Brian R. Cartmell

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Brian R. Cartmell is an internet entrepreneur.

Career profile

Internet Entertainment Group

According to the Seattle Weekly, in 1995 Cartmell worked for a large online adult entertainment corporation, Internet Entertainment Group (IEG), headquartered in Seattle. [1] While the Seattle Weekly reported Cartmell was president of IEG, in fact Seth Warshavsky was the president and Cartmell was the CTO of IEG.[2]. The WA State Secretary of State records also lists Seth Warshavsky as President.

Cartmell and his employer were named as defendants in an early cybersquatting case [3]. They were sued by the toy manufacturer Hasbro for using 'Candy Land', one of Hasbro's trademarks, in a domain name for a porn site. [4]

IEG was a known spammer, and a number of .net-abuse postings in the Usenet archive mention Brian Cartmell in connection with this [5]. .net-abuse newsgroups are forums where concerned individuals monitor spam and try to identify the perpetrators. At least some of IEG's sexually explicit spam postings were made to non-adult-orientated newsgroups [6] [7].

Brian Cartmell now runs a company called SpamArrest, which offers a service to block email spam.

Cartmell is also mentioned in a 1995 Usenet posting as having allegedly been the person who applied for some '500' prefix premium telephone numbers on behalf of WKP (another trading name for IEG). The numbers were allegedly subsequently used to run adult telephone services, despite the fact that they were not supposed to be used for this purpose [8] [9].

eNIC (Cocos Keeling Islands domain registry)

After working as CTO for IEG, Cartmell saw an opening when he realized that the top-level domain ".cc", which represents the Cocos Keeling Islands, had not been claimed. Cartmell approached Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), the Internet body in charge of allocating top level domains, and secured the rights to administer the .cc domain. He set up a new company called eNIC to sell .cc domain names.

Despite the .cc domain ostensibly representing the Cocos Keeling Islands, the islands do not receive any cut from sales of .cc domain names [10]. However, Cartmell and eNIC have donated money and telecommunications equipment and infrastructure to the islands [11]. These included a satellite earth station, a GSM phone network, and yearly community grants.

Brian Cartmell stated the total size of the donations in his Feb 2001 testimony on the Governance of the Domain Name System by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications of the United States Senate Commerce Committee: "We have spent nearly $2 million on projects that benefit the people of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, something that we have voluntarily undertaken to fulfill our charge to act for the "benefit" of the local Internet community on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands under RFC 1591."

It is not known what percentage of eNIC's revenues this represented. Nor do we know how the total value of eNIC's charity towards the islanders compares to the revenues the islands could have got if they had secured their top level domain for themselves, and negotiated a deal on their own terms under which they would not be dependent on the charity of a foreign administrator of their TLD. However, by looking at case studies of other third-world top level domains, we can make some educated guesses. As is discussed later in this article, during a period of just 15 months from April 2000 to July 2001, by signing a commercial deal to market its TLD, the Pacific island group of Tuvalu received ten times as much money as the above sum received by the Cocos Islands, from less than half as many registrations.

SpamArrest

After selling eNIC to VeriSign for what he describes as an "undisclosed amount", Brian Cartmell founded a new start-up called SpamArrest. It offers a 'challenge-response' spam-blocking solution. Emails sent to a subscriber are routed via SpamArrest's servers. The first time someone emails that subscriber, they are asked by SpamArrest to click a verification link in order that the email be delivered.

Unfortunately on Feb 13th 2003, SpamArrest used the database of email addresses it built up through this system to send out emails advertising its service. People who emailed a SpamArrest customer were sent emails inviting them to subscribe to SpamArrest [12]. The tactic caused outrage among many Internet users who accused SpamArrest of - ironically - resorting to spamming [13]. It also led to SpamArrest being added to the block list of the respected anti-spam organisation SpamHaus [14].

SpamArrest initially defended their action as a legitimate marketing tactic, but quickly backed down and promised not to do it again [15].

SpamArrest has not repeated this action again since Feb 13th 2003.

On May 3, 2005, the Brian Mcwilliams Weblog "S*Pam_kings" reported and presented archives of recent attempts by Brian Cartmell and other SpamArrest Employees to convince various web masters and archives to remove some of the companies recorded incidents of spamming from the internet. [16]

One archive in particular contains the record of an email conversation between Cartmell himself and Declan McCullagh of www.politechbot.com. [17] The links in question contain archives of the previous spamming activities of SpammArrest, conversations about them and preventative measures to guard against receiving spam from spammArrest in the future. [18][19] Cartmell is not denying that the company never spammed but he is asking to remove all record of it.

Though several archives and sources have kept these logs, the online archive resource http://web.archive.org/ has removed all archives referring to spammarrest and any previous content on www.cartmell.com Brian Cartmell previous blog site.

The company provides no telephone or street address contact details on its consumer site.[1]

Views

Cartmell has expressed some extreme right-wing opinions in his blog. Here are a few.

  • On the seige of Fallujah: "In my opinion, if anything should be sacrificed, it should be the entire Middle East. Our government tells us that we're at war against the terrorists, and though we were willing to drop two nuclear bombs on Japan and firebomb the city of Dresden to bring an end to World War 2, we as a civilian population have essentially tied the hands of the U.S. Military this time around, condemning hundreds (if not future thousands) of our soldiers to death because Wall Street brokers and Suburban Soccer-Moms can't stomach the thought of dropping another atom bomb to bring this conflict to a swift and necessary close." [20]
  • On the environment: "I'm a firm believer in consumption. The way I figure it, rampant consumption is the best answer to a rabid conservation movement whose agenda more and more reflects a greater concern for the survival and well-being of wildlife and plant species rather than for the survival and well-being of the human species." [21]
  • On whales and dolphins: "I think the human species has already modified the eco-system so much that it doesn't really matter anymore whether other animal species survive or collapse into mass extinction. And in my mind, that's a good thing, because I'm not interested in my own survival on this rock being dependent upon the continuation of species which can't even manage to avoid being trapped in a fishing net." [22]

For a while, Cartmell's website displayed a message to SourceWatch readers denouncing the Center for Media and Democracy, with a link to continue to his homepage. In September 2004, Cartmell decided to remove his blog from the internet. His website now contains nothing apart from a brief statement: "Thank you for visiting Cartmell.com.

Views on gay marriage

Advocates for Cartmell have used the following quotation from his blog to argue that his views are not exclusively right-wing: "It may be, as our culture progresses technologically, that more and more social reforms will follow, and the whole traditional structure of marriage and child-rearing will then be upended by significant advances in genetics and cloning. Until then, I believe that gay marriage is an issue to be decided at the State level, by and for the people of the State, without intervention by the Federal Government and as stipulated by the Bill of Rights." [23]

However, this selective quotation gives a misleading impression of his views on gay rights, as much of the blog article it is taken from is extremely unsympathetic to gay lifestyles. The title of the article is "Gay marriage is dumb". And in it, Cartmell concludes: "Until the Homosexual population decides to accept and participate in the traditional, mainstream values and structures they currently flout, then there's no rational argument that can be made for Homosexuals to require traditional, HOmainstream society to bestow its more sacrosanct rights and privileges upon them."

While that same article also stated "I don't support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to define marriage, as I believe that amending the Federal Constitution to create a Federal definition of what is essentially a religious ceremony contradicts the spirit of the Separation of Church and State ideal laid out in the First Amendment."

Views on religion

Although Cartmell is certainly right-wing, he is not a member of the religious right, as the following quotation from his blog article "Religion is bad for me" illustrates: "Ordinarily, I'm content to cut people some slack for their illogical and irrational belief systems. It most certainly is a free country, and one man's trash is another man's treasure. If it makes someone feel good to think that after he/she dies, then he/she will be taking a casual stroll down streets paved with pure gold as a heavenly symphony tunes its strings and the angelic choirs clear their collective throats in preparation for the mid-century recital (and you can throw in a host of virgins and a bunch of jeweled crowns for those inclined), then fine." [24]

Campaign contributions

Cartmell has donated money to both Democrat and Republican candidates and organizations [25].

His most recent contributions:

8/14/2006 $2100 - LIEBERMAN, JOSEPH I ( Independent )

7/20/2006 $2500 - BURNER, DARCY ( Democrat )

Many recipients of Cartmell's donations are local Seattle politicians: Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep Adam Smith (D-WA), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). There are two non-Seattle individual recipients, other than George W. Bush. These are Rep. Cal Dooley (D-CA) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont).

Cartmell gave $1000 to Sen. Burns in October 2000, whilst he was still CEO of eNIC. In 2001, Broadband Wireless Business Magazine wrote "In addition, Congress' assorted legislation concerning wireless spectrum auctions has certainly contributed to the development of broadband wireless as we know it today. Among the various political players, few are as influential as Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.). One of the architects of the Telecommunications Act, Burns is now both the ranking Republican on the Communications Subcommittee of the Commerce Committee and on the Science, Technology and Space Subcommittee." [26].

Cartmell's donation of $1000 to Rep. Dooley was in October 2000, the same month as his donation to Sen. Burns. In 2003, Rep. Dooley was presented the award of 'Cyber Champion' by the Business Software Alliance, "for his leadership on policies to expand U.S. access to foreign markets and help position the technology industry for renewed economic growth and continued market innovation" [27].

In 2002 Cartmell received two overlimit refunds of $500 each from Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) [28].

Cartmell also has contributed as a primary donor for the Singularity INstitute for Artificial Intelligence. [29]

Brian Cartmell's donations to the Cocos Islands versus the domain licensing deal negotiated by Tuvalu

The below comparisons are based on two entirely different models. DOT-TV ".tv" was owned by the Government of Tuvalu while DOT-CC ".cc" was originally delegated to a subsidiary of eNIC, an Australian Corporation, and not to the government of the Cocos Keeling Islands.

It is impossible to estimate the average donation per .cc registration made by Brian Cartmell to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, using figures provided by him [30]. Brian Cartmell secured the administration rights to .cc in October 1997. By February 2001, $2 million had been donated. And by the 4 year mark (October 2001), he says that over 500,000 registrations had been sold. That means that roughly (3.33/4)*500,000 = 416250 .cc registrations were made by February 2001. Thus the average donation per registration was $2 million / 416250 registrations = $4.8.

One obvious comparison to make is Tuvalu, another island group, this time in the South Pacific. Tuvalu's top-level domain, or TLD, is .tv. As with the .cc domain, this happens to be generic enough to be marketable on a global basis. However, unlike the Cocos Islands, Tuvalu has negotiated a series of commercial deals with foreign companies to market its TLD, with Tuvalu receiving a guaranteed cut in each case [31].

An initial licensing deal was struck in 1998 with a Canadian corporation [32]. However it had collapsed by May 1999, with little to show for it, after the company defaulted on payments [33].

Tuvalu then struck a deal with a Californian startup company, in April 2000 [34]. According to the New York Times, the deal envisaged that Tuvalu would receive at least $4 million a year for 12 years. Tuvalu also took a 20% equity in the company [35]. Thus, each year Tuvalu would receive twice Brian Cartmell's total donation to the Cocos Islands in less than a third of the time it took him to donate the money.

In the event, between April 2000 and July 2001, more than 200,000 .tv addresses were sold, and Tuvalu collected more than $20 million from the deal [36]. Thus, an average of 20,000,000/200,000 = $100 per registration went to Tuvalu during this period.

So Tuvalu's average fee per registration of $100 appears to have been about 20 times higher than the average donation per registration to the Cocos Islands of $5, made by Brian Cartmell.

Another way of looking at the figures is that Tuvalu made 10 times as much money as the Cocos Islands ($20 million vs $2 million) in less than half the time. Furthermore, the money was entirely in cash form rather than partly in donated infrastructure.

In early 2002, the Dot-TV Corporation was sold to Verisign [37]. The deal was renegotiated, and has proved less lucrative. Tuvalu has earned about $2.2 million per year from it. However, even under this deal, Tuvalu is receiving the same amount of money in one year that the Cocos Islands got in 3.3 years from Brian Cartmell. According to the Ottawa Citizen, by July 2004 Tuvalu lawmakers were complaining that they were not receiving enough from the deal [38].

Brian Cartmell's responses to the SourceWatch article

Initial response

Sometime in June or July 2004, Brian Cartmell modified his website so that visitors coming from the SourceWatch would see a special page, which disputed some assertions made by this article.

In it, he complained that being described as having had a 'career in Internet pornography', because he had spent several years working for a company which produced Adult Entertainment, was an attempt to 'discredit or slander my business experience'. He also disputed his description as a president of IEG, despite that being taken from a Seattle Weekly article which he himself links to from his website.

Advocates for Cartmell also dispute his characterization as a president of IEG, but have not provided any evidence to the contrary. Accepted practice in SourceWatch is to regard a mainstream media article as sufficient evidence to sustain an assertion.

Cartmell's Website correctly stated he was not President of IEG, which is shown by the Washingtn Secretary of State records showing Seth Warshavsky as President.

New response on 2nd July 2004

On 2nd July 2004, the special page on Cartmell's website for SourceWatch readers was replaced with the following statement, denouncing the SourceWatch and the Center for Media and Democracy. This change took place almost immediately after a number of edits supportive of Cartmell were made to this article, by user 168.143.113.124. That IP address belongs to the anonymizing service anonymizer.com.

The new statement reads:

"SourceWatch.com is a part of a larger network of privately funded, politically motivated 'information' sites operating under the generic umbrella of the Center for Media and Democracy. The Center's (if indeed a barely staffed, political-attack website can be called 'A Center') intended goal is stated as 'removing the barriers and distortions of the modern information environment that stem from government-or-corporate-dominated, hierachical (sic) media.' Yet, as the left-leaning Village Voice declared in an April, 2001 article, 'These guys come from the far side of liberal.'"

"Confusing hearsay with research, CMD does indeed distinguish itself within the modern information environment by encouraging 'open content', which entrusts 'citizens from all walks of life' (i.e. inexperienced and/or willfully biased journalistic sources who are accountable to no one) to hide behind veils of anonymity while posting tirades against public figures that more often than not are laughably one-sided and riddled with factual distortions, if not outright inaccuracies."

The Village Voice quotation cited by Cartmell is from a review of the book Trust Us, We're Experts! [39] The sentence immediately following it reads: "Saying so is not to detract from their exhaustively detailed reportage and calmly convincing tone; indeed, the book is generally light on rhetoric, and there's hardly a radical quoted."

Apparent attempts by an unknown person to spam search engines with links favorable to Brian Cartmell

The July spamming scheme

As at July 18th 2004, a search in Google for "check out the brian cartmell blog" revealed an apparently systematic attempt to distort search engine results for "brian cartmell". In early August 2004, after this article exposed this apparent search engine spamming scheme, the scheme was dismantled, and the search engine results for 'Brian Cartmell' gradually returned to normal. Therefore, here is a screenshot of the Google search results on July 18th 2004.

The search produced a large number of dummy sites, all of which had fairly identical content. Going directly to any of the sites resulted in a redirection to infocrawler.com. However, examining the 'cached' text stored by Google showed that the sites in question were presenting completely different contents to Google. Google was seeing a fairly meaningless collection of links, which could not be considered to be 'genuine content'. For example, here is a screenshot of the Google cache's copy of www.afbmanagement.com at 19th July 2004. Presenting different content to a search engine spider than is seen by a regular web user is a well-known technique for spamming the contents of a search engine. Google states that "setting up pages/links with the sole purpose of fooling search engines may result in permanent removal from our index" [40].

The content cached by Google for these sites included links to various pages presenting more favorable aspects of Brian Cartmell's life. Each link was associated with the text 'Brian Cartmell', helping to promote those pages when someone searches for 'Brian Cartmell'. Some of the links were:

  • a link to Brian Cartmell's blog,
  • a link to a UK Guardian profile of Brian Cartmell,
  • a link to a press release highlighting a $10,000 dollar donation by Brian Cartmell to the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence,
  • news articles about Brian Cartmell's latest venture, SpamArrest.

The domains in question are registered to a variety of addresses. Many are registered to 'NewDom LLC' in Las Vegas. However, the technical contact for 'afbmanagement.com' is given as 1916 Pike Place in Seattle, WA. An internet posting made in 1998 identifies 1916 Pike Place with Brian Cartmell [41]. Here is an excerpt from the WHOIS information:

Domain Name: AFBMANAGEMENT.COM
Administrative Contact:
[snip]
Technical Contact:
Getadomain Domain Technical Group technical@getadomain.com
Getadomain
1916 Pike Place #12 PMB 367
Seattle, WA 98101
US
Phone: (206) 329-7900
Fax: (206) 329-7107

Brian Cartmell currently runs a company which offers a service to block email spam.

The September spamming scheme - more stealthy, but only works for Google

In early September 2004, monitoring of the Google search results for 'Brian Cartmell' revealed that a new spamming scheme appeared to be in operation. Many of the sites involved in the previous scheme began to appear in the results again. However, Google was no longer caching these sites, and was not even displaying any text from them in its results pages. It was therefore more difficult to determine the nature of the scheme. Also, the new scheme only affects Google - the Yahoo and MSN search engines do not appear to be affected.

The sites involved in the scheme can be seen by searching Google for "brian cartmell is a large investor in Michael Moore Hates America" [42]. This returns 22 results, all of which are classified by Google as containing "very similar content" [43]. It is virtually certain that whoever is responsible for the new spamming scheme will modify or remove it now that it has been exposed. Therefore, here are screengrabs of the two preceding searches as at 9th September 2004, without duplicate results and with duplicate results.

Fortunately, by changing the 'user agent' setting in one's browser, it is quite easy to see what Google is seeing on these sites. Instructions for doing this in Mozilla Firefox are provided on this page. One needs to change the user agent setting for one's browser to

"Googlebot/2.1 (+&#104ttp:&#47&#47www.googlebot.com/bot.html)"

(without the quotes). The sites involved in the scheme will then believe that your browser is the Google indexing robot and present the content intended for Google.

Again, because it is likely that the new spamming scheme will soon be modified or removed, here is a screengrab of www.thekidsshow.org as at 9th September 2004, which is one of the sites involved, as seen with the a browser whose User Agent setting has been set to mimic the Googlebot. At the foot of the page, a long, grammatically incorrect paragraph has been appended to the original content of the site, with numerous links containing the text 'Brian Cartmell'. Note that 'thekidsshow.org' also featured in the list of sites involved in the July spamming scheme.

Of particular note is the fact that the site www.enic.com appears to be participating in the spamming scheme. Here is a screengrab of where it appears in the Google results. And here is a screengrab of www.enic.com as viewed with the Googlebot user-agent setting. eNIC was Brian Cartmell's domain name registration business. And according to the WHOIS database, enic.com is registered to 1916 Pike Pl, #12-367, Seattle, WA 98101, which as described above was associated - at least in the past - with Brian Cartmell [44].

Examination of the HTML for thekidsshow.org also reveals why no content from the sites involved in the scheme is displayed in the Google search results - the page is using the "GOOGLEBOT - NOSNIPPET" meta tag. Presumably the Yahoo and MSN search engines do not support a NOSNIPPET tag, which is why the spamming scheme's architect has not felt able to implement it for those search engines.

Brian Cartmell's lawsuit against Justin La Plante

Brian Cartmell brought a lawsuit against Wisconsin resident Justin La Plante on 7-20-2004 in response to comments made by La Plante about him on the IMDB.com website. The case, the file number of which is 04-2-17647-6SEA, was heard in the Superior Court of The state of Washington for the County of King before Judge Hayden. Brian Cartmell was represented, by Derek Newman and Randall Moeller of Newman and Newman, a Seattle-based law firm.

The Case was dismissed by Cartmell on 12-30-2005.

There is no outstanding judgement in the case, though several times changes have been made to this article to attempt to indicate otherwise.

Cartmell was granted a compensatory judgement on April 4, 2005 because La Plante had refused to answer discovery questions outside the court room (5th Amendment right) but this judgement was dismissed along with Cartmell's request to dismiss the case.

Entire Case Docket of the Lawsuit.

SourceWatch resources

External links