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Censorship Your Rights Online

Etoy: It's Not Over Yet 200

Posted by jamie
from the top-of-the-ninth dept.
Yesterday, while the management of eToys was faxing, calling, and emailing the media to get its story out, its legal team had sent a very different message. You probably saw our pointer to the Wired story which claimed the toy company had "given up." No such luck. The story behind the scenes was a little different. Click for more.

It's one thing to drop a lawsuit. It's another to "move away" from it. According to Chris Truax, the lawyer for the Etoy art group, which version the media heard depended on what time they were in touch with the eToys management. The initial version, he claims, was that eToys was dropping the suit. A later version was that they were "backing away" from the suit. A third version reassured the press that a precondition specified in the legal document was never intended to be a demand - only a request.

To see how the coverage changed throughout Wednesday, see the first Wired story, then the NYT/CNET story, the Yahoo/TheStandard story, and then the second Wired story.

The problem was that eToys.legal was not working from the same playbook as eToys.PR. The precondition, clearly a showstopper, also calls into question whether the giant toy firm has a clue about what is really at stake.

That precondition was:

"to give good faith consideration, as our neighbor on the Internet, to concentrating the profanity, nudity and violence that is sometimes part of the etoy corporation message on etoy corporation's other websites."

Asking artists to censor their work, of course, flies like a lead wheelbarrow. At the same time the company spokesman was saying "our intent was never to silence free artistic expression," their legal team was doing precisely that. The entire short letter in which this request was made was focused on finding a resolution to the perceived problem of "profanity, nudity, and violence," and concluded by noting that co-existence was possible if "etoy corporation will respond favorably to this proposal."

The later Wired story quotes eToys management as putting this spin on it:

"This is a simple, straightforward, good-faith effort on our part to resolve this matter. We are asking that they make good-faith efforts to put some of the material that kids and parents might find offensive on another part of the site."

They can repeat the words "good faith" all they like, but that doesn't make this any less censorship. Imagine operating as an artist, knowing that for the rest of your tenure with the Etoy art group you must work very carefully not to put material inappropriate for children too close to your homepage. One use of the F-word already led to this lawsuit; how hair-trigger would the lawyers be the second time around? You'd want to tone down your message, lest you be accused of working in "bad faith."

But maybe this letter was just badly worded; perhaps there was a miscommunication somewhere between the PR and the legal departments.

Or, maybe this whole episode was a cynical attempt to calm down the activist community and get the story out of the public eye.

Think about what eToys is really saying. They have cost the art group a fair amount of money in legal bills and have shut down their website for (to date) a month. Now they say they want to walk away as long as Etoy does the same.

If someone came onto your property, stole your computer - and then a month later, after you'd spent thousands of dollars trying to get it back, offered to return it on the condition that you promised not to sue - would you be inclined to accept that condition?

How would you feel if they asked you to make a "good-faith effort" not to use your computer to write any "profanity"?

Chris Truax stopped short of saying whether Etoy would or would not continue their defensive countersuit if eToys' original suit were dropped, saying only "if the suit is dropped unilaterally, that's a very positive step." In my talks with him, he has seemed committed to finding a way to settle this matter without resorting to a knock-down, drag-out court battle, and he has said he'd like to help eToys management to educate themselves about being good netizens.

But he also pointed out several times that "the devil is in the details." And, of course, he's right. This whole mess won't be over until it's over.

It's a shame that the courts are still seeing issues like these at the end of 1999; those in positions of power should have learned about being good netizens by now. Etoy's story isn't all that unusual. While the art group has been under fire, there have been simultaneous attacks on the scholarly arts organization Leonardo and a computer club which happens to share the same initials as the BBC. Stay tuned.

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Etoy: It's Not Over Yet

Comments Filter:
  • by SEWilco (27983) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @07:54AM (#1432039) Journal
    That web site had a lady's ankle visible! Horrors!
  • by SLOfuse (68448) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @07:57AM (#1432040)
    Even if etoy.com was a hard core porn site, etoys should have no moral or legal rights to do what they did. etoy.com is not bound by US laws. At most, US authorities might someday take it upon themselves selectively ban "incoming" material thru filtering techniques etc (which in itself would be a horrendous state of affairs), but there is no justification for suspending registration of the etoy.com domain. THEY HAVE NO FUCKING JURISDICTION. (Now slashdot will have to shut down for offensive language.)
  • I ahve and idea.... why dont WE all sue Etyos with supid things like "not allowing access to the site for blind and deaf people" or "the animations on their site gave me a seizure" or "I did'nt get my package on time and it ruined my life" (the last of which I am sure we can find someone who did'nt get their package on time this christmas)
  • by scumdamn (82357) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @08:00AM (#1432042)
    Etoy is in a position of strength. eToys' trademark application was overturned, Etoy was there first, eToys is backing down, it's time to fight the hell out of this in many ways. This should go to court, and eToys will almost definitely lose. Then Etoy could proceed with their lawsuit and have eToys by the short hairs. Imagine the dive Etoys' stock would take then. Etoy needs to fight this one to the extent possible. Many good things could come of it. Other corporations may reconsider bullying the little guys, a precedent just might be set, and Etoys would learn that they can't throw their little weight.com around just becaused they've IPO'd.
  • IANNBAL (I am nowhere near being a lawyer),
    but it strikes me that etoy has a helluva counter-suit if they wish to do so. If any of them
    make any income from etoy.com, it's at least
    deprivation of livelihood.
  • How many times is a big corperation (the #3 holiday toy seller) true to its word? Very rarely...

    Of course eToys will continue to attack eToy. The reasoning behind that statement is simple - The Calendar. eToys, does not want eToy active during the Holiday season because newbies on the internet may acidentally go there... So they will try and shut it down once and for all rather than just knock it out during every big sale period.

    Am I missing something?
  • Things like this will just keep popping up if we don't make an example of eToys. We need to raise such a big stink that the media picks up on it and eToys gets bad publicity. If they start loosing customers left and right they will listen, believe me. The unofficial rules of the net are made by us users as a whole.

    It is not enough that they drop the lawsuit. They have gotten what they wanted, to have etoy.com down for the xmas season. Next year they'll find some other excuse.
  • This "cyber-squatting" crap needs to end. A general mentality of "oh, that's another domain, check the spelling" needs to be instated, since pressing legal violation over domain names is outrageous. I really believe someone has to pass this message over to the corporations, and AFAIK the only directly effective method is through the government.
  • The arrogance and stupidity of EToys just makes me furious. One thing is for sure, I will never buy anything from them, and I will make sure everyone I know, and who respects what I think, will be told why they shouldn't either.

    That they talk about material inapropriate for children is just bullshit, a naked attempt to try to appear the good guy. No doubt EToys has some oily PR people who came up with that one. I dearly hope their tactic doesn't work. I expect they'll next try to get the "Family Values" folks on their side for the upcomming PR battle.

    It may be a pipe dream, but I hope that enough folks in the public get furious enough over this that EToys is shamed out of business.

  • Or, better yet does the right arm care what the left one is doing? I honestly do not think that the management of EToys has any idea of what being a good netizen means. And that is why it is very important that their actions are discussed in open forms (i.e. /.) and that their actions against EToy stay visible in the news.

    The complaints from Etoy may be easy enough to ignore, but the roar of the crowd of the community is much more difficult to turn a deaf ear to.

    all persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental. - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The root of this whole mess are the facts that EToys has money, NSI has control over DNS, and the US justice system has more than its reasonable share of ignorant jurisdiction over the Internet. It's a fact that if Etoy's and EToys' positions were reversed, that EToys' domain name would not have been impounded. This needs to be publicized outside of regular Internet news outlets to inform the public of yet another area of activity where money and influence yields undeserved/unnecessary/unethical power.
  • by bons (119581) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @08:08AM (#1432051) Homepage Journal
    What remains of ETOY [146.228.204.72]
    Protest.net's overview of this mess [protest.net]
    RTMarks's etoy page [rtmark.com]
    ETOYS stock value [altavista.com] in the past month accoring to Alta Vista
    A better stock picture [yahoo.com] from yahoo.

    At this rate, ETOYS will be worthless soon enough. How low does it have to fall before it simply ceases to exist in it's current form? In this age of internet stocks being so highly valued how can ETOYS not realize the damage this has caused them? How can they be so blind?

    Perhaps they have forgotten that we talk to each other. Perhaps they have forgotten that we can hear all sides of the stories. perhaps they have forgotten that we could have been their market and their investors had they not done this.

    Perhaps they're just blind.

  • I'd ask if anyone was surprised at this, but judging from the posts yesterday, ("Oh yay, EToys has changed their mind, they're good guys again") I guess the answer is yes.

    EToys never claimed to be dropping the suit--only "backing off," which means, precisely, whatever they want it to. Trying to censor in good faith is apparently what they meant by backing off.

    If this is ever resolved satisfactorily, I urge everyone who has been boycotting EToys to _continue_ the boycott. They deserve (and have from the beginning) punitive measures brought against them for the damage they've done to the etoy group.

  • Yea, sue them for 100 mill and give the money to EFF or somesuch. Then EFF could go around kicking corp butt every time they step on us. Geeks need a strong advocacy group! >:)
  • by reptilian (75755) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @08:09AM (#1432054)
    The US didn't shut down the site, NSI did. They *do* have jurisdiction, as they're the ones that handle domain names. They didn't shut down the site completely, just supended the domain name. I'm not sure of the legal implications of this - it's an american company, under US jurisdiction, so I would assume that the US courts *do* have jurisdiction over .com/net/org TLDs, regardless of the geographical location of the site. If I were them, and I ever got the name back, I'd switch to a provider in another country ASAP.

    Man's unique agony as a species consists in his perpetual conflict between the desire to stand out and the need to blend in.

  • LO!
    This is the funniest SUBJECT line I've seen for a long time, never mind the message content.

    Oh, this is gonna make the laugh for a looong time. It's so Zippy.

    Ankles!

    :)
    Man, I need to take some time off.


    Pope
  • Not only does etoys have no right to shut down etoy because it is outside of US control, but etoy.com was registered before etoys was even thought of!
    =======
    There was never a genius without a tincture of madness.
  • by Trifthen (40989)
    It really is unfortunate that things went in this direction. We all know that Etoy was there first, and the case should be very clear; things don't always work out the way you expect them.

    How so?

    I'd imagine that the claims of conspiracy (the Xmas fiasco) have quite a bit of merit, but somehow I predict that this will ring the same responses. Who's to say that EToys didn't *say* they were backing off to fix their public image, all while their legal department had a field day with Etoy. It is a possibility.

    Since this is an old issue, isn't there something we can do about it? Contacting Etoys with nice well-thought-out responses would always be nice, but I mean a more "fit to print" solution. We're a pretty big community, but the fact of the matter is that we're a specific group that is no target. But we do have access to other people. Why not have our own publicity campaign that actually releases the facts of this case, and tell as many friends as we can about what is going on.

    Our power will be completely wasted if we don't use it to hit them where it counts, and why they started this whole thing: In their pocketbook. The proposed boycott isn't enough if it's only us... we need more. This is enough indication that at least their legal department just doesn't get it.

    So make them.
  • by netpuppy (77874) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @08:15AM (#1432058) Homepage
    How about a countersuit claiming product recognition problems and trademark dilution? If the domain name was there first, and the trademark status favors etoy, they should just go for the jugular and bring down etoys.com altogether.

  • Don't pretend that every side has been heard in full. Even on Slashdot. That's not to say there's editorial bias here - I don't believe there is - but, rather, that there's a limited amount of space and an unlimited number of opinions amongst the different sides. Something clearly won't fit.

    IF eToys argument is "hey, do what you like, but can you keep the stuff that's age-inappropriate off the public pages", then I don't see the problem. Anyone capable of setting up a web page is more than capable of setting up an .htaccess file, and anyone capable of thought is capable of deciding if something is "age-inappropriate".

    That's not censorship, as it doesn't tell anyone what they can do or say, it merely says "uh - can everyone agree to be mature about this?" I don't see anything the matter with that. It doesn't hurt to use your noggin.

    But that's a BIG "if", and the implication of the article was that their legal department didn't necessarily think the same way.

    If the eToys argument is that "you show what we say, and nothing more", then they deserve to be forced to eat Haggis, Black Pudding and mushy peas, with HP sauce. On National Television. Without throwing up. Even after being told what goes in them.

    I don't agree with censorship, but I don't have any problem with two web sites trying to find some kind of common ground so that they can talk this over like human beings.

  • by Deluge (94014) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @08:16AM (#1432060)
    Off ZDNet (but of course)

    ETOYS DROPS SUIT AGAINST ARTISTS. Public outcry led toy site to abandon action against artists using eToy.com.

    Uh huh... "dropped" the lawsuit eh? Ya don't say. I wonder how much this "ad space" cost Etoys? :)

    ---

  • Ok, I just registered slashdots.org, where I'm going to sell kitty litter. Please limit all further discussions on this site to kitty litter...

    http://billy.j.mabray/
  • Demand a retraction.
  • I thought that Kb and Toys R Us were bigger than that and a hell of a lot more.
  • Sorry about the last empty message. I've pressed the enter buttons twice too many.

    Although I think that it's only my dream, is there a way for etoy to stop etoys using their domain name? Etoys the (evil ;) company basically have nothing other than their brand name, i.e., "www.etoys.com". They haven't made any profit yet. They don't have much asset. If they lose this domain, basically, their business is more or less over (and gone with their overpriced stock). I know. Although they also own "www.toys.com", I doubt that it is as famous as the other one.

    Do they have something vulnerable behind all those bluffings and posturing?
  • OK, suppose US courts do have jurisdiction over NSI. Does NSI have an AUP that controls the content of websites with .com, .net, .org TLD's? I don't think so. There are an awful lot of porn .com sites out there that are not being shut down.
    EVEN if etoy WAS a porn site (which it is not), it should not have been suspended. Etoys the toy company, effectively had it "shut down" and wants it to change or stay shut down FOR THAT REASON.
    (Of course that is they're "stated" reason.) Point is, they should not have that right because NO ONE ELSE has that right! (Regardless of ones opinions on porn.) [and the trademark thing is just plain stupid-there's no confusion of products.]
  • I'm not sure how many other people follow this show, but Michael Moore (of 'Roger and Me', 'The Big One', and 'TV Nation') has a show that's been running for a season now called The Awful Truth, where he goes after assorted cases of corporations sticking it to the little guy. I emailed him through the website for the show (http://www.theawfultruth.com), and received this response:

    >Thanks so much for writing about the etoy.com >story. Michael Moore greatly appreciates your >support and forwarded your letter on to me to >respond to. He thanks you for bringing this >story to his attention and has asked that the >subject be researched further.

    >Mr. Moore showed a great interest in this story >and asked me to keep it on file for possible show >segment topic. He is currently extremely busy >with pre-production for the second season of "The >Awful Truth," however he wanted me to convey his >best wishes.

    Looks like a form letter, but if he gets enough interest in the story, he might be more interested in doing it, and it could get us some more of the right kind of coverage.
  • #include <snowball_effect.h>
    #include <std_disclaimer.h>

    In consideration to their stock, if this keeps up, eToys could be hit by a class-action lawsuit from shareholders.

    In the U.S. you can sue a company's management if they keep making decisions that run counter to sound business judgment--and in this case, it's pretty clear eToys management is acting out of personal motives rather than from any real judgment.

    Under U.S. law shareholders can lead a class-action lawsuit against management that willfully and stupidly loses their money--and that's what we've got here. Pretty soon it's going to be necessary to decide whether to join that suit, or to keep losing money...

    IMHO, they should drop this while they're still able.
    --
  • I have been to a few sites that basically have similar urls to a major company (plus or minus a few letters) and they have a little message saying that basically "are you looking for blah.com? well go there) and such with a link in bold. Then all you have to do is to have another large link that allows for the people who really wanted to go to etoy or whatever to go there if they want with just one more click. This would have solved the problem without the need for lost revenue. I don't know about you people but after the first few days of no utilities and no food in a cold dark house I would be looking at any solution.
  • This is why I keep pushing for the elimination of .com/org/net TLDs. Everything should go to geographical domains. Then we could make something resonable out of the trademark vs domain name conflicts. If you have the trademark in region X, then you can lay claim to the domain name; otherwise, don't bring any frivolous lawsuits into my courtroom. What's more, this would obey the decentralized spirit that was originally designed into the DNS system. The US would no longer have exclusive control over the damn thing. Put the top level servers under UN control (it's about time that organization did something useful anyway), then every country could handle allocation of domains in whatever way suits them.
  • Nuff said.

    A company sees its stock dropping, hate mail pours in, and threats of DoS attacks on thier networks are looming over thier heads.

    Why not try to weasel yourself out of a situation?

    They're just like children. You punish them, but when you're not around, they do the same thing all over again.

    The next step? Punish them again. They learn eventually.
  • Now, If someone told you that in 1997, Etoys bought every domain name they could muster with the letter E and the phrase "toy" or "toys", would it surprise you? No, perhaps not - It seems like a reasonably self-preserving business practice. However, If you knew you owned the domain E-toy.com and made efforts to shut down Etoy.com, Would it seem unreasonable for you to gain traffic to your own site by visitors mistyping E-toy instead of Etoy?

    Making gains off of another group's losses (that you created) seems incredibly unreasonable and dishonest to me. Perhaps we ought to encourage some kind of countersuit falling along these lines... Even with no chance to beat the financial backbone of Etoys' legal team, it would at least get the press riled up and put the spotlight on Etoys... :>
  • As someone else has already said (in this post, even) this has nothing to do with US jurisdiction. The courts didn't force the closure of www.etoy.com. eToys called up NSI, complained, and NSI brought down the site. They have every right, since they are the ones who registered www.etoy.com, but it is a horrible, tacky, spineless, etc. thing to do. NSI != USA

    etoy.com *was* registered before etoys.com, but the original basis of the lawsuit is that eToys bought the (since invalidated) TM from a company that registered said TM in 1990. In eToys' twisted reality, this was reason enough to pursue these actions. Thankfully, the courts are beginning to see just how silly this case is... so far.

    God, I hate playing devil's advocate...ick!

    BTW, the judge's reason for invalidation of the TM is just great: adding e to the front of a common word is not grounds for a TM. I hope this sets a good precedent to thwart all the other evil-minded companies out there!

    Eric
  • So basically just pick another domain registering company and get etoy up again. If the NSI wants to be vile about it then just go somewhere else. Exactly where is etoy operating from anyway?
  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomaiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday December 30, 1999 @08:33AM (#1432075) Homepage

    eToys apparently still doesn't get it. Internet was never meant to be a shopping mall. Yes, commerce can succeed in this medium, but that does not neccesarily make this a shopping mall.

    Internet is a neighborhood. This means that there's a great variety of resources here. Sure, there's stores, and some of them make a lot of money. There are also gathering places, theatres (some of them pretty bleeding-edge, like etoy), workshops, and homes. This neighborhood has been here, and has grown, long before eToys ever came on the scene. Now, eToys is saying, "We want this neighborhood to become a shopping mall." And they'll tear down the whole damn neighborhood to do it.

    Ultimately what these companies want is not a bazaar, not a whole new world, not a new medium of communication; but a virtual suburb. Where everything is clean (or else), there are no angry people, no controversial opinions or expressions, and everyone is free, so long as what they want to do is make money. A virtual suburb that is safe for sheltered suburban children raised in good Mayburyish homes, where they can learn that Internet is safe, inoffensive, secure, protected. A virtual suburb where you don't find anything that might even vaguely disturb you. Where the music is soothing, the pictures are pretty, and you can make your dreams come true by entering your credit card number and expiration date. Don't worry, that information, along with all your other information, won't be handed off to anyone who might hurt you (just to other people who want to sell to you).

    There's just one problem. Even if they get their way, it's all pure bullshit. Internet is not secure, will never be secure. Real life is full of controversey, different ideas, and shocking truths. If they get shoved off of Internet, they'll just move to another network, albeit perhaps a more exclusive one (think back to the BBS days). Moreover, the information you hand out is not safe. The difference is, today, if it's not safe, you'll find out quickly. Tomorrow, if it's not safe, you may never find out. Not unless you're on one of those BBS'es. Or unless it's already too late.

    It doesn't have to turn out this way. We can win this fight. We're smart enough; together, we're rich enough; and we have enough to lose to keep us motivated in this fight.

    As a note, I noticed today that eToys stock is at a 52-week low. Maybe it's time eToys figured out a new strategy?

  • Just when you thought that flame wars on slashdot got out of hand...

    " Do you want [yahoo.com] your children to look for etoys and somehow accidentally land on etoy.com which material not appropriate for children (profanity, nudity, graphic nature, adult content)??? Etoys even offered a generous offer of ($400,00-1mil) to etoy to change their name because it won't be very logical to change etoys.com because it is actually selling children's toys!!! So Etoys.com launched a law suit against etoy.com on behalf of the numerous complaints from angry parents. Hell, I would be angry too if my kids ask me what the hell is on the art site...and it has nothing to do with the toy. I hope the boycotters can explain theie positions on the issue to me, as I support etoys 100% in their cause. "

    It's like a red rag to a bull... :-)

    But seriously, if you read the posts on the trading boards, you do start to realise that a lot of the people who are supporting (not particularly well at present) the value of companies such as etoys really don't have a clue about what is going on with the situation at all.

    So remember be polite [yahoo.com]...

  • No-one sues anyone.
    EToys gives Etoy an apology and a large sum of money.
    In return, Etoy puts a prominent link to Etoys on their homepage, away from any "I-led-far-too-sheltered-a-life" material.
    Everybody gets on with their lives.

    After all, nothing compromises artistic integrity like a huge wad of cash...
  • I just would like to wonder why anyone actually bother with toys anyway? If you are involved with computers you most likely are not playing with that new Pikachu action figure instead of writing that new device driver for that video card you boss wants anyway.
  • IF eToys argument is "hey, do what you like, but can you keep the stuff that's age-inappropriate off the
    public pages", then I don't see the problem. Anyone capable of setting up a web page is more than capable
    of setting up an .htaccess file, and anyone capable of thought is capable of deciding if something is
    "age-inappropriate".


    The "problem" is that etoys has NO RIGHT to ask such a thing just because they are offended (or think one of their costomers might be.) If they were *really* concerned about this, they would have researched the domain name they chose and would have seen the potential problem and PICKED A DIFFERENT domain name. But they don't really care. Some one thought "E-Toys - what a neat name. We'll make a killing off of that name and all the money it brings in from all those families with the little brats." And you thought they were in this for the benifit of the kids???
  • IF eToys argument is "hey, do what you like, but can you keep the stuff that's age-inappropriate off the public pages", then I don't see the problem. Anyone capable of setting up a web page is more than capable of setting up an .htaccess file, and anyone capable of thought is capable of deciding if something is "age-inappropriate".

    Forgive me for sounding like a flamer, but I must point out that your position is naive, at best. Not because you feel that anyone capable of thought can decide the appropriateness of the material in question, but in feeling that we would all agree with each other in said decision. The very heart of censorship arguments base themselves on one side claiming that certain material is "inapproriate" when such decisions are, by definition, subjective in nature. Agreement would be hard to arrive at, resulting in these conflicts. Incidentally, I challenge your assertion that setting up an .htaccess file is so easy that anyone capable of creating a web page can do it. I've taught HTML classes to people; they can create a web page, but aren't really sure what a web server is.

  • IF eToys argument is "hey, do what you like, but can you keep the stuff that's age-inappropriate off the public pages", then I don't see the problem. Anyone capable of setting up a web page is more than capable of setting up an .htaccess file, and anyone capable of thought is capable of deciding if something is "age-inappropriate".

    The problem is that what's "age-inappropriate" isn't a simple decision. The US is very prissy about nudity. Europe isn't. Things which are totally accepted in Europe (Such as nude beaches, or nudity on television) are not accepted in the US. Go to a mediterrian resourt beach, and you will see topless women. Walk along the beach, and you'll probably end up in the nude section, and see naked people.

    Look at movies certifications around the world, and you will find very wide variations between difference countries. A single film can be considered acceptable for 7 year olds in France, but not acceptable for 17 year olds in the US.

  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomaiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday December 30, 1999 @08:41AM (#1432082) Homepage

    Speaking frankly, and keep in mind I'm not a securities trader or a financial analyst or a lawyer or whatever...for a long time, eToys was worth more than Mattel and Hasbro combined. That's the two largest toy makers in the US. As of today, eToys is worth less than either Mattel or Hasbro, even if only by a little. This makes more sense. eToys's income is far, far less than that of either company, and eToys is less established. If you ask me, this is probably just a correction, and a much-needed one.

    It's true that their stock is almost at a 52-week low. But this doesn't necessarily mean that they're mishandling the business. I would be very surprised if investors started suing them over this.

  • Etoys has anatomically correct dolls [etoys.com]! What are they teaching our children!
  • There is neither a legal nor moral obligation to point someone to a similar sight, because they are confused. It is a nice thing to do, and some sights chose to voluntarilly do so. I'm sure, had etoys.com politely made such a request to etoy.com, rather than resort to judicial thuggary, the artists at Etoy would have at least given the request consideration.

    However, now that etoys.com have done what they've done, I suspect there will be an ice age in hell before any such link is created, and that is as it should be. We should continue the boycott, and do everything (legal) in our power to put those pricks out of business for good.
  • by netpuppy (77874) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @08:42AM (#1432085) Homepage
    "I don't agree with censorship, but I don't have any problem with two web sites trying to find some kind of common ground so that they can talk this over like human beings."

    Talking things over like human beings doesn't include suing for and recieving an injunction against someone's livelihood, shutting them down, going so far as to remove their email access, and then sending a preliminary olive branch after your biggest retail season is over. I don't think etoys should be treated with any respect at this point, nor should they be able to mandate any terms of surrender. If justice were to be served, they would be shut down themselves for a month, just to even the score.



  • Why not just re-register etoy.com with a competing DNS registration service?
  • To get to the point the results of this case are landmark - and we shall probably see the end of etoys.com because of it eventually anyways.

    As a culture we see that lay people are upset when hearing this because it violates freedom of speech. Not someones oddball interpretation of the first amendment but people are starting to truly want to be informed not only because they can be but because they want to be.

    People everywhere are seeing internet companies as (from time to time) just that - nothing more and nothing less. If company A sues company B about an issue of "morality" -- and questionable at that then they have no "morality" themselves. Corporations aren't evil - just some of them have evil people (tm).

    Watching the etoys stock as a whole - it reflects that bad press because of a stupid issue also reflect what a public company is all about. The fact here is that they did not do what the public wanted, but what they wanted... so the public hammered them (badly).

    Etoy will end up countersuing them and possibly even the court that granted the injunction siting that there is no legislation that allows for this type of legal action to actually take place. Regardless this will be a big win for freedom of speech and also a big win for any artist...

    If art is about making a stand for what you believe then these artists are being true martyrs - and nobody (except etoys) can possibly loose this battle.

  • You're kidding, right?

    • Legos
    • Star Wars Toys
    • More Legos
    • Anything bright and shiny
    • Those other Legos I forgot to buy

  • They have enough control to "hold" the domain name so that none of the other registrars can issue it. From one of the previous Wired articles [wired.com]:

    Network Solutions spokeswoman Sheryl Regan said the domain name registrar routinely shuts down contested domain names when court orders are issued.

    "We put a domain name on hold so no one has access to it," Regan said.


    And NSI is the incumbent registrar, which brings with it many advantages...
  • If I operate a convent bestiality porn site or I operate a site for Barney and his little friends makes no difference. If you give money to someone for a service then you are obgligated by law to give them that service or give a total refund. If a person is refused from being able to get a service that is open to others and the others are not under similar restrictions then you are in fact descriminating against them and that is also against the law and you can file a suit. I would also be suing NSI for their predatory and descriminatory actions.
  • by Frank Sullivan (2391) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @08:46AM (#1432094) Homepage
    And when i wrote my protest mail to eToys.com, that's exactly what i told them... i am a parent of five year old twins, our family is well within the top 10% income bracket, and we regularly purchase goods online. And if they want a share of the hundreds of dollars a year i spend on toys, they need to drop their complaints against etoy.

    Which reminds me... i should send them another letter telling them that i won't be satisfied until they have unilaterally and unconditionally dropped everything against etoy.
    ---
    120
    chars is barely sufficient
  • The etoys site is claiming that Etoys is a registered trademark. Wasn't it overturned? Shouldn't NSI resurrect the etoy site because there are no longer any trademark issues?

    BTW Is there an etoy legal fund?

  • You're right that they should have done a bit of research, first. That was stupid of them.

    However, they =DO= have every right to ask. The First Ammendment grants every man and woman (but not children, sadly) the absolute right to say or ask what they like, without interference. Whether you agree with the First Ammendment or not is irrelevent. It's there, so eToys has absolute right to whatever free speech they choose.

    They even have the right to expect eToy to comply. Expectations are in the mind, and there is no law against thinking what you like.

    What they =DON'T= have the right to do is to make people go along with those expectations. THAT is where their rights end and those of the other person begin. Your rights end where I begin.

    There is NOTHING illegal or immoral for eToys to go over to another company and say "hey, we can be mature about this, how about we work something out here." I'd call that bloody sensible, if you ask me! It's about time someone asked, rather than demanded at gunpoint or lawsuit-point. This =IS= the twentieth-century AD, and we ARE supposed to be more peaceful, civilised and enlightened than, say, Genghis Khan's mongul hordes.

    On the other hand, there's NOTHING civilised about threats or intimidation to make another person think (or pretend to think) the same as yourself, out of sheer terror.

  • Why not? Slashdot the bloody legal system, raise cain in the courtroom. Do Flynn on them. Make strawman cases... in general... just overload the system to such an extend it can no longer function. Brought down by it's own excesses... I love it. :)
  • by LeviLevi (114307) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @08:49AM (#1432101)

    Please don't take this personally, but I believe it is exactly the kind of attitude potrayed in this post that allows the erosion of democracy and freedom to occur around events like this eToys vs. etoy business.

    Of course /. has editorial bias. /. is, in theory, run by humans. Humans have biases. /. puts a lot of effort into and does a very good job at keeping editorial bias to a minimum. I believe that's why it has the level of community participation it does.

    Why is it that we "don't hear all sides of the story" when (American) business or financial interests are threatened? Do you think we've heard "all sides of the story" surrounding the probable intentional bombing of of the Chinese embassy during the Kosovo conflict? Have we heard all sides of the story regarding the brutal police suppression of non-violent activists in Seattle recently? (Yes, I realize that there were some violent protestors as well. But also keep in mind that there are many eyewitness accounts of 'plant' activity. i.e. people purposefully trying to agitate the crowd and handcuffing them with plastic handcuffs when they join in.)

    It seems that when the equity income of pampered knowledge workers is in question, we "haven't heard all sides of the story". When we have undisputed facts regarding an attack on democracy and freedom, it's irrelevant.

    There are a couple of undisputed facts here:

    1. etoy was here first
    2. eToys extremely arrogant legal behavior toward etoy.

    Even assuming that eToy's argument is what you claim it is, do you honestly believe they have the right to that argument? I certainly don't. It would be an extremely slippery slope to allow corporation to police network content around their "domain neighborhoods".

    I also think we should be extremely wary of your assumption that "age-appropriateness" is a good thing. It has been proven time and again in other mediums that conrtols on information for the perceived benefit of the "innocent" are no subsitute for a supportive community. Look at the populatiry of (shudder) Christianity. To beg "the system" for controls on information to protect our progeny is shrugging off parental responsibility to an outside agency. We should be addressing the problems and concerns that are preventing parents from developing supportive communities in their homes (i.e. insane work hours, the engineering of materialistic market-mania in youth (Pokemon, etc.), etc.) rather than abdicating our responsibility to someone or something else and then bitching when it is ineffective.

  • Don't hold your breath about it getting produced, unless you can send Mike some good ideas for actual show segments. The key is for him to be able to turn the situation into a good segment, and his in-your-face style would be hard to implement against an Internet-only company.

    On the other hand, I suppose it can't hurt to keep trying. It is a good idea, and if anyone can give eToys the satirical dressing-down it needs, it's Michael Moore.

  • I think a little trip over to lego [lego.com] would do just nicely or maybe toys r us [toysrus.com]. I don't know what to do about the "bright and shiny" part maybe some furniture polish on a oak cofee table might do the trick or perhaps pyrite I hear that works well for shiny and fooled a great deal of people :)
  • Hmmm...I own an avant garde theatre for a couple of years. You move in next door, open a toy store and then ask me to stop producing radical plays because it frightens some of the toystore customers.

    If eToys didn't want to be associated with etoy, they should have thought of that before spending millions marketing their asinine name.

  • I have one nefew and four nieces aged 2 through 10, for which I buy xmas presents every year. Etoys would have been the first place I would have checked, had it not been for their reprehensible behavior. Then there are 5 birthdays spaced throughout the year.

    As it is, they lost some $300 in xmas revinue from me alone. Add to that an additonal $400-$600 in birthday revinue in 2000. Multiply the resulting value by at least another 8-10 years, as in light of their most recent actions will never shop there, ever.

    Now, ask yourself: how many people in the artistic and technical communites either have children of their own, or siblings who do, who fall into the same category? The effect is magnified, inasmuch as geeks are significantly more likely than Joe Average to actually spend money online. It was incredibly stupid, indeed bordering on fiscal negligence if not outright self-sabatage, for etoys.com to alienate one of their most promising customer bases in the way that they have.

    With any luck both their financial report and stock value will reflect this for a long time to come.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    IF eToys argument is "hey, do what you like, but can you keep the stuff that's age-inappropriate off the public pages", then I don't see the problem.

    There's still a potential problem: if the etoy.com domain was registered first (which I believe is uncontested), then what right does etoys have to be ordering etoy around?

  • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @09:04AM (#1432112)
    Please consider demanding a public apology to Etoys as well. It is important that they be held accountable for what they've done and not just be able to slink anonymously away, only to come back and do something equally reprehensible another day.

    I am making my position to them (politely)clear in another window as I type this.
  • I was not intending to suppress their right to freely communicate with etoy and express there desire. They even have the right to sue. I have the "right" to sue you for remarks that I "think" you may have directed against me whether or not you did. I would lose, but that is my legal right.


    Etoys is not just communicating and asking. They are not just saying "will you make your home page age appropriate". They have something in the other hand. They have NO MORAL RIGHT to be "thus" concerned with what etoy does. I am NOT the one suppressing free speech. I believe etoys is.

  • by Skapare (16644) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @09:05AM (#1432115) Homepage
    I remember a childhood story about a duck giving a snake a ride across the river in exchange for the snake agreeing not to bite the duck. Once on the other side the snake bites the duck and the duck in his dying breath asks why and the snake replies, because that is that nature of being a snake.

    Now we turn to big corporations and small organizations. Same story.
  • of course, that to shoud be a from.

    Please consider demanding a public apology from Etoys as well.
  • I agree that it's a subjective decision, but being subjective (and therefore varying between people) doesn't really change a person's ability to still make that decision.

    After all, what you call a headache is subjective and therefore at variance with what I call a headache, but we're still capable of accepting each other's definition and understanding what the other person means.

    I don't see why "age-inappropriate" should be any different. Sure, one person can very in their opinions with another, but if we respect that, we can STILL come to an understanding as to what "age-inappropriate" means. It means "that which is not appropriate for that age", and it will have that meaning for the most extreme conservative, the most open liberal, pagans, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.

    Sure, no two people will agree as to what actually -is- inappropriate, but that's not the issue. The request referred to "good faith", and (IMHO) that means "go by YOUR definition. If =you= aren't comfortable with 5 year olds seeing this, then why not put it somewhere where 5 year olds won't have access to it?"

    "Good Faith" almost -can't- mean "Use Our Definition", as that requires obedience & servitude, rather than the "we trust you to follow your beliefs" that "Good Faith" implies.

    As for .htaccess files, HTML pages and web servers - if a person doesn't understand what a web server is, how do they understand the idea of driving to a shop, faxing a resume, or sending a postcard to a friend?

    I agree that a lot of people are, ummm, clueless, but I've taught a lot of people too, and I've found that people have no problems understanding concepts that are familiar to them. Computerese scares people because it -seems- alien. The concept, though, beneath that is all very familiar stuff to these people.

    .htaccess files are simply files which let the system know who can access the file. For non-techies, this translates to: ".htaccess files are like bouncers. They restrict who can get in, often by name, invitation or appearance."

    (For techies, name = hostname or username, invitatation = cookie or certificate, appearance = browser type or capabilities)

    The definition of insanity is to try and do the same thing, time and time again, expecting different results. If you describe things too technically for Joe Bloggs, use ideas that Joe Bloggs -does- know, and show how they relate. It's easier on everyone, if people can learn in a way that works for them, rather than having everyone struggle uphill.

  • Why should the government or corporations decide the zoning requirements? Shouldn't parents be somewhat responsible? If you don't want your children to see such materials, buy a commercial filtering program. I am sure that many, if not most, filter out etoy. If they don't, you can manually set it yourself, or ask them to add it to their black lists or whatever.

    Don't make etoy do the work that you should be doing.

  • Speak for yourself, dude...I've got Meowth chilling on my desk as we speak ;)
  • Well, aside from the obvious (Legos!) there's always the obvious...

    NERF GUNS!!!
    (for those of us BOFHs who have run out of space for dead bodies)
  • There is something fundamentally wrong with our legal (and moral) system when something like this happens and is not thrown out of the legal system as 'frivilous'. Has any though ben given, or action taken, to mount a legal defense fund for Etoy given the current situation? Some sort of precidence must be set if we are to prevent similar occurances in the future. It might be in our (Netizens), best intrest to take E-Toys to task for what they've done on thier own ground (i.e. legally). My $.02
  • by Travoltus (110240) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @09:18AM (#1432127) Journal

    According to eToys' [yahoo.com] stock history, they've dropped from almost $80/share to ~$25.50/share.

    Does anyone have a really credible analysis on this? I found some ideas over at the Red Herring [redherring.com]. Toys R Us is down to $14.13, $10 off its yearly high. The entire online toy purchasing industry is suffering from a lack of confidence, resulting (reportedly) from their inability to fill toy orders on time.

    While customers of other toy makers (Toys R Us) and KBKids professed (at a rate exceeding 40%) they wouldn't shop there again, the rate of terminal dissatisfaction with eToys is 12%.

    My prediction is that eToys' stock will rebound. The eToys death watch will be an excruciatingly slow event and will suffer quite an ugly setback as eToys (in my non-investor prediction) gets out of the hospital bed around early Spring, the time by which eToys will most likely have gotten their butts in gear with regards to meeting customer orders. They will either have more efficient fulfillment techniques, or customers will buy earlier, but in either case this major depressant upon their stock value will be lifted away by April.

    So is there cause for despair? Yes and no. Surely we cannot avoid eating a few crow feathers here and there when eToys' stock rebounds. But the way to keep the whole crow from being stuffed down, i.e. the way to keep their stock from rebounding too far, and perhaps even drag it down to sub-$20 levels, is rather clear.
    1) If you know of any online artist groups, inform them about the eToy vs eToys issue. The artist community does not suffer this crap very easily.
    2) If you know of any non-online artist groups of any sort - stores, galleries, you name it - let them know, also.

    There is the more drastic and difficult theory, also:
    3) Gather donations and fund an ad in USA Today, documenting the tragedy of eToys' attack on etoy.com. Express it as an attack on artistic free expression by means fraudulent legal tactics (false patent claims, etc.), under an atmosphere of judicial ignorance favoring the biggest-mouthed, deepest-pocketed lawyers. Call for a boycott on eToys.com.

    You have to find ways to create massive tides of bad press for eToys - this and this alone will create a major dampener on their stock value. This should start right now, while their stock is down, so as to depress the upcoming rebound as eToys prepares a mission plan to prevent their previous customer fulfillment failures from happening again.

    Now I've checked USA Today for their information on the costs of a full page ad [usatoday.com], and the rates are almost $11,000 for a 1/16 page ad, up to $81K for a full pager. It ain't cheap. Of course the bigger the ad the more people are going to notice it, but I think even at 1/16th page it is still going to cause major press, and grab the attention of a lot of people.

    What do y'all think?
  • So basically what this means is that I can start my own toy chain, say... "Playtoy.com" (assuming that weren't already taken). Does that mean that I'm within my rights to "suggest" that Playboy.com start keeping it's adult oriented content on some other URL?

    Really now....
  • Something like this was discussed prior to the lawsuit. Etoy wanted Etoys to pay for an advertisement is what it boiled down to. Hard to say if Etoy was trying to be helpful or not.
  • Don't want to sound too pessimistic, but I wonder how much appeal the eToys story would have to the "Awful Truth" audience and to Moore himself. (I haven't seen "The Awful Truth", but I did enjoy "TV Nation", "Roger & Me", etc.) Michael Moore's "little guy" is almost exclusively the low-tech working-class American who's being screwed over economically by the labor/trade practices of the big corporation.

    Somehow I don't think a bunch of avant-garde conceptual net artist over in Germany would arouse much sympathy, as they are (along with Slashdotters) already part of the high-tech elite that is, in his view, eliminating all those good 'n' honest factory jobs that deserve to be preserved well into the twenty-first century. (Sarcasm intended.)
  • by tpck (66866) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @09:20AM (#1432131)
    Ahem.

    We represent the interests of CrashDot.org Inc. & Co. It has come to our attention that your site, slashdot.org, may be willfully infringing upon our trademark(s) and intentionally misleading the public.

    CrashDot.org Inc. & Co. is an established e-commerce firm (as of Dec. 30th, 1999) with market capitilization of over $259.6 billion USD. As the premiere retailer of konkey widgets online, we have an obligation to our shareholders to protect our intelectual property from unlawful individuals such as yourself.

    We request that you take your website, slashdot.org, offline immediately and delete any and all files relating to the site in any manner whatsoever. You will also be responsible for removing each and every link on the Internet that points to slashdot.org or any of its pages. Failure to comply will result in a mega-huge monster of a lawsuit -- don't fuck with us, we've got more money than you do.

    If slashdot.org is not disabled within 12 seconds of this posting, we will contact Network Solutions Inc. and have them pull the plug. Then we will procede with the lawsuit.

    Please contact your legal department if you have any questions. (Don't bother with the PR department, they know nothing. Buncha monkeys think we've been keeping good relations with you folks for months, and have even offered to buy your domain name for a huge sum of cash. Ha, what morons.)

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
    The CrashDot.org Inc. & Co. Legal Team.

  • Mmmmmmm....I just love that new-baby smell...
  • There is NOTHING illegal or immoral for eToys to go over to another company and say "hey, we can be mature about this, how about we work something out here."

    But eToys is not doing that. They're holding the threat of the pending lawsuit over etoy to coerce compliance.

    When someone points a gun at you and offers not to pull the trigger if you hand over your wallet, it's not a polite request -- it's robbery, no matter how politely phrased.

    Not very peaceful, civilized, or enlightened.

  • There is NOTHING illegal or immoral for eToys to go over to another company and say "hey, we can be mature about this, how about we work something out here." I'd call that bloody sensible, if you ask me! It's about time someone asked, rather than demanded at gunpoint or lawsuit-point.

    Hello?! McFly?!?! Have you been following the same story I have?

    eToys SUED eToy on the basis of TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT, got their domain (eToy's domain was older then eToys'!) SUSPENDED by NSI, and now you think eToys is being SENSIBLE because you think they're asking for consessions on issues which have NO RELEVANCE to the court case at ALL?!?!

    eToys has no legal or moral right to sue eToy for anything, let alone to be the content police of the net. I think you need a whack from the reality stick personally.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • IRELL & MANELLA, LLP [irell.com]
    1800 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 900
    Los Angeles, CA 90067-4276
    (310) 277-1010
    Bruce A. Wessel [irell.com] (116734)
    phone (310) 203-7045
    fax (310) 203-7199
    email bwessel@irell.com [mailto]
  • Grrr.

    I would imagine that Etoys probably thinks that having Etoy shock art just one character away from the Etoys childrens section is like having Howard Stern come on the TV right after Sesame Street.

    No, it's much more like having Howard Stern come on MTV (or whatever channel he's on) at the same time that Sesame Street is on PBS, and then PBS shuts MTV down because a few kids press the wrong buttons on the remote.

    Should anything be allow on Main Street in the metaverse, or should there be some zoning bylaws to seperate childrens toys stores from adult performance art?

    It is eToys that should have to work around this problem. They "moved in next to" Etoy, they have to live with what was already there. Following your analogy, they moved into the area that was zoned "adult performance art" and now want it to be changed to "childrens". If they want this problem solved, they really need to move out of the zone they're in, not change how their current location is zoned.

  • by jetson123 (13128) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @09:35AM (#1432142)
    Internet companies pick names all the time, and most of them try to make sure that there are no objectionable, pre-existing, confusable names.

    Many Internet companies, in fact, buy confusable domains outright. eToys should have tried to acquire the etoy.com domain name before they got started.

    Either eToys didn't do their homework, or they decided early on that they didn't care about the confusability issue. Either way, it's the responsibility of eToys, not etoy.com, no matter what etoy.com content is.

    Besides, the etoy.com content doesn't seem "adult" by European standards. Why should US hangups and prudishness dictate what the rest of the world can see on the Internet?

  • IF eToys argument is "hey, do what you like, but can you keep the stuff that's age-inappropriate off the public pages", then I don't see the problem. Anyone capable of setting up a web page is more than capable of setting up an .htaccess file, and anyone capable of thought is capable of deciding if something is "age-inappropriate".

    Well simply put, thats not eToys stance AT ALL and even if it were, eToys is NOT the content police of the net.

    My we have very short memories don't we? eToys sued eToy on the basis of TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT. eToys has NO AUTHORITY to sue ANYONE for displaying nudity, profanity, or any other content on the net, unless its libelous or slanderous, which this was obviously NOT the case.

    Now you think eToys is being SENSIBLE for asking for consessions on issues which have NO RELEVANCE to the court case at ALL and using the law suit as an enforcer to scare eToy into submission? This is sensible to you?

    The mere thought of what you find not sensible scares me.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • Sure it does, except for the no-refund part. If NSI thought that the TM case would have been upheld, they would *then* have a right to deny the use of a particular name. I am in no way advocating their business practices, especially in this particular case. There are a slew of ways they could have handled it better. They didn't. Maybe Etoy will sue... maybe not. They may not have any money left by now.

    Eric

  • I really don't see how cyber squatting comes into play here. Etoy was the first and therefore if anyone is squatting it is Etoys, but Etoys is the major name in this debate so it would seem highly unlikely that they are squatting to gain recognition from etoy.
  • Don't pretend that every side has been heard in full. Even on Slashdot. That's not to say there's editorial bias here - I don't believe there is - but, rather, that there's a limited amount of space and an unlimited number of opinions amongst the different sides.

    No editorial bias on Slashdot? Excuse me? This is one of the most biased ``news'' outlets you'll ever see!

    And that's fine.

    People, even people who write for the news, should have opinions. That's their job. If their job was ``just the facts'' then we might as well all just read press releases instead.

    This notion of ``journalistic neutrality'' was invented by the wire services late last century in order to be able to sell their stories to both Democratic and Republican papers. They found that stories that didn't express opinions were saleable to a wider market, and so if they kept up the charade that both sides of an argument had merit, they made more money.

    Sometimes both sides of an argument don't have merit. Some times one side is just wrong. Analysis of current events is the most important part of journalism, and yet today people treat it like it's a bug rather than a feature.

    Getting the facts right is an important part of journalism, but so is spelling. Explaining what the facts mean is the most important part, and that usually can't be done without expressing an opinion. (Opinions being what is pejoratively refered to as ``bias'' by people who hold opposing opinions.)

  • Then bypass the "official" DNS namespace altogether.

    Humor me for a moment...

    The DNS concept is very simple, in both design and in implimentation. It would not be a stretch to create (quite quickly) a new suite of programs, daemons, and programs for popular OS's to have a "fallback" name space. One which is run by grassroots geeks who hate the NSI and etoys.com of the world. New (cool and creative TLD's could be added at will. If The "official" etoy.com is being held hostage, then the resolver would query the alternate name space if the query of the official one fails.

    "That's just peachy," you say. "But who gives a rat's posterior if there are no registrants in the new name space?"

    Very good point. I'd suggest an alliance with an internet industry that's large, powereful, and one that would likely dig even more name space to pollute: the porn industry!

    The average user just loves to add new plugins to their OS/browser. Plus the press would gobble the story up and spit it far and wide. "Activists create alternate name space to fight Corporate Evil!" Pretty soon, even OS/browser producers will add the feature and it will become just another given on the net.

    Those who manage the name space can thumb their noses at the likes of etoys and NSI and actually right some wrongs.

    Of course, the political hell of not only managing millions of registrations (anbd doing so fairly) will be hard, but that's another discussion.

    Is this even feasible?

  • A friend of mine asked me if I was a bit obsessive about the etoys vs etoy issue.

    No.

    Try not to take the following quote out of context, I am not advocating anybodys demise, I am making a point about your business practices.

    Robert Heinlein wrote in the "Notebooks of Lazurus Long": "Don't ever scare a small man, he will kill you! "

    You are scaring me. I build websites for a living.

    I am betting my life and that of my family, on my ability to make a living communicating my clients needs and desires to the web.

    To that end, over and above what I must know to build and promote my customers sites effectively, to keep fresh as new technologies arrive, as my skills improve, devoting more time to litigation than to creation is not an option.

    Your 'offer of settlement [wired.com]' is at best a delaying tactic, giving etoys time to recap some shareholder value by getting you off the radar screen.

    Well it's not going to work.

    You are not the first company to try to use checkbook litigation to have it your way, but I am devoting my time and energy to make you the last. Unlike a lot people that fill your email box with their thoughts, I am spreading word of your actions across the web in every venue I can find and can get access.

    A number of people are calling for the resignation of Toby Lenk. That is a call for the board of directors to make.

    The internet is unlike snug little publications, old boy networks, or the evening news. The internet offers immediacy and community. The majority of links below[1] [slashdot.org] all were created in less than thirty days since the TRO was issued.

    If the internet is going to develop, having a place for all, including lawyers and toy companies, allowing everyone the ability to grow and prosper, we must not be hostage to anyones checkbook.

    Since I am on the subject of checkbooks, the following suggestions may get your site off the top of the Internet Fecal Roster.
    • An Immediate withdrawal of your lawsuit
    • A Public Apology to EToy on Your Website Front Page to run for 60 days and a link to it thereafter as long as you remain on the internet.
    • Monetary Compensation to Etoy in the amount of at least $300,000.00 ($10,000 a day for each day the etoy site is down.
    • In Cash or Certified FundsNo Checks or Stock!!
    • A contribution equal to 200% of the Above figure for a Fund to the National Arbitration Forum [arb-forum.com] for resolving Domain Name Disputes [arb-forum.com], for those name holders without deep pockets.

    This is MY Opinion. This does not constitute an offer to settle, nor does it in any way represent the views of any other than myself. This may help however.

  • If you know of any online artist groups, inform them about the eToy vs eToys issue. The artist community does not suffer this crap very easily.

    I can tell you, the backing behind online artist groups is very large. We may not have a site like /. but there are a lot of sites involved, and just about everyone has subscriptions lists that spread news quite quickly. I would say the online art movement against eToys is almost as large as the Slashdot movement, even if it isn't "in your face". Here's some online art sites w/ relevent info for those in that community:

    praystation.com [praystation.com]
    kaliber1000.net [k10k.net]
    kiiroi.nu [kiiroi.nu]
    vitaflo.com [vitaflo.com]

  • You're kidding?

    I bought from them, then sent it all back, risked having to brave toys-r-us or the mall in the midst of peak brain-less shopper hunting season.

    Had to pay overnight from amazon and a couple others (noodle-kidoodle) to get stuff in time. Plus, I haven't got credited yet for the returned merchandise, and I doubt I'll get anything for my shipping charges to return the stuff. But you gotta make a point.

    And, BTW, although I have two children who I buy for online, I also regularly partake in Pokemon and other crap myself - just can't help disposing of that disposable income! :-)

  • In the real world, settlements are desirable things to reach. It is naive and foolish to believe that either side would completely capitulate unless and until they are clearly lost. Accordingly, in the real world, settlements don't happen unless both sides are holding their stomachs, hating the settlement; but hating the alternative even more.

    Despite much I have seen written here on slashdot, it appears to me objectively, that there exists a litigable case, and that neither side has anything close to a slam-dunk. Talk about counterclaims based upon malicious prosecution or abuse of process on these facts is the kind of talk in which only people unfamiliar with these causes of actions would engage.

    While I agree that the particular language described here is out of line, there are some obvious solutions that, in the real world, work to solve many close or too-expensive-to-litigate domain name cases:

    Use a "selection page." Have the "home page" be essentially devoid of substantive content promoting either party, but serve solely as an index to guide browsers to the intended web sites. Each party is free to place anything they want on their respective web sites -- the only limitation is that the first page offer a plausible description (they would negotiate the nature of the page among themselves) of each site, and provide links thereto.

    While this approach doesn't resolve all of the problems raised here on slashdot, it would be arrogant beyond belief for us to insist that etoy fight to the last inch at their own expense when other solutions might be available. Obviously, there are aesthetic issues and considerations at stake here, but IMHO, such a solution (or something like it) may be the only meaningful alternative to litigating to the bitter end. While I think we would all like to see closure and clear legal precedent regarding these issues, neither of the parties in interest really benefit from paying to test THEIR commitment to OUR principles.

    In short, I agree that the EToys position is probably a show-stopper. But something like it is probably not. A case that can settle should settle, and we, particularly as spectators, should not treat meaningful efforts to find a middle ground with derision.
  • hey, do what you like, but can you keep the stuff that's age-inappropriate off the public pages", then I don't see the problem.

    What age? eToy is not a children's site and was never targeted as one. a .htaccess file for pages meant to be read by the public is not going to work. How will it determine if the client is an adult who didn't actually want to buy toys? Wouldn't the brick and morter equivilant be 'OK, you can sell your artwork next door, but keep the front door locked!'

    As for what eToys actually demanded was 'OK, you can sell art work, but if it's not appropriate for children, you'll have to direct the customer across town, and no, a back room won't do!'

    In either case, they're saying that to someone who has been there longer than they have. Nobody told eToys they HAD to be eToys.com, if they didn't like the neighborhood, they should have chosen a better location!



  • "We put a domain name on hold so no one has access to it," Regan said.


    If they would simply put *both* names on hold
    in a dispute situation like this, we would not
    have this kind of problem.

    Excuse the previous content-free post. I slipped.
  • by bons (119581) on Thursday December 30, 1999 @12:01PM (#1432184) Homepage Journal
    This new story [wired.com] has some great lines from etoy.

    Apparently they're enjoying the situation and getting ready to launch an online game. There's a lot of really enjoyable things in this article. It brought a smile to my face to see the chaos that they have planned. A new web site, games, a music CD. I'm liking it!

  • My question is what happens if etoy winds up winning a court battle between the two. I remember that a judge said there was a $10,000/day fine for etoy.com if they left their site up... will eToys be made to compensate etoy for the downtime? ($10,000 per day of downtime, plus all of etoy's legal fees seems like a fair deal)

    I'm just glad I don't have any stock in eToys. :)
  • Hear hear! I, for one, would definitely contribute to a etoy.com legal defense fund. The general consensus I'm seeing about this case is that eToys doesn't have a particularly good legal case, and that their likelihood of winning at this point is mostly based on having more money. A legal defense fund, if large enough, could tip the scales just enough...
  • by Froomkin (18607) <froomkin@@@law...miami...edu> on Thursday December 30, 1999 @12:37PM (#1432190) Homepage

    I'm sorry, but on what exactly is e-toys case based? I don't see it.

    There are four families of possible causes of action. From what I've read in the papers (I have NOT seen any of the actual court documents) none of them works:

    1. The Lanham Act. But etoys have to overcome insurmountable difficulties here. First, the etoy people were there first.
      1. Trademarks are not retroactive. If etoy was there first, they win under the Lanham Act.
      2. Second, the two groups are in different lines of business. So the likelihood of confusion is tiny.
      3. Third, the etoy people are arguably non-commercial; the Lanham Act only applies to commercial uses of a name.
    2. State and federal anti-dillution law.
      1. I don't know anything about Cal. state anti-dillution law (if any), so I'll pass on that.
      2. Federal anti-dillution law only appplies to commercial users. Same issue as above.
      3. To prevail under federal dilution law, etoy would have to prove that their mark was "famous". While not impossible, it is a stretch.
      4. 15 USC 1125 only protects a famous mark if the dilutive use "begins after the mark has become famous." That is clearly not the case here.
    3. The cybersquatting bill only applies if the alleged squatter was acting in bad faith. That is clearly not the case here.
    4. This is not a case where unfair competition law applies.

    I think the judge was wrong to grant the injunction. Some combination of talk about securities fraud, other bad things, the xmas rush, the home town advantage, judicial error, whatever, produced the injunction. I don't see how it could have survived an appeal. Or am I missing some fact somewhere? Anyone seen the actual court papers?

    To my eye it's no wonder etoys is trying to drop the case.


    A. Michael Froomkin [mailto],
    U. Miami School of Law,POB 248087
    Coral Gables, FL 33124,USA
  • A button I wear on my K-Mart employee vest says it best:

    "I may be getting older, but I refuse to grow up."

    I like to play with Transformers...in fact, I help to moderate a newsgroup dedicated to them. [toys.trans....moderated]

    Toys are neat, dude.
  • "Foo says the world is round, but Bar says the world is flat. Now, the problem here is that you two are fighting and not even trying to listen to each other. You need to settle down and find some kind of neutral ground, because that's where the truth always lies- when people fight this bitterly, they are always both wrong."

    "Logically, then, the world is a cube."

  • by bons (119581) on Friday December 31, 1999 @04:43PM (#1432230) Homepage Journal
    TOYWAR [toywar.com], etoy's new site is up! See it to see why you should see it!
  • Etoys moved in next to an art-shop. Now they complain that some people may not like the art made by (or show on) Etoy.com... well.. they knew what thewy were getting into, it's their own bloody fault. P.S. anyone heard anything about a southafrican company sueing etoys?

    //rdj

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