31 October 1997

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31 October 1997
It may or may not be art, but what's not to like about the fast-propagating response to Mattel's recent beatdown on Mark Napier's Distorted Barbie site? Napier's "experimental and conceptual art installation," a phantasmagoric visual rumination on the Barbie (and her parallel-universe sisters), was recently whacked by the crack legal staff at Mattel, who naturally found copyright infringements galore in Napier's plasticine riffing. Some raised their eyebrows at the legal tactics Mattel employed, which included going straight to the ISP rather than requesting modifications from the artist directly. Others felt compelled to raise something else entirely.

In reaction to the news of Mattel's assault, an impromptu network of anti-quashers have countered with a plot to jump start a "free-traveling meme." Namely, Napier's site in its entirety, duplicated ad infinitum in a sprawl of mirrors that supporters hope will be born faster than any legal team, even Mattel's, can reasonably be expected to snuff. As the action alert explains:

When the company asks us to cease and desist, we will. But by that time, dozens more copies of the site will have sprung up elsewhere to take its place. The lawyers' bogus squirrel hunt will turn into an endless, crazy-making pursuit of a target that multiplies exponentially by digital mitosis. Eventually, they'll give up and realize that the Internet is not a very good place to try and squelch free expression.

Of course, that remains to be seen. Preferably, over and over and over again.

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