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fwd: JoyWar (Net Art News)

March 8, 2004
Joywar: The Molotov Years

Recall Toywar, the battle between Zurich-based net collective etoy.com and
eToys, a once-profitable but eventually bankrupted toy vendor? Recap: in 1999,
the retailer closed down etoy.com, arguing that eToys users who accessed the
art site would be offended by its content. In an act of 'electronic civil
disobedience,' etoy supporters bombarded eToys.com, overwhelmed its servers,
and helped devalue its stock to $1/share. When the dust settled, the commercial
giant had lost five billion dollars worth of equity in 81 days and etoy.com
retained the rights to its name. Now: Joywar. Artist Joy Garnett, whose
paintings sample photojournalism, is being sued by a photographer
over 'Molotov,' a reworked, large-scale painting based on an image from 1978.
The case hinges on the question of who owns media images, especially those that
are supposedly documentarian: after all, if an artist can lay original and
exclusive claim to the portrait of a revolutionary hurling a molotov cock!
tail, we might have pause to wonder on the nature of that captured event. We
might also notice the anxiety released when an image is remade and given new
meaning, new circulation, and yes, new profit potential. While she awaits the
outcome of the suit, whose plaintiff is demanding several thousand dollars,
credit, and that she not exhibit or produce the work again, Garnett has
removed 'Molotov' from her website. Garnett's peers have initiated a 'Joywar,'
and a flourishing campaign to sample, share and remix is underway. It's
impossible to list here all of the mirror sites and uses of 'Molotov' that have
exploded in the last week or so, but it's clear that many are in favor of the
free dissemination and reuse of images and the rights of artists like Garnett
to sample. – Christine Smallwood


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