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Toywar
etoy.corporation, Switzerland
Toywar, 1999
Web site
Selected by: Jon Ippolito
In November of 1999 the online toy retailer etoys.com managed to shut down the Web site of the venerable artist collective etoy.com. Although the artists had registered their domain name two years before the trinket salesmen registered theirs, the corporation happened to register their “trademark” first. Ignoring the fact that US trademarks don’t have automatic jurisdiction over an international territory like cyberspace, a California judge granted a temporary injunction blocking public access to the artists’ domain. The timing of this action occurred a few months before the Christmas that many predicted would be the first real moneymaking season for e-commerce. This seemed to confirm that corporate giants would soon overpower grass-roots collectives encouraged by the democratic protocols that spurred innovation in the early Internet.

Responding to a call for a campaign against the toy giant orchestrated by the hacktivist clearinghouse ®™ark, online artists and hackers e-mailed journalists, posted exhortations to disinvest on electronic bulletin boards frequented by etoys’ stockholders, and used virtual sit-in software to tie up the toy purveyor's server with random subscribers and counterfeit shopping carts. The spurious visitors automatically generated by the FloodNet-style software cast into doubt etoys’ hit counts, which just happen to be one of the benchmarks by which investors valued etoys’ stock. That stock tumbled 70% off its original value over the course of ®™ark’s “toywar,” and etoys.com formally withdrew their suit in January 2000. If hacktivists are artists, then Toywar was their way of looking after their own.
etoy.corporation
zak@etoy.com
www.etoy.com