rtmark on Thu, 20 May 1999 09:33:31 +0200 (CEST)

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This is a press release, not a commercial solicitation. 

     [nettime-specific unsubscription info deleted.--tb]

May 20, 1999

Bush learns about internet a moment too late

Contact: Ray Thomas (mailto:bushinfo@rtmark.com)
         Zack Exley (mailto:zackexley@yahoo.com)
         Bush attorney Benjamin Ginsberg 
           (202-457-6405, fax 202-457-6315)
URLs:    http://www.gwbush.com/, http://rtmark.com/gwbush.com,
         Bush letter to F.E.C., etc.: http://rtmark.com/bush.html

Each week, thousands of people seeking information on probable Republican
presidential candidate George W. Bush, Jr. type "gwbush" into their web
browsers and end up at http://www.gwbush.com/.

Bush has tried hard for weeks to shut down the rogue site, which parodies
Bush's official http://www.georgewbush.com/ and discusses his past cocaine use,
as well as parodying U.S. politics in general. Bush's legal efforts began April
14 with a cease-and-desist letter claiming that gwbush.com violated copyright
laws. Shortly thereafter, on May 10, Time Magazine reported that the Bush
campaign had just purchased sixty additional domain names, including
bushbites.com and bushsux.org, in an apparent attempt at damage control. Bush's
most recent effort is a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission
that may have widespread implications for free speech on the internet.

gwbush.com is owned by Zack Exley, a Boston computer consultant. Most of the
content on the website was provided by RTMARK, a group that specializes in
calling attention to corporate subversion of the U.S. political and electoral
process. gwbush.com is listed as an unofficial Bush campaign site in Yahoo! and

Bush's latest legal effort against gwbush.com, a complaint filed May 3 with the
Federal Elections Commission, asserts that Exley has violated election laws by
not registering as a political committee, and urges that the site's "fair
market value" puts the endeavor well over the $1000 threshold that defines a
political committee under election law. (At one point, Bush's counsel had asked
Exley at what price he would sell his domains, which also include gwbush.org
and gbush.org; Exley quoted $350,000.)

The F.E.C. case may set a legal precedent in the area of internet speech in
electoral campaigns. One F.E.C. employee, who preferred not to be identified,
said the commission has recently established a "special inquiry committee" to
discuss possible regulation of sites such as gwbush.com.

"George W. Bush Jr. apparently thinks small-time folk should have to register
with the government before exercising free speech on the internet," said Rita
Mae Rakoczi, a lawyer and RTMARK representative. "The implications of such a
precedent could be quite serious."

RTMARK and Mr. Exley represent the unlikely kind of collaboration the internet
makes possible. Mr. Exley is a computer consultant to the Boston financial
sector, and describes himself as "a Christian who loathes hypocrisy." RTMARK is
primarily devoted to anti-corporate activism, and counts the very companies
that Mr. Exley works for as some of its targets.

By reserving the domain names, Exley initially hoped to sell them back to the
Bush camp for a small profit. That changed, however, when he read news articles
that discussed Bush's refusal to deny past cocaine use. His interest in the
matter has since escalated into something of a crusade. "Bush won't deny he
used cocaine, yet hundreds of thousands of people are serving very long
sentences for equivalent or lesser crimes, including many in Texas [where Bush
is governor]. Clinton just got away with perjury while a hundred people are in
jail for that crime. Do we want our children to learn that a crime is only a
crime if you don't have power?"

Exley first invited RTMARK to provide content for gwbush.com after hearing
about their "franchise" program, in which the group provides a tailor-made
thematic website to anyone with an appropriate domain. According to RTMARK
spokesperson Ray Thomas, "Bush himself was originally a secondary issue for us.
We just wanted to use gwbush.com as a platform to make various points about how
corporations have subverted and sabotaged the political and electoral process,
and hoped it could illustrate the low level to which campaigning has sunk. The
more Bush has tried to get in our way, however, the more we've chosen to make
the site a direct attack on his 'stealth' presidential campaign, and the worse
that makes it for Bush." (RTMARK's first version of gwbush.com is now archived
at http://rtmark.com/gwbush.com/.)

While the controversy surrounding http://www.gwbush.com/ represents the first
time RTMARK has been drawn into political conflict, clumsy legal actions are
nothing new to RTMARK. In April of last year, for example, Geffen and BMG Music
wrote RTMARK and Illegal Art letters demanding they cease distribution of
Deconstructing Beck, a CD of music made entirely from samples of Beck
recordings. Those letters (posted at http://rtmark.com/lawletters.html) helped
RTMARK draw widespread attention to issues of fair use and copyright law with
what had begun as an obscure release with a very limited audience.

The full text of the Bush lawyer's letter to the F.E.C., his cease-and-desist
letter, and other materials can be found at http://rtmark.com/bush.html. The
pages of http://www.gwbush.com/ that deal specifically with Bush's cocaine use
can be found at http://www.gwbush.com/bushpramnesty.html and
http://www.gwbush.com/bushq3.html. For more on Bush's domain-name buying
frenzy, see http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/990513/bn8.html.

RTMARK (http://rtmark.com/) uses its limited liability as a corporation to
sponsor the sabotage of mass-produced products. One of RTMARK's ultimate aims
is to eliminate the principle of limited liability. Occasionally, as with
http://www.gwbush.com/, RTMARK participates in advocacy directly related to
issues of corporate abuses of the political process.

                     # 30 #

This is a press release, not a commercial solicitation. 

     [nettime-specific unsubscription info deleted.--tb]

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