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JUDGE REJECTS SUIT ON INTERNET ADDRESSES
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JUDGE REJECTS SUIT ON INTERNET ADDRESSES

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A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit opposing part of the $100 fee people paid to register Internet addresses.

Lawyer William Bode, representing a group of people who paid the fee, said Wednesday he will appeal the ruling and seek an emergency freeze of roughly $62 million already collected by the government's contractor.At stake are millions of dollars in potential refunds for Internet address holders.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan's ruling to dismiss Bode's lawsuit frees the money, kept in the National Science Foundation's Intellectual Infrastructure Fund, to be spent on Internet development and research.

The judge initially sided with Bode, ruling in April that the disputed $30 fee was actually an illegal tax and imposing a freeze on the money.

But the judge ruled last week that a law passed by Congress this year makes Bode's lawsuit moot, because the new law retroactively authorizes the government's contractor, Network Solutions Inc., to collect a $30 tax for each Internet address registered.

``The tax is now legally imposed,' the judge said.

Between September 1995 and March 1998, Network Solutions collected the $30 fee from customers who registered Internet addresses with the suffixes ``com,' ``net' and ``org.' Neither Network Solutions nor the government collects the fee anymore. The $30 of the $100 cost for a two-year registration went to the science foundation's infrastructure fund, and the contractor kept the remaining $70.

About a third of the roughly $62 million has been earmarked for spending to develop the next generation of the Internet, but none of it has been spent.

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