As stated by Ars Technica, Techdirt’s founder, Mike Masnick, is famous for taking ” no prisoners when it comes to his writings about intellectual property, net neutrality, the law, and everything in between.” Masnick was especially dismissive of Shiva Ayyadurai’s claim to have invented email as a fourteen-year old in 1978.
Dr. Ayyadurai, hired Charles Harder of Hulk Hogan v Gawker fame to bring a libel act against Masnick. As Manick points out:
It has taken up a significant amount of my time (and the time of others who work here) over the last month and delayed multiple projects that we were working on, and even forced us to pass on writing about many stories we would have liked to cover. Even though we are confident in winning the legal fight, it has already taken a massive toll on us and our ability to function and report. We have now set up a Techdirt Survival Fund at ISupportJournalism.com, which will allow us to continue our reporting on issues related to free speech and the growing threats to free speech online, while continuing to fight this legal battle. We’ve put together an all-star steering committee to help us oversee how the funds will be spent, including representatives from both the Freedom of the Press Foundation and EFF.
Harder also filed the recent Melania Trump defamation case which seems geared towards punishing the media involved.
Masnick is raising money in part by selling Techdirt gear, including the “I Invented Email” shirt pictured below. Today is the last day of the merchandising campaign.
Masnick also has filed motions to dismiss the Complaint for failing to state a claim and an anti-SLAPP motion which asserts that the Complaint is intended to chill Techdirt’s exercise of its First Amendment rights. Masnick argues:
The Complaint fails to state a claim for which relief can be granted. That is because the posts challenged by Plaintiff are statements of opinion constitutionally protected against a libel claim. The 14 articles and 84 allegedly defamatory statements catalogued in the complaint all say essentially the same thing: that Defendants believe that because the critical elements of electronic mail were developed long before Ayyadurai’s 1978 computer program, his claim to be the “inventor of email” is false. The Defendants fully disclosed (and even provided hyperlinks to) the non-defamatory facts upon which they base their conclusion. Compare Phantom Touring, Inc. v. Affiliated Publications, 953 F.2d 724, 730 (1st Cir. 1992) (defendant’s “full disclosure of the facts underlying his judgment” rendered statement protected opinion).
The Complaint and Techdirt responses are below.