annarborpublicschools.org was hosted by godaddy.com, the domain registered in late January, 2006, through godaddy, but with "privacy" through domainsbyproxy.com, who list their name, instead of the original registrar's, in the whois database for some level of protection from spamming and junk mail and so on.
When DomainsByProxy received the cease and desist (C&D) letter, they simply caved, making their "privacy" service ltle more than a joke. Of course, the whole thing was not their fight, but they were ... lame. They would not forward me the C&D letter so I couldn't know the details of the complaint. It was very difficult to get them on the phone (my impression was/is that there was really only one person working there). After much back and forth, I was told that I had to contact the law firm by March 9, 2006, at 5 pm, Ann Arbor time, or that "privacy" would be dropped, thereby exposing my name in the whois database.
I contacted the law firm on March 7, through the website, staying essentially anonymous. I received an email back with a PDF copy of the cease and desist (C&D) letter and saying that I needed to give them a more "substantive" response. There was no explanation as to what that meant. I emailed back asking what was meant by "substantive" and never received a reply. That all became moot, because when I contacted DomainsByProxy and asked, the man there told me that all I had to do to prevent DomainsByProxy from dropping "privacy" was to contact the law firm with my name, address, phone number and email address. I pointed out the obvious Catch 22 there: I had to make known my identity in order to prevent my identity from being known. He didn't see anything ironic about it. That was my first clue about his intelligence and gave me little confidence that I would be able to manage my situation armed with real information.
Since I was out of the country and had limited access to a good computer and internet connection, managing the buzz and the web site was nearly impossible. I thought about transferring the site to a registrar that would not cave so easily, but to do so, I was told, would require dropping privacy. Of course keeping some anonymity was the point of transferring the site. Another Catch 22. I tried to make some small changes to the site, but could not keep up. Had I been able to, I could have made some changes to the web site to satisfy the "copyright infringements" the law firm alleged. I would have then likely left the site up.
I decided on March 7, to take the site down. I was hoping to do so early in the day on March 9, but things got complicated and so on March 8, I took the site down and cancelled the domain.
As it turned out, my name was allowed to appear in the whois database on March 8, about 24 hours before the deadline I was told by DomainsByProxy.
Needless to say, DomainsByProxy was less than helpful in navigating any of the legal waters here. It was impossible to get DomainsByProxy to tell me what they really needed from me in order to satisfy them or the law firm. Though of course, I had never expected too, too much in the way of "cloaking", I can't recommend their services for "privacy" for any but the blandest of web sites. godaddy.com was also not too helpful: I got very different and often contradictory information from the 5 or 6 different phone representatives I spoke with about such things as domain transfers, privacy, whois database entries, timing between all of them, and more.
So because of my situation at the time:
I was unable to properly change the site or even fully understand my legal situation and act accordingly.
When it was obvious that my name would come out because of DomainsByProxy's and the law firm's lack of response, I decided to "out" myself and contact the Ann Arbor News. They had tried contacting me on my cell phone and via the annarborpublicschools.org site, but the timing was all off and by the time I shut down the site, they could no longer contact me.
I finally called the Ann Arbor News to come clean and tell my name and story on March 8. That is when I found out that my name was already out (again, 24 hours before the deadline DomainsByProxy told me) and that the story with that information had already run in the paper.
I'm still happy that the annarborpublicshools.org had over 35,000 hits in its 10-day to 2-week life. Humor succeeded to a small extent, where serious discusssion had not.