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Learn more about SMCP Project SMCP: Model corporate behavior using Artificial Life
      
      
      
Autodesk, the legacy of eToys Past projects / The etoy Fund / Autodesk
On Thursday, January 27, 2000, an outside firm hired by software giant Autodesk sent a threatening letter to The3DStudio.com webmaster Matthew Anderson demanding that he relinquish the domain within fifteen (15) days or face an expensive and agonizing lawsuit.

During the subsequent week, Anderson attempted to resolve the problem, and he and many users of The3DStudio.com wrote to Autodesk and the outside firm, explaining the situation and begging them to lay off; no one received so much as a word of reply. (See here for some of those letters.)

Finally, a user of The3DStudio.com alerted ®TMark to the situation. Here is a blow-by-blow of what happened next; see also these articles for well-written summaries:

  1. Fri, 4 Feb 2000: A user of The3DStudio.com alerts ®TMark to Autodesk's aggression against The3DStudio.com
  2. Fri, 4 Feb 2000: The3DStudio.com webmaster Anderson also writes to ®TMark
  3. Fri, 4 Feb 2000: ®TMark responds
  4. Sat, 5 Feb 2000: Autodesk responds, calls ®TMark's reaction "premature," assures prompt action on Monday morning, cc's Anderson
  5. Sat, 5 Feb 2000: Anderson wonders why none of his e-mails was ever answered by Autodesk
  6. Mon, 7 Feb 2000: Anderson yet again contacts the outside firm to figure out how to resolve things
  7. Mon, 7 Feb 2000: An in-house Autodesk lawyer responds, and Anderson offers to post a disclaimer, as he had long before offered (to no effect or response)
  8. Mon, 7 Feb 2000: The Autodesk lawyer responds and instantly agrees to the disclaimer and says he is glad they "were able to work things out so quickly"
  9. Mon, 7 Feb 2000: Anderson, having posted the disclaimer, asks for formal resolution, plus free software as token apology for so much annoyance by Autodesk
  10. Mon, 7 Feb 2000: The Autodesk lawyer grants resolution, but refuses token gesture
  11. Mon, 7 Feb 2000: Anderson graciously thanks the Autodesk lawyer anyhow for finally giving him some peace
  12. Mon, 7 Feb 2000: Autodesk informs ®TMark of the resolution between Anderson and the Autodesk lawyer, wants to make sure no campaign is launched
  13. Tue, 8 Feb 2000: ®TMark responds with a press release
  14. Wed, 9 Feb 2000: The Autodesk lawyer explains Autodesk's position to a third party
  15. Wed, 9 Feb 2000: The Autodesk lawyer explains Autodesk's position to ®TMark
  16. Wed, 9 Feb 2000: ®TMark thanks the Autodesk lawyer but asks why, between Jan. 27 and Feb. 4, no one responded to hundreds of e-mails to explain Autodesk's position
  17. Wed, 9 Feb 2000: The Autodesk lawyer says he was out and his e-mail wasn't working
  18. Wed, 9 Feb 2000: ®TMark tells the Autodesk lawyer that that's not a good enough excuse, and brings up another point
  19. Wed, 9 Feb 2000: The Autodesk lawyer accuses ®TMark of being "polemical," refuses to answer
  20. Thu, 10 Feb 2000: ®TMark answers for the Autodesk lawyer, and also for Autodesk

Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2000 18:32:49 -0600
From: Steve / Landru <landru@bigfoot.com>
To: info@rtmark.com
Cc:
CustomerService@Autodesk.com, mhughes@hickman.com
Subject: Info: Another Terrorist evil corporation

AutoDesk (http://www.autodesk.com/) has joined the ranks of the evil corporations trying to dominate and control the internet by harassing and threatening domain name holders. Fortunately, since they have a large internet presence, AutoDesk can be brought down in the same way that RTMark helped bring down Etoys (http://rtmark.com/etoyprtriumph.html).

Please consider a "fund" for AutoDesk!

Here is the URL to their threat letter: http://www.the3dstudio.com/legal.htm


Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2000 20:09:25 -0500 (EST)
From: RTMARK Admin <admin@rtmark.com>
To: Steve / Landru <landru@bigfoot.com>
Cc:
CustomerService@Autodesk.com, mhughes@hickman.com,
webmaster@autodesk.com, info@autodesk.com,
info@kinetix.com

Subject: Re: Info: Another Terrorist evil corporation

Indeed, Steve, this is OUTRAGEOUS. I have spoken with my associates here at RTMark and we unanimously agree it merits the kind of attention we poured on eToys--as you know, they just suffered the public relations disaster of their history, a disaster that has been widely credited with contributing to the 80% stock market fall (that began the very day our campaign did). And finally, of course, they had to give in.

We will be assembling the necessary components for a wide-ranging campaign against Autodesk in the next days. Several of these components should be identical to those we deployed against eToys. A Virtual Sit-in is of course de rigueur, and likely to cripple the Autodesk servers even better than it did those of eToys, which was prepared for enormous traffic. (For more on our effect on the eToys servers, see the CNN report: http://cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/9912/17/mlld.00.html (search on word "RTMark" on the page).)

We will speak more shortly.

http://rtmark.com/
Bringing IT to YOU.


Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2000 18:14:36 -0700
From: Matthew Anderson <webmaster@the3dstudio.com<>>
To: info@rtmark.com
Subject: Autodesk vs The 3D Studio

I just received a few emails from some people that mentioned your site and I guess they told you my story!

I am the webmaster and owner of www.the3dstudio.com and the one Autodesk is trying to bully.

If you can help me that would be GREAT!

THANK YOU!!!!!!

Matthew Anderson


Date: Sat, 5 Feb 2000 14:55:55 -0800
From: The Super-user <
rootcsh2@autodesk.com>
To: admin@rtmark.com, webmaster@the3dstudio.com
Subject: Reply from Autodesk

To: Matthew S. Anderson and RTMark Administrator,

We have received your messages. We think that the proposed actions of RTMark are premature. The person at Autodesk who is authorized to make a decision on this issue is back in the office on Monday (Febuary 7th). We are favorable to the steps taken by Mr. Anderson (removing the 3D model on the www.the3dstudio.com web site which had the ownership issues and removing the "3D Studio Max Webring" logo) and may need further clarification on the remaining issues. We would appreciate you holding off from a campaign against Autodesk until we can discuss this further with you. We will respond on Monday.

Sincerely,

Autodesk


Date: Sat, 5 Feb 2000 16:41:44 -0700
From: Matthew Anderson <webmaster@the3dstudio.com>
To:
rootcsh2@autodesk.com
Cc: admin@rtmark.com
Subject: Re: Reply from Autodesk

>We are favorable to the steps taken by Mr. Anderson (removing the 3D
>model on the www.the3dstudio.com web site which had the ownership issues

Funny, this issue was never even mentioned in the letter from your lawyer. Beyond that, the issue of the model was taken care of the day it was brought to my attention which was back in December of 1999.

>and removing the "3D Studio Max Webring" logo) and may need further
>clarification on the remaining issues.

Again, the MAX ring is not owned by myself or my website...I was only following the guidelines set forth by the MAX ring owner. This issue should have been checked into more before sending me a letter about it. As for remaining issues, I look forward to talking about them, whatever they may be.

> We would appreciate you holding
>off from a campaign against Autodesk until we can discuss this further
>with you. We will respond on Monday.

Sounds good, though I don't know why none of my emails ever got a response until I brought RTMARK into it. Funny how that works.

Of course all of these emails and any other information will be posted on my site for the public to keep an eye on.

Thank you,
Matthew Anderson
www.the3dstudio.com


Date: Monday, February 7, 2000 7:10:27 AM
From: Matthew Anderson <webmaster@the3dstudio.com>
Subject: Phone Number For You
To:
mhughes@hickman.com

I was told you want to talk about the3dstudio.com and Autodesk today before RTMARK rips into Autodesk for bullying me. If so, my number is below....it is my day time work number, I am here until 2pm AZ time.

After that you can call me at home at XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Thanks.

Matthew Anderson


Date: Monday, February 7, 2000 10:54:25 AM
From: Matthew Anderson <webmaster@the3dstudio.com>
Subject: How about this
To:
martin.konopken@autodesk.com

Martin-

Check out the attached file, it is the main part of my home page....the formatting isn't all there because my site is all done in a database not just HTML so the text will be Arial and will be white on black (not black on white like it is here). Other than that it will be the same.

Let me know what you think, or if you want any changes made.

Also, if this is good I will make it live shortly, but I also want your word that ktx.com will add a link to my site on their learning page where it was before all of this happened. I will be printing the outcome on page when that link is in place again and will then notify the people at RTM.

Please reply ASAP so I know you got this.

Thank you,
Matthew Anderson
www.the3dstudio.com


Date: Monday, February 7, 2000 11:07:26 AM
From:
martin.konopken@autodesk.com
Subject: RE: How about this
To: Matthew Anderson <webmaster@the3dstudio.com>

Matthew,

Your disclaimer looks fine. Once it's up I'll find out who does the linking on the ktx.com site here and tell him/her that the link should be restored. I hope when you describe the resolution of all this you will let people know that despite the misunderstandings caused by the tone of legal-sounding language, we're not really bullies but just trying to protect our reputation. When we started getting flame mail from people who thought your site was ours and that we had misused their copyrighted work, we got very concerned. The people flaming us obviously didn't know that we weren't you, and that you had already fixed the problem.

Thanks for your cooperative attitude about all this--I'm glad we were able to work things out so quickly.

Regards,

Martin Konopken
Senior Corporate Counsel
Autodesk, Inc.


Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2000 12:12:46 -0700
From: Matthew Anderson <webmaster@the3dstudio.com>
To:
martin.konopken@autodesk.com
Cc: admin@rtmark.com
Subject: Re: RE: How about this

Martin-

Okay, updated the site, take a look and let me know what you think. If you like it please let me know when the link at ktx.com to my site will be back up.

I am copying RTM on this so they know that the situation between Autodesk and www.the3dstudio.com has been resolved.

So, you guys wanna float me a copy of MAX 3.1 to show that there are now hard feelings? How about some site support....I get many satisfied customers and can only help Autodesk as everything on my site is free, not many sites give away high quality pre-textured MAX models! A copy of MAX would be a write off to you guys, and I would be more than happy to let everyone out there know just how gracious you all have been about this....what do ya think? Isn't that the least you could do for my troubles:)

Matthew Anderson
www.the3dstudio.com


Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2000 12:01:27 -0800
From:
martin.konopken@autodesk.com
To: webmaster@the3dstudio.com
Cc: admin@rtmark.com
Subject: RE: RE: How about this

Matthew,

I looked at your updated site and it's as we agreed. The webmaster at ktx.com tells me he'll be able to have the link to your site back up some time today. As to the free software, well, we don't think that would be appropriate but we can't fault a guy for asking.

Martin M. Konopken
Senior Corporate Counsel
Autodesk, Inc.


Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2000 13:11:15 -0700
From: Matthew Anderson <webmaster@the3dstudio.com>
To:
martin.konopken@autodesk.com
Cc: admin@rtmark.com
Subject: Re: RE: RE: How about this

Okay.

As for free software, I thought Autodesk would want to turn this WRONG into a RIGHT. Kind of a like a gesture of your good will, after all everyone who emailed me in support (a few hundred mind you) all thought that would be the only way to turn this around.

Beyond that I would be supporting your product and your company, consider it a marketing expense.

I actually thought you guys would jump at the chance to get off that easy and come out of this whole mess looking good.

your call.

Matthew Anderson


Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2000 10:59:00 -0800
From: The Super-user <
rootcsh2@autodesk.com>
To: admin@rtmark.com
Subject: Update from Autodesk

To: RTMark Administrator,

One of the Autodesk lawyers spoke with Matthew Anderson this morning (Monday 02/07) and we believe that they have come to an agreement which is acceptable to both parties. Matthew said that he would contact RTMark to request that no campaign is launched against Autodesk.

Sincerely,

Autodesk


(In response to a third-party letter of complaint to Konopken.)
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 13:06:35 -0800
From: martin.konopken@autodesk.com
To: webmaster@er3.com
Cc: autodeskinfo@rtmark.com
Subject: FW: Your e-mail

Thank you for your e-mail. I thought you might be interested in our side of the story. We had been bombarded with flame mails accusing us of copyright infringement on our website, which actually wasn't ours but Mr. Anderson's. Because of the name confusion our reputation was being severely damaged. Hence the letter from the outside lawyer. I then left town for a week a came back to learn of Mr. Anderson's response and how people were misinterpreting our actions. I'm forwarding you the e-mail I sent to rtmark.com and one I sent to Mr. Anderson. When I finally had a chance to talk to Mr. Anderson I was reassured that weren't dealing with a bad-intentioned individual and settled the matter accordingly. You must be aware that there are many on the internet whose good faith one cannot take for granted. Perhaps our approach in dealing with the matter came across as a bit too heavy, but we'd rather be thought of as slightly heavy-handed than as people who steal copyrighted works.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Martin M. Konopken
Senior Corporate Counsel
Autodesk, Inc.


Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 10:34:28 -0800
From: martin.konopken@autodesk.com
To: admin@rtmark.com
Subject: FW: How about this

I've noticed your site contains an e-mail trail about the the3dstudio.com matter but doesn't include the e-mail below [this one]. I'd like to state for the record that we reached agreement with Mr. Anderson because after talking with him it was clear that he was acting in good faith and shared our interest in reaching a reasonable solution. I made clear to him that the reason we took action was because we were being accused by numerous people of wrongfully using their copyrighted images on our website, that site being the3dstudio.com which of course is Mr. Andersons, not ours. Mr. Anderson explained that the images were put up inadvertently and that he had long since corrected the error, and I responded that apparently quite a few people had not yet learned of his corrective action and were confusing his site with ours. When that was cleared up we reached an agreement to resolve the matter in a way that will avoid this kind of confusion in the future. It would be a mistake to assume that Autodesk would respond favorably to threats to shut down its website if we believed that someone was dealing with us maliciously or in bad faith.

Thank you,

Martin M. Konopken
Senior Corporate Counsel
Autodesk, Inc.


Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 15:17:04 -0500 (EST)
From: RTMark admin <admin@rtmark.com>
To: martin.konopken@autodesk.com
Cc: webmaster@the3dstudio.com
Subject: Re: FW: How about this

That e-mail will be posted shortly. Matthew Anderson sent it to us, we just haven't had time to post it. Your e-mail below will be posted as well.

Please clarify if possible:

> I'd like to state for the
> record that we reached agreement with Mr. Anderson because after talking
> with him it was clear that he was acting in good faith and shared our
> interest in reaching a reasonable solution.

Was your first contact with Mr. Anderson Monday, February 7? If so, why wasn't contact made sooner? If you were indeed open to "a reasonable solution," wouldn't the normal thing have been to write to him, rather than wait to be threatened by RTMark?

http://rtmark.com/
Bringing IT to YOU.


Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 13:33:29 -0800
From: martin.konopken@autodesk.com
To: admin@rtmark.com
Subject: RE: FW: How about this

You've asked why we didn't send Mr. Anderson another letter before February 7. I was out of town until the night of February 5, my remote e-mail was not working, and I didn't know he had responded to the earlier letter. I called him Monday when I got into the office. No one was waiting to be threatened. I had instructed our outside attorney, Mr. Hughes, to take no action during the week I was away so that Mr. Anderson would have time to respond. Mr. Anderson's reply would have been responded to on Monday in any event. I realize things move quickly in the internet age, but even these days people leave town for a few days and aren't able to catch up until they return to the office.


Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 17:55:34 -0500 (EST)
From: RTMark admin <admin@rtmark.com>
To: martin.konopken@autodesk.com
Subject: RE: FW: How about this

"You"--actually, the outside firm of Hickman, Stephens, Coleman & Hughes--demanded on Jan. 27 that Mr. Anderson relinquish control of the domain and identity, The3DStudio.com, which he had worked for months to build up. "You" demanded he do this within 15 days.

In the subsequent days Mr. Anderson tells us that he, as well as many users of The3DStudio.com who were immediately made aware of this very frightening situation, wrote "you" (Hickman and Autodesk) many urgent e-mails explaining the situation in detail and begging you to lay off. Apparently neither he nor any of the other writers received the slightest response from anyone at Hickman or Autodesk as the day-count rose towards 15.

When a corporation like Autodesk demands that a person like Mr. Anderson give up within 15 days a big part of what he has worked very hard to build during the last several months, and then the corporation maintains a stony silence as the days creep towards the declared execution date, can you be surprised when it is taken as a declaration of war, to be taken quite seriously and acted upon with immediacy?

I do not think your excuses for not responding ("I was out of town until the night of February 5, my remote e-mail was not working, and I didn't know he had responded to the earlier letter") are valid, given the very intense, aggressive and frightening wording of "your" threat, nor given the fact that there are many, many employees at Autodesk who could have responded--like the one ("The Super-user <rootcsh2@autodesk.com>") who finally did, Saturday, when RTMark came into the picture. Why did that person, whoever he or she is, not respond sooner to earlier pleas?

And why did "your" initial letter demand that Mr. Anderson relinquish the domain and identity, The3DStudio.com, whereas the very conciliatory note from "The Super-user" said the issue was a "3D model on the www.the3dstudio.com web site"--an issue that Mr. Anderson says he took care of the very day it was brought to his attention two months ago?

Why does "The Super-user" refer to "the 3D model," whereas you make it seem like there were a swarm?

"The Super-user" [here]:
>We are favorable to the steps taken by Mr. Anderson (removing the 3D
>model on the www.the3dstudio.com web site which had the ownership
>issues

You [here]:
>We had been bombarded with flame mails accusing
>us of copyright infringement on our website, which
>actually wasn't ours but Mr. Anderson's. Because of
>the name confusion our reputation was being severely
>damaged. Hence the letter from the outside lawyer.

Was it "the 3D model," and were you "favorable to the steps" (taken months before "your" legal threat of January 27)... or were you being "bombarded," still, on January 27, so that your "reputation was being severely damaged"? There seem to be two rather different versions here.

If there was only "the 3D model" and you were "favorable to the steps" (taken months before), as "The Super-user" says, why the threat from Hickman et al?

Is "The Super-user" a lawyer? Or is he or she telling the story from a different point of view, with a different audience in mind? Seeing this as a "story," with "audiences," would explain the different versions, at least.

Please let us know your answers.

RTMark


Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 15:16:37 -0800
From: martin.konopken@autodesk.com
To: admin@rtmark.com
Subject: RE: FW: How about this

We did receive a swarm of e-mail complaints, and, as I explained to Mr. Anderson when he told me the problem had been long-since resolved, the writers apparently were not aware of his subsequent actions. I'm sure you will not dispute that your questions have a polemical tone and I have the sense you are not open to listening to our side of the story. This is your right. We've tried to respond fully and people will have to make up their own minds about the matter. I appreciate your making the space on your site for Autodesk's response. Thanks.


Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 03:36:23 -0500 (EST)
From: RTMark admin <admin@rtmark.com>
To: martin.konopken@autodesk.com
Subject: RE: FW: How about this

You have a "sense" about our "openness," and this is of course not a court of law ("Your Honor, my opponent is being polemical, and I have a sense" wouldn't fly), so you have the right to remain silent and not answer our questions. But needing answers, we have interpreted your response to mean the below; to show whether you agree or disagree, you may simply nod yes or no:

We are not terrible people, we Autodesk folk. We have wives or husbands or even same-sex partners, we have kids, some have pets, some of us own our own homes and want to own bigger homes, we all own a car or two we have to make payments on. We're just your basic American folk, white or black or otherwise colored, living in the U.S.A. and doing what we believe to be right by God and country and wife/husband/lover.

Now in order to feed that wife/husband/lover, and the kids, and make all those payments, we have to make money. So do Autodesk shareholders. Autodesk is a machine to make money for its shareholders, and there's a whole lot of money involved, and fortunately for our pocketbooks, we've been hired by Autodesk to help them out with this mighty big task. It's a win-win situation for us and the Autodesk shareholders.

Now we--here I'm talking as Autodesk, not as me and my friends--have some trademarks. They're very important to us, because they're important to our shareholders. If they get "diluted," we lose money, that's the thinking, and so our stockholders get very angry. (And that's when we--me and my friends--get kinda nervous.)

So when we hear about something that has a name sort of like one of our trademarks, we jump. No matter what it is. We send a letter. We demand things, in a legal kind of way, so it sounds like it's legal. Big things. Not because we're vicious, heartless, ruthless bastards, but because we need to feed the kids and the w./h./l. and so we need to protect the damn trademarks.

Sometimes we demand a lot more than we think we could get if it got really legal and made it to court. We do this because there's a kind of bargaining that happens in court, where your demands and your opponent's demands are sort of evened out. Also, most "little people" who get these letters just really freak out and lose it and maybe start to go crazy, and then they buckle and just give us exactly what we're asking for right away. That's because it's super, super, super expensive to actually fight things all the way through a court case, and everyone knows that, and hardly anyone's willing to risk their life's savings and more--even for years of hard work or whatever it is we're trying to take. (etoy was eventually paid the $40,000 it cost to defend their domain against eToys, but who can front that kind of money? So that's the second reason we threaten as if we were bastards: it's a kind of feint, a fake punch, a jousting little SLAPP.)

So listen, you big ornery not-open terrorists: we're just following the law, just doing as much as the good people of the U.S.A., human and corporate, have said we're allowed to, while we do what we have to, which is making a buck to feed the husband/wife/lover and pay off the car and the house and the kids' education. What's wrong with that?

Is that right, Mr. Konopken? All you have to do is nod or shake your head. Then we will answer that last question there. (Oh, and please specify which head is being shaken/nodded, so we know who our audience is.)

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