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Guinness Records revises 'Most Downloaded Woman' title

(CNN) -- Like prizefighters unwilling to relinquish their titles, the two women vying for the honor of being the most downloaded on the Internet have come out swinging in the latest round of this ongoing fight.

But Guinness Records, the world's official compiler of the unique, the astounding and the downright disturbing, has intervened with a new compromise that it hopes will settle the dispute -- for now.

Just one week ago, Guinness Records had crowned Web entrepreneur Danni Ashe as the new queen of the download. Ashe's pages contain nudity and adult themes, but she manages to imbue the site with a friendly feel and stays away from explicit hardcore pornography.

It appeared that the previous titleholder, actress Cindy Margolis, would no longer lay claim to the Guinness Record, though she still had acknowledgement from Yahoo! Internet Life and other Web publications. Margolis' most risque attire is a bikini or lingerie, which she models on her pages.

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Unwilling to simply accept the Guinness Records decision, Margolis' people went into high gear and asked the respected publication to reconsider its findings.

Consequently, there are now two titles in the Guinness Records' "Most Downloaded Woman on the Web" category, based on accessibility -- one for free sites and one for pay sites.

Neil Hayes, spokesman for Guinness Records in London, said the reason for splitting the category in two was to respond to the different ways in which new media has developed.

"We have employed similar distinctions between attendance records for free and paid-for concerts, and for print runs of free and paid-for books," Hayes said. "All we are doing in this instance is taking our existing criteria into a new medium."

Both records are for figures collected only from fully tracked sites and counted over a 12-month basis, which can be any 12-month period and not just the preceding months, states the Guinness Records ruling.

"Guinness World Records is a recorder of superlative facts," it also notes. "We are in the business of gathering records of all kinds. We neither condone nor condemn the content of those records."

Ashe now holds the current record for Most Downloaded Woman from a paid site, which can also include cost-free images, at a figure of 240 million downloads in the calendar year 1999.

Margolis has the Most Downloaded Woman on a cost-free site, with the figure of 53 million downloads between April 1999 and 2000.

And although the two competitors have accepted the new Guinness Records ruling, neither party is ready to throw in the towel.

Ashe said during a telephone interview that while Guinness Records has been "fair" in their handling of the matter, she said she is still frustrated by the outcome.

"No matter how you look at it, no matter how many lame arguments Cindy wants to make, my numbers are bigger and she'll just have to get used to it," Ashe said.

In the other download corner, Margolis' publicist Neil Cirucci said he is convinced that Ashe receives large volumes of traffic from links posted on porn sites with misspelled names that resemble Margolis' official site.

In an earlier interview with CNN.com, Cirucci likened the dispute to the various boxing titles that carry the distinction of heavyweight champion of the world, each one recognized by a different sporting body.

And Cirucci said the title isn't nearly as important as it was when Margolis was initially awarded it four years ago, especially since her career has taken off outside the confines of the Web. Margolis is currently hosting a weekly variety show on TV and has appeared in several films.

But Ashe said the efforts of Margolis' camp paint another picture.

"It's clearly very important to them," Ashe said. "I'm really amazed at how desperately she's behaving."

Ashe began her site in 1995 with $8,000 worth of computer equipment and a crash study in the HTML Manual of Style, and subsequently developed it into a multi-million dollar operation.

Ashe maintains that much of her main site is accessible without any cost, and she says she'll continue to pursue both records in the future.

No matter how the hits are generated, all parties agreed that the intensity of the competition underscores the significance of marketing through the Web.



RELATED STORIES:
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August 11, 2000
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Guinness World Records


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