Private Bag 102-902, North Shore Mail Centre, Auckland 1310
    Albany, Auckland, New Zealand
    Tel: 64-9-415-4700
    Fax: 64-9-415-4703

    Penguin South Africa
    24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, 2169, South Africa
    Tel: 27-11-327-3550
    Fax: 27-11-327-6574
  • Libel? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:44AM (#9888175) Homepage
    Couldn't Katie Jones sue Katie Tarbox for libeling her as a sexual assault victim?
  • Tough Noogies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Esion Modnar ( 632431 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:45AM (#9888179)
    I didn't RTFA, but it seems the publisher is making 2 claims: 1) They can use as a book title since it's not trademarked, and it's their 1st amendment right, and 2) For some vague "think of the children" reason, the current owner of should give it up.

    1) OK, then... phone numbers are not trademarked. If I use my next door neighbor's phone number as the title of a book I should be OK, right? Probably up until I get sued for the cost of him changing his phone number and all associated costs. Imagine all the crank calls he'd receive at 3 am. This is why books and media started using 555 numbers.

    2) I hate victim mentality that equates their suffering with entitlement. If you were a victim of something (esp. as a child), suddenly people are supposed to donate stuff to you, like domain names?!? ("Think of the Children!" the cynical demand heard everywhere...) Sure, it's a stretch to attribute the publishers' and lawyer's desires and expectations to their client, but she has the power to tell them "No! Not in my name, Asshole!" was there long before the book was even a gleam in a publisher's eye, so Penguin Putnam can go suck it. I hope they get their ass sued off.

  • Full history (Score:5, Informative)

    by potcrackpot ( 245556 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:03AM (#9888353) Homepage
    OK, everyone seems a little confused about this - like, why now when the book was published in 2000?

    For those that don't RTFA:

    - In 2000, this book came out, and Katie Jones asked Dutton (subsidiary of Penguin) to change the title, as she had the domain name and they were hijacking it; as a result of the book title, KJ was receiving emails both detailing peoples abuse at the hands of paedophiles, as well as abusive emails from paedophiles themselves. See here [] and here []. KJ took loads of stuff (including pictures of herself and family) off the site as a result - and Penguin ignored the request. I can't find the original slashdot article, although I'm sure there must have been one.
    - Now, four years later, Jones gets a nasty letter, and this slashdot story is posted. This is caused by KT doing some thing about teaching kids about online safety (whether for money or altruism I don't know) - and them calling it Source [].
    - It seems the lawyer, one Parry Aftab, has a website [].

    There's a good summary (almost as good as this one) here [], and suprisingly, on CNN [].

  • by Digital_Quartz ( 75366 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:11AM (#9888444) Homepage
    If I were Katie Jones, I'd setup Google AdWords on my front page, and perhaps a sponsored link to the book on Amazon, and use the proceeds to power a legal fund.
  • by frostman ( 302143 ) * on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:16AM (#9888519) Homepage Journal
    At this point the best hope for justice is a publicity backlash. Penguin is already well on their way to getting more negative publicity than they can stomach over this screw-up.

    We should all write (preferably in dead-tree form) to Penguin, and to their corporate masters, Pearson.

    Be polite but be firm. Ask specific questions and ask specifically for a reply (this will keep the letter alive and consuming resources in the bureaucracy much longer). Make it clear that this arrogant action, if uncorrected, will negatively affect your purchases and recommendations in the future.


    Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
    375 Hudson Street
    New York, NY 10014


    Pearson Headquarters
    3 Burlington Gardens
    London W1X 1LE, United Kingdom
    Phone: +44-20-7411-2000
    Fax: +44-20-7411-2390

    Or, if you're in the US and just feel like ranting, try Penguin Customer Service: (800) 631-8571
  • KatieT reply (Score:5, Informative)

    by illumnat ( 754343 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:21AM (#9888588) Homepage
    I sent of the following email to KatieT

    I am sorry to hear about your situation and what happened to you, however, I am also very sorry to hear about the unfortunate situation with your lawyer attempting to hijack the website of Katie Jones.

    You and your publisher have no right too simply appropriate a domain name that has been in use since 1996. Using the deep pockets of a publishing company to abuse the rights of an individual who lacks the wealth to fight off the corporate lawyers is nearly as bad as sexual abuse... Both situations are about taking something away from someone who is powerless to fight back.

    Please do the right thing and call off your lawyers' strong arm tactics and let Katie Jones have her life and website back.
    and got the following response:
    I appreciate your thoughts and understand them completley. It is not posted on my web site, but this issue is between Katie Jones and Penguin Putnam. They own the name as a published book and decided to call it that. I can do nothing in my power to change it. I would suggest if you would like your voice to be heard and a chance that something is done about it, direct your sympathy to Penguin Putnam. Best, Katie Tarbox
    Here's the customer service number for Putnam USA: (800) 631-8571

  • by double_h ( 21284 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:56AM (#9888957) Homepage
    This is a perfect example of the dangers resulting from corporations now being treated as entities which enjoy first amendment protections (I believe it was during Reagan's presidency that this change happened).

    Think about this for a second - a huge media corporation with publishing facilities in cities all around the world and teams of lawyers - arguing that their free speech is being violated by one person's individual website. Do you really think it's in the spirit of the first amendment that these two entities should be perfectly equal in the eyes of the law?
  • Thank You (Score:5, Informative)

    by nsedley ( 802989 ) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @11:52AM (#9889616)
    As a friend of Katie Jones and the guy who hosts the domain...... Wow, you Slashdotters are an amazing bunch. No other site that has carried the story has generated a response as big the one from Slashdot. I thought my server had died earlier today, the amount of traffic it recieved was so large, and all from Slashdot. Thank you for taking an interest in this issue.
  • Has anyone else written an email to the supposed lawyer? I did, and this is the answer I received (including the text of my message below it):


    Rob, we never tried to take, Katie Jones is doing all of this for publicity. We were always using I am also not Katie's lawyer or anyone's lawyer and Jone's knows that.

    I donate 90% of my time to running a charity that protects people online. But replying only feeds Jone's hidden agenda here.

    For that reason, I request that you not share this without my advance permission.

    .and if you look at you'll see the whole post about our intentions on this all-volunteer organization website, I have always taught children not to believe whatever they read online, too bad adults don't follow that rule. :-(

    -----Original Message----- From: Rob Miles [] Sent: Thursday, August 05, 2004 2:42 PM To: Subject: Katie Jones and

    Please stop your campaign to force Katie Jones to give up HER domain, Even since the book by the came out, she has dealt with unwanted and unwarranted attention. Maybe this all started as a mistake or an oversight, but to plan to release additional material under that same name (as reported by Ms. Jones on 7/30/04) is certainly mean-spirited at this point.

    As of 7/27/04 your site lists a new venture with Katie Tarbox named If this means that you have in fact given up on trying to force Ms. Jones to give up her rightful domain, then I apologize for the above and offer you my deepest appreciation.


    For the record, I consider any email sent to me to be my own property, regardless of any request or disclaimer saying otherwise.

  • by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <`ten.pbp' `ta' `maps'> on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:15PM (#9896012)

    In alt.activism.children the only person whose taste buds are dead enough
    to permit him to perform oral sex on Mike Echols, alexplore, writes:

    > When the conversation was with 13-year-old Katherine Tarbox of
    > New Canaan, Conn., the subject was piano playing, one of young
    > Katie's passions.

    You know, we all heard this touching tale when Parry Aftab was flogging
    the book to death. It's 100% Sex Abuse Agenda embellished tripe.

    > Katie, who was staying with her mother, Andrea, and her teammates
    > in the same hotel as Kufrovich, went to his room at about 9:30
    > p.m. Her worried mother squeezed the details from one of Katie's
    > friend, and rushed to Kufrovich's room with police - but not
    > before the pedophile had a chance to kiss and fondle her.

    In reality, when the police entered the room, both Katie and her network
    acquaintance said "nothing had happened." The guy was allowed to leave
    with no charges being filed.

    Later, after being programmed to think of herself as a victim, she filed a
    complaint, and decided to become a media darling, write a book, meet Parry
    Aftab, and function as the poster child for Internet luring.

    Hey, why turn down a lucrative career opportunity, right?

    They also managed to get the FBI involved, and charge her "predator" with
    a couple of those vague new "intending to" and "traveling for the purpose
    of" laws. He got 18 months.

    To make matters worse, Katie titled her sob story "" Well, the
    20 year old owner of, who lives in London, was less than
    amused when she started getting millions of hits from the Child Sex

    And so it goes.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel