In late 1999, Internet toy giant eToys attempted to buy etoy.com from European art group
etoy, and offered upwards of $500,000 in cash and stock options for
the domain. etoy turned down the offer, so on November 29, 1999, eToys
obtained a court injunction preventing etoy from operating a website at
www.etoy.com, which had been registered before eToys even existed. To
obtain the injunction eToys told the judge that etoy.com was confusing
customers, and furthermore that it contained pornography and calls to
violence. etoy.com had never made any reference to eToys or toys, and only an extremely primitive conception of art could lead one to see pornography or violence on its pages.
In response to eToys' greedy and unethical (but entirely typical) conduct,
a team of toy designers invented the etoy Fund online game, whose avowed aim was to destroy eToys, Inc. and whose realistic intent was to make
eToys' stock value go as far down in value as possible. (For more about this intent, please see this article by Reinhold Grether, one of the principal toy designers.)
The game's blurb read: "On your team, thousands of players. Your opponents:
eToys and its shareholders--as long as they still own shares. The stakes: art, free expression and life on the Internet."
Success in lowering eToys' stock value, it was decided, would set a permanent precedent, like the Brent Spar, that would force e-commerce companies in the future to think twice about censorship for financial profit. As an ®TMark spokesperson said on December 12, when the game was released, "eToys says etoy.com was hurting sales by disturbing those who stumble upon it. Well, eToys'
domain is disturbing people who want to see great Internet art but stumble upon eToys instead, and so why not say eToys
shouldn't exist? Why should financial might make right? If they want to play by barbaric rules, we will too."
The etoy Fund's fast and furious action and thrilling multi-user
gameplay set thousands of users' hearts pounding as they helped to lower
the value of eToys stock considerably,
using many methods (but none causing physical harm... to humans). The pages in this section helped the game-players
with their quest for success: there were pages with extensive financial,
physical, and human information about eToys, links to other resources, a press archive, a roster of similar cases, and much, much more.
Some of these pages are still active, most notably the roster of similar cases. Remember that etoy's triumph is only one small victory, and only in the virtual realm. Most people who fall victim to big corporations never see their way out, are never written about in the press, and end up losing whatever their tormentors wished to take. Until some egregious laws are rescinded, and perhaps a few others passed, there will continue to be many victims.