My name used to be Amy Alexander.
But today I know that as an individual with little recourse to vast sums of money for lawyers’ fees my name is no longer guaranteed or protected.
I am an artist and a faculty member at California Institute of the Arts. However, today I am speaking for myself, not for calarts.edu, etoy.com, etoys.com, dupont.com, nor for any other .coms, .edus, .nets, or .orgs.
In early 1999 I made a web-based art project in which I parodied massive corporate takeovers by pretending to take over 27 of the world's largest corporations. This was an art project: it was ironic, it was a parody, and it was funny.
But because it mentioned the *names* of corporations my employer and I and were sent notification to cease and desist by the DuPont Company--dupont.com--and I was forced at that time to remove my project from the internet.
In addition, DuPont faxed a stack of papers to my employer, including some which, among other things, seemed to imply that I had made death threats against the public relations director of the Jewish Defense League. This was obviously not the case. My work has never contained any material of a threatening, violent, nor even remotely anti-Semitic nature.
It reminds me of a similar tactic that eToys Corporation appears to be taking, in implying that a group of young European artists promote hacking, pornography and the Oklahoma bombing terrorists.
These tactics of threatening and intimidating artists, who have very limited financial resources, have been used by corporations dozens of times in the past few years, since corporations began to silence the work of artists on the web.
Corporations such as Mattel, American express, and 7-11 have successfully removed the work of internationally known and respected artists from the web.
But in this case, I think it’s even more outrageous: Etoy the art group did not appropriate the name of Etoys corporation. Etoy the art group had the name first. And this name is being taken away from them.... and etoy is forced to pay lawyer’s fees that it can not afford.
So, we’re here as artists and individuals to say this is not fair, this is not democratic; what this is, is theft.
This is a cheap shot made by a wealthy corporation to silence individuals who have a right to speak and to express themselves...
These individuals, these artists, are being silenced because the corporations have more money for lawyers than individuals do.
Corporations do not have the right to censor individuals, and so, we’re here today to make sure that this doesn't happen. It’s a big Internet; there’s enough room for everyone - not just for whomever has the most lawyers.
Thanks--from the artist formerly known as Amy.