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Porn spam suit dismissal sought

Mountain View, Ca- Attorneys for a California man asked an East Central District Court judge Tuesday to dismiss a Fargo man’s suit over an Internet site.

Attorneys for Ed Falk, Mountain View, Calif., and Jerry Reynolds, Fargo, appeared before Judge Frank Racek in Fargo for a hearing on the suit filed more than a year ago.

Reynolds sued Falk for defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional interference with a business. Falk, a 47-year-old computer programmer, said on his Web site, www.rahul.net/falk, that Reynolds once drove the largest porn spam operation on the Internet.

Reynolds is listed only as “John Doe” in court papers, but The Forum identified him as the plaintiff in a Feb. 23, 2005, story on the suit after cross-checking court papers with Falk’s Web site.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Falk testified via teleconference from California, as did John R. Levine, one of the authors of “Internet for Dummies.”

Under questioning by Christopher Harristhal of Minneapolis, one of Reynolds’ attorneys, Falk testified that he got the information on Reynolds by doing a search on an Internet site that compiles public records on ownership of Web sites.

In closing arguments at the hearing, Michelle Donarski of Fargo, one of Falk’s attorneys, said that while Reynolds was claiming contact between Falk and various people in North Dakota – thus giving the court here jurisdiction – that contact only happened after Reynolds’ lawyers threatened a lawsuit.

Harristhal argued that Falk told a Forum reporter a year ago that he was tracking Reynolds and accused Falk of trying to “hide behind the Internet.”

He traced Web sites with which Reynolds was connected to servers located in North Dakota and his contact with people in North Dakota was grounds for the state’s jurisdiction, Harristhal said.

Racek took Falk’s motion to dismiss the suit under advisement and will issue a ruling later.

Harristhal would not comment after the hearing.

Donarski said Racek’s ruling could have far-reaching effects on legal cases involving the Internet, since it runs through servers all over the world and it’s yet to be settled who has jurisdiction in cases involving Web sites.

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