WOS 3 / Programm / Specials / Exhibition / ubermorgen.com, Injunction Generator

ubermorgen.com, Injunction Generator

2001 [http://www.ipnic.org/]

ubermorgen.com was founded in 1999 by Maria Haas (a.k.a. Liz or Lizvlx) and Hans Bernhard (a.k.a. etoy.HANS, etoy.BRAINHARD, hans_extrem, e01). The company which is registered in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Bulgaria, is active in the fields of software development, license agreements, applied design and consulting services for multinational companies as well as action, performance and mass media communication art. Ubermorgen characterizes its activities as »media hacking« and propagates its content via »guerilla marketing tactics« and so-called »shock marketing«.

Ubermorgen’s »Injunction Generator« (2001) automatically generates mass injunctions which are used as a weapon against critical websites, or as a means to cash in on lawyer charges because of alleged trademark infringement, breaches against imprint duty or personality rights. Ubermorgen writes: »is there any web-site you wanna take off the web using a highly subversive method? on our server, you auto-generate an "INJUNCTION" [.pdf/.rtf format], a standard court-order, claiming the target-website to operate on an illegal basis. this document will then be sent to the appropriate dns-registrar [dns=domain name service], to the owner of the website and possibly to some journalists for legal and public processing. all you have to do is to simply fill out a form and send it off, it will take you not more than 15 minutes. if the website is taken down we will inform you via email.« (http://runme.org/project/+ipnic/)

The »Injunction Generator« automatizes and democratizes what normally remains reserved to big companies with a strong financial backing: the spreading of cease-and-desist letters without any kind of legal basis. In order to suppress the distribution of allegedly critical information about its products or the company’s behaviour, corporations threaten individuals almost routinely with legal consequences or high penalties. In many cases, the fact of threatening alone leads to a considerable narrowing of the freedom of expression: »[T]he law is used by whoever has the most cash to victimize those without it.« ( The Yes Men)

The idea for the »Injunction Generator« can be traced back to another project developed by ubermorgen in 2000: »[V]ote-auction.com«. Under the plausible slogan »Bringing capitalism and democrazy closer together!« and in time with the US presidential elections in 2000 (W. Bush vs. Al Gore) American citizens were offered the possibility to auction off their vote via an Internet platform called »[V]ote-auction.com« to those bidding highest. In the most enviable way this project thus reflected on the deep entanglement of capital and (voting) power. While the individual selling of votes is strictly forbidden in all the states of the US as well as on the federal state level, this prohibition is constantly being undermined by massive (legal) campaign contributions of big companies.

The response in the mass media was overwhelming. Various US state attorneys announced a total of 13 legal proceedings against ubermorgen.com. In four US states actual law-suits were started (Missouri, Chicago, Massachusetts and Wisconsin) and temporary injunctions were issued. Because of a decision of a court in Illinois the website’s domain was blocked twice, but it was brought back online in time for the election under a slightly changed name. CNN reported seven times about »[V]ote-auction« and on October 24, 2000 the entire 30-minute justice show Burden of Proof, entitled »Bidding for Ballots: Democracy on the Block«, was dediated to the project.

A total of 450 million media consumers are said to have been informed about the project. In the end, when it turned out that the representatives of »[V]ote-auction« could not be held liable for any kind of illegal activities, the pending law-suits were closed (except in Illinois).

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