announce0041 on Thu, 10 Feb 2000 21:15:01 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The Legacy of eToys

Trying to take over website, company buckles at threat of attack

     Matthew Anderson:
     Autodesk, Inc.:,
     More information:,,
        etoy/eToys update:
     (more contacts and links listed at end)

When thousands of activists forced Internet toy giant eToys to withdraw
its lawsuit against art site last month, one of their bigger
goals was to create a chill on all of e-commerce, so that companies using
the Internet would think twice before trying to steal precious bits of
online public space. 

This goal seems to be a few steps closer to being fulfilled. Last week a
user of told RTMark that Autodesk, a company that
makes a product coincidentally called 3D Studio, was attempting to shut
down the forum, which is used by hundreds of 3D artists to freely trade
graphics. According to webmaster Matthew Anderson, he and
the artists who use the site had written hundreds of e-mails to Autodesk
explaining the purpose of the forum and begging them to leave it alone,
but Autodesk had never replied to anyone. 

Friday night, RTMark informed the parties concerned that it would help
sponsor an eToys-style attack against Autodesk.

Within hours, Autodesk announced that it would relent from its suit, and
on Monday morning Martin M. Konopken, Senior Corporate Counsel for
Autodesk, officially informed Anderson and RTMark that all threats against were being withdrawn; a link to was even
placed on the Autodesk website. (See for
full correspondence.) 

"Now if they jump like that BEFORE being threatened, we'll have achieved
something nice," said RTMark spokesperson Ernest Lucha. But Lucha said
that goal is still far away. "So many companies are still behaving like
thugs on the Web. The HMO Health Net is trying to destroy, founded in 1993 by a Nobel-winning cardiologist
to connect doctors in the developing world; Leonardo Finance is suing the
thirty-year-old art magazine, Leonardo, for its name; even the Vatican has
gotten into the act, by stealing from an artists' group with
the complicity of Network Solutions [the company that controls Internet
domain names]. We know of dozens of such cases. Each of these aggressors
must be informed that they're vulnerable to attack just like eToys, and
could easily lose it all in a matter of weeks." (E-mail addresses and
information links can be found at the end of this release.) 

"We must ensure that eToys fulfills its role as the Brent Spar of
e-commerce," said Reinhold Grether, an Internet researcher and a
mastermind of the anti-eToys campaigns. "Just as the Brent Spar fiasco
forced the petroleum industry to listen to environmentalists, so
e-commerce companies must continue to be reminded that the Internet
doesn't belong to them, and that they can't do whatever they want with

But even if RTMark and other activists are successful in intimidating
companies into behaving well on the Internet, there are bigger goals that
must also be kept in mind, said lawyer and RTMark member Rita Mae Rakoczi.
"Companies' fear of Web activists doesn't help the thousands of victims of
toxic waste dumps who are sued into silence, nor the scientists who are
intimidated into practicing shoddy science for the sake of corporate
profit, nor the millions of citizens--demeaningly called 'consumers'--who
reap the poisonous fruits of bad science and other corporate lies." 

Rakoczi sees the solution to widespread corporate criminality in legal
reform. "It's not a matter of creating new laws; there are swarms of old
laws that need rescinding--starting with a flawed 1886 Supreme Court
decision granting corporations, those entities whose only possible aim is
profit, the rights of people. Then there are all the laws and decisions
built onto that, like the 'money = speech' decision that declares
spending, and hence political lobbying by huge corporations, a form of
protected free speech." 

"Corporations use their legal standing in predictable ways," said Rakoczi,
"but not a one has ever received a lethal injection. Only wide-ranging,
visionary legal reform can address the enormous problems of corporate
crime. Protecting the Internet, important as it is, is only a stepping
stone to that goal." 

RTMark aims to publicize the widespread corporate abuse of democratic
institutions like courts and elections. To this end it solicits and
distributes funding for "sabotage projects," groups of which are called
"mutual funds" in order to call attention to one way in which large
numbers of people come to identify corporate needs as their own. 

Additional links: information:
        contact: (818)676-6775,
    Leonardo Finance information:
    The Holy See information:
        contact: +39-06-698.92.434/443/442,
    Skippy Peanut Butter information:
        contact: 201-894-4000,
        Network Solutions contacts:, 
    Shell Oil:
    Other cases:
    Corporate history:

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