Jonathan Prince on Fri, 16 Nov 2001 21:53:32 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> DMCA's

here's an article on the situation

and here's the press release

November 15, 2001

As it meets in Qatar, WTO attempts to shut down critical website;
group counters with site-stealing software

Contacts:  Jonathan Prince (
Jean-Guy Carrier (
Verio (
The Yes Men (

Last Friday, Jonathan Prince, who owns the domain, received a
call from Verio,'s upstream provider. The World Trade
Organization had just asked Verio to shut down the domain for copyright
violations, and Verio told Prince that it would do just that if nothing
was changed by November 13--the last day of the Doha Ministerial, as it
would happen. An official email followed (

(Last-minute update: Verio's shutdown is currently expected sometime after
noon EST today--watch software sites above for updates.)

"It's the war," says Prince. "Bush has popularized zero-tolerance, and
it's open season on dissent of any kind. So just when they're meeting in
Doha, the WTO has decided to divert attention from its problems by
attacking a website."

"Or maybe they really do want to make it so that protest has as little
place on the web as it does in Qatar," adds Prince.

Oddly enough, the WTO has been aware of the parody website since before
the 1999 Ministerial in Seattle, when it issued a public statement
claiming the site misled visitors

Two weeks ago, the WTO issued another release
(, this one
claiming that was harvesting e-mails, an allegation reprinted as
fact in some newspaper articles (

While it may be puzzling why the WTO chose to issue a second press release
about two years later, it is even more surprising that they are
now taking concrete steps to stop the critical site. In statements made
just last week to the French daily newspaper Liberation and to others, WTO
spokesperson Jean-Guy Carrier stated that "It's not our job to use legal
means against people. We appreciate dissidence and honest criticism."

Why the sudden change of attitude?

"They got nervous, it's only human," said Elaine Peabody, a spokesperson
for The Yes Men (, the group that maintains the website.  "The WTO remembers what happened the last time they had
one of these meetings [in Seattle].  They felt like tackling something
they knew they could handle--and a satirical website fit the bill."


But the WTO could well have stepped on a hornets' nest.  To counter the
attack, the Yes Men have are releasing today a piece of open-source
"parodyware" ( that will "forever make this
kind of censorship obsolete," according to Peabody.

"Using this software, it takes five minutes to set up a convincing,
personalized, evolving parody of the website, or any other website
of your choice," said Peabody, who helped to develop the program. "All you
need is a place to put it--say,,, whatever."

The software, called "Yes I Will!", automatically duplicates websites as
needed, changing words and images as the user desires--with results that
can be very telling. The WTO site can be made to speak of "consumers" and
"companies" rather than "citizens" and "countries." Unleashed on the website, the software can simplify the reporting even further by
referring to Bush as "Leader," and the war in Afghanistan as one between
"Good" and "Evil"; a article linked from the site then discusses
"The Poor Way of War". The parody site updates itself automatically as the
target website changes.

"The idea is to insure that even if they shut down our website, hundreds
of others will continue our work of translation," said Peabody. "The more
they try to fight it, the funnier they're going to look."

"Such heavy-handed tactics work as poorly in cyberspace as they do on the
geopolitical stage," said Cooper Kharms, another Yes Man. "At least was transparent: you could tell what it was by reading a line or
two. These other sites may not be so obvious."

Prince thinks the software, while interesting, is not a solution. "With
their attack on, an unelected, unaccountable organization is
running roughshod over the USA Bill of Rights," said Prince. "But every
day they violate people's rights in the Third World, or enable
corporations to do so. This time it's just closer to home."

For more on the legal basis of the WTO's attack, see also

RTMark's primary goal is to publicize corporate subversion of the
democratic process. To this end it acts as a clearinghouse for
anti-corporate projects.

# 30 # -- 

.. Jonathan Prince

meta photo blog

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: