Techdirt’s First Amendment Fight For Its Life

[Note: This item comes from friend Bob Frankston. Bob’s comment:’I donated. Can one counter-sue for harassment on such a bogus claim?’. DLH]

Techdirt’s First Amendment Fight For Its Life
from the the-first-amendment-has-to-mean-something dept
By Mike Masnick
Jan 11 2017
https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170111/11440836465/techdirts-first-amendment-fight-life.shtml

As you may have heard, last week we were sued for $15 million by Shiva Ayyadurai, who claims to have invented email. We have written, at great length, about his claimsand our opinion — backed up by detailed and thorough evidence — that email existed long before Ayyadurai created any software. We believe the legal claims in the lawsuit are meritless, and we intend to fight them and to win.

There is a larger point here. Defamation claims like this can force independent media companies to capitulate and shut down due to mounting legal costs. Ayyadurai’s attorney, Charles Harder, has already shown that this model can lead to exactly that result. His efforts helped put a much larger and much more well-resourced company than Techdirt completely out of business.

So, in our view, this is not a fight about who invented email. This is a fight about whether or not our legal system will silence independent publications for publishing opinions that public figures do not like.

And here’s the thing: this fight could very well be the end of Techdirt, even if we are completely on the right side of the law.

Whether or not you agree with us on our opinions about various things, I hope that you can recognize the importance of what’s at stake here. Our First Amendment is designed to enable a free and open press — a press that can investigate and dig, a press that can challenge and expose. And if prominent individuals can make use of a crippling legal process to silence that effort, or even to create chilling effects among others, we become a weaker nation and a weaker people because of it.

We are a truly small and independent media company. We do not have many resources. We intend to fight this baseless lawsuit because of the principles at stake, but we have no illusions about the costs. It will take a toll on us, even if we win. It will be a distraction, no matter what happens. It already has been — which may well have been part of Ayyadurai’s intent.

[snip]

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