«And at a time when it has become increasingly difficult for contemporary art to be shocking, it may be that the only way to write a transgressive work of art is to flat-out steal it from someone else. In other words, the only way left to shock is not through controversial content, but by subverting the very form and structure of the artwork itself» - Pete Rojas.
Hell.com, seemingly an anti-web site built in 1995, with no public access and contents, was a sort of conceptual black hole on the Net. Within three years, Hell.com turned itself into a launching pad for cool designers and leading net.artists. In February 1999, a limited number of visitors is invited to access the exhibition Surface, namely the Rhizome mailing list subscribers, which are given a password allowing the access to Hell.com, a "private parallel web".
During the 48 hours of opening, hidden in the mob, 0100101110101101.ORG enter the web site and download the whole of it. They immediately upload it on their own web site, in an anticopyright version, making it wide open to all netizens. The action is enough to upset Kenneth Aronson, owner of Hell.com, who blames 0100101110101101.ORG for theft and threatens them with an international lawsuit for copyright violation. Today, years later, the "stolen" Hell.com is still freely available in www.0100101110101101.ORG.
Russian net.artist Olia Lalina, founder of Art.Teleportacia- the first net.art gallery to have appeared in the web and also the first attempt to sell works of net.art - is the second blow. When someone asks "how can you sell a work of net.art if everyone can access it for free?", Lialina always claims that the originality of a net.art work is guaranteed by its domain name, the URL.
Needless to say, Art.Teleportacia is quickly sucked by the string known as 0100101110101101.ORG. The same site selling "original" domain art, in June 99 is doing it twice, with no great variation of prices...
The exhibition changes its name from "Miniatures of the heroic period" into "Hybrids of the heroic period", and the five "original" works are replaced with as many "hybrids", pages obtained by meshing up these works with well known Web pages.
September 1999 is the time of Jodi.org. Unlike the past two copies, that contain slight modifications, the Jodi's web site is just cloned as it is. Downloaded and uploaded with no variation at all.
The international press (The New York Times, Le Monde, Britannica, Haaretz) realizes that, in the friendly world of net.art, there is somebody dedicated to systematic plagiarism provoking a wave of debate about the "commercialization of web art", authenticity, copyright and the very nature of digital art.