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Gourmet Coffee Roaster Convicted for Libel and Hacking Rival Website

A body of judges has found a connoisseur of coffee at Arcata guilty of damaging the reputation of a competitor coffee company by hijacking its Web site and adding links to it for directing it to pages exhibiting pornography.

Roasting director, Tim Dominick of Sacred Grounds in Arcata proved guilty on February 15, 2007 of two instances of libel and one instance of intentionally causing emotional strain against the proprietors of Bayside Roasters.

Tim Dominick bought the website domain of Bayside Roasters and linked its pages to one containing obscene material.

Owners of Bayside Roasters and plaintiffs in the case, Pamela and Kregen Olsen said that Dominick manipulated an expired Internet domain name registration to gain benefit by trying to bring down their business and reputation after linking it to offensive comments and pornography. Times Standard published Olsens' statement on February 17, 2007.

Steve Schectman, lawyer on behalf of Dominick said that his client did buy the domain name of Bayside Roasters in November 2005. But he arranged the site in such a manner that when anyone typed in http://www.baysideroasters.com it would display the Urban Directory Web site to "10 definitions of a --- hole" by default.

Schectman said that when Dominick received a notification on November 29, 2005 saying that Olsens were seeking the removal of the offensive link, Dominick deleted it.

The Olsen couple's lawyer, Bill Barnum said in December 2006 that the Olsens found their domain name in the Google search hits. On searching the name Bayside Roasters on the search engine, one of the results recommended a pornographic Web site as the best site.

According to the jury, Dominick had caused the pornographic site on top of the Google search hits when users entered in Bayside Roasters. This practice is known as "Google bombing".

Schectman refuted the jury's argument saying that Dominick did nothing to "Google bomb" the Bayside Roasters name and said that the jury's verdict against Dominick was an 'emotional judgment' fallacy.

The jury announced $37,000 as compensatory damages to Bayside Roasters' owners and it will declare on Tuesday the amount they will receive in punitive damages.

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