Techdirt Survival Fund: I Support Journalism

from the free-speech-matters dept

Donate to the Techdirt Survival Fund »

As we mentioned last month, we are currently being sued for $15 million by Shiva Ayyadurai, represented by Charles Harder, the lawyer who helped bring down Gawker. We have written, at great length, about Ayyadurai’s claims and our opinion ? backed up by detailed and thorough evidence ? that email existed long before Ayyadurai created any software. Once again, we believe the legal claims in the lawsuit are meritless and we intend to fight them and win. Earlier today, we filed a motion to dismiss (along with our memorandum in support) and a special motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP law (along with a memorandum in support). You can see all of those below. I encourage you read through them.

Unfortunately, the fight itself is incredibly distracting and burdensome. 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.

Many of you have already supported us in various ways — by becoming Techdirt Insiders, supporting us on Patreon or by buying t-shirts. We are so grateful for all initial support we’ve received, but for us to survive, we unfortunately need to ask for more help. Please consider supporting us via this new fund and spreading the word as well.

In this era, especially, strong independent voices in journalism are necessary. Allowing lawsuits to stifle freedom of expression online, silencing voices and creating chilling effects, is a huge threat to how a responsible society functions. Please support Techdirt and support journalism.

Donate to the Techdirt Survival Fund »

Filed Under: , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Techdirt Survival Fund: I Support Journalism”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
248 Comments
Thad (user link) says:

Re: Right

It’s not about knowing what they’re doing, it’s about being able to afford to defend themselves (not just in money but in time and energy).

People don’t bring SLAPP suits because they don’t think the defendants will know their rights. They bring them because they don’t think the defendant will be able to fight back.

But yeah, clearly they misjudged their target this time.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Are you kidding? TD has run multiple stories saying mean things about powerful people! If saying mean things about important people isn’t the definition of ‘fake news’ I don’t know what is!

(No, seriously, I have no idea what exactly ‘fake news’ is supposed to mean other than ‘They said something I don’t like’.)

DB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Trump is only a self-absorbed asshole.

He is not a moron. He built large buildings in NYC in the 1980s and 1990s when ‘the trades’ controlled all construction, especially concrete. And by ‘the trades’, I mean organized crime.

Building large buildings is not easy. There is a lot of profit in it because it’s very difficult to pull everything together. And once you are close to succeeding, you are shaken down by everyone that thinks they have the leverage to do it.

Such an environment can fine-tune an asshole.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

The guy lucked into a profitable family business by virtue of whose sperm and egg he grew from. That the business continued to succeed (bankruptcies and the high probability that he’d have made more money if he’d just kept his investments and not done anything with them at all notwithstanding) doesn’t make him smart. Guy can barely string an English sentence together. SAD!

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Actually Trump is Zaphod Beeblebrox – in so many ways.

“If there’s anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now.”

"One of the major difficulties Trillian experienced in her relationship with Zaphod was learning to distinguish between him pretending to be stupid just to get people off their guard, pretending to be stupid because he couldn’t be bothered to think and wanted someone else to do it for him, pretending to be outrageously stupid to hide the fact that he actually didn’t understand what was going on, and really being genuinely stupid. He was renowned for being amazingly clever and quite clearly was so—but not all the time, which obviously worried him, hence, the act. He preferred people to be puzzled rather than contemptuous. "

“Don’t try to understand me, just be grateful that you felt the warmth of Zaphod Beeblebrox’s aura on your wonderstruck face.”

“He had rather liked Zaphod Beeblebrox in a strange sort of way. He was clearly a man of many quallities, even if they were mostly bad ones.”

And remember he became Prsident of the Galaxy…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

You missed the most important part: the qualities he is required to display are not those of leadership but those of finely judged outrage … His job is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it. On those criteria Zaphod Beeblebrox is one of the most successful presidents the galaxy has ever had – he has already spent two of his ten presidential years in prison for fraud

JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

But he’s not in construction, he’s a developer and a marketer. He doesn’t need to know anything about construction (and likely doesn’t know much), he just has to pay the right people who do know. If you start with a lot of inherited money, hard things become much easier because you can afford to mess up and do it again. His string of failures and bankruptcies is evidence of that.

An even if he did have non-moronic qualities in his ‘profession’, at pretty much everything else he has clearly demonstrated moron-levels of ignorance, incompetence and all round general uselessness. And apparently a whole lot of people thought that qualified him for president…

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Absolutely right, I mean it's not like politics affects anyone but politicians!

So, couldn’t find any examples then?

Actually, let’s lower the bar shall we, how about you define ‘fake news’ before you present any examples, because like I said above I still have no gorram clue what that term is supposed to mean given how often it’s thrown around.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That is not fake news. TD expressed that it was good that TPP had been dropped, but that it was done for all the wrong reasons.
It is like them coming out and saying “You know cops really should take care not to shoot people when they are not a threat, because it could get the cop into trouble”.
Most of us here would agree that this would be a good thing, but for the wrong reason.

“Fake news” is already so watered down that it basically doesn’t mean anything anymore.

shanen (profile) says:

Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

I agree with your cause and I sincerely hope you win. Still I’m not planning to donate. In short, I don’t have enough money to donate to every good cause that needs it. Justice is on your side, but justice-on-your-side and ten bucks will buy you a fancy cup of coffee these days.

What TechDirt is doing is good, but not good enough in comparison to other options. (For example, I have donated to Mother Jones and Bernie Sanders.) Most of my reason for not supporting TechDirt in what may be its hour of ultimate need is because I don’t think TechDirt matters that much. If the readership is huge or hugely influential, then it is not apparent, so it appears that the disappearance of TechDirt will be a minor sadness.

Now I have suggested better alternatives for financial models, but near as I can recall, there was no interest expressed from the TechDirt people. What I can remember is a lot of asinine and destructive criticism without any evidence of deep thought underneath. Rather than repeating the constructive suggestions, I’ll just recap the problem: The current financial models of journalism are failing. BADLY.

There are two main models in play. One model is eyeballs-for-advertisers leading to disaster porn (like CNN), which leads to a death spiral (because reality is mostly boring, not interesting, and the ratings must decline over time). The second model is propaganda-for-rich-fanatics that makes FAUX “news” and Breitbart so “successful”, leading to #PresidentTweety. I rest my case and judging by yesterday’s press conference, I think gawd is about to rest America’s soul.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Red herring ahoy

Yes, of course, clearly TD is facing the problems it currently is not because someone doesn’t like what’s been said on it and decided to attempt to destroy it via a lawsuit, but because of it’s flawed financial model.

If you don’t think that supporting a site that’s being sued not because it broke a law or did something wrong but because someone doesn’t like what it said is important then enjoy your muzzled sites who only report on puff pieces that don’t cover anything important for fear of being sued into oblivion.

In fact reading your comment it’s even funnier, because the very things you complain about in your final paragraph is the kind of thing you can expect from every site thanks to the chilling effects from lawsuits like the one TD is currently facing. No digging into important stuff, certainly no coverage that might anger anyone with the power to sue, just tame coverage of the most trivial of topics.

shanen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Thank you for making my points for me

A constructive or thoughtful response? No.

I thank you for providing additional evidence of my main points.

If your actual intention was to encourage me to donate some money to help save TechDirt, then I have to express my condolences on your failure. I suppose you have such a success-filled resume so you could not care less about one more failure.

As noted, it will sadden me if TechDirt dies. However, your “contribution” might reduce my sadness. I’m confident you didn’t have such a deep plan in mind, so I can’t thank you for that one.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Thank you for making my points for me

Those main points being what again? That you don’t think TD is that important? That you think that the ‘financial models’ aren’t working for whatever reason, something which has absolutely squat to do with the lawsuit? Some third ‘point’ that I missed? What points did I provide additional evidence for?

I don’t care if you donate or not, I was merely pointing out that your reasoning was short-sighted at best, if not outright irrelevant to the matter at hand.

TD may not ‘matter that much’ to you but the precedent of ‘Say something mean about someone with money and they’ll use the courts to crush you’ this lawsuit will further entrench into the law will affect far more than one site and service, and given your complaints about ‘disaster porn’ and ‘propaganda-for-rich-fanatics’ reporting the chilling effect from this sort of lawsuit is likely to lead to even more of that.

shanen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Thank you for making my points for me

You’ve already provided sufficient evidence. Do you have any constructive point?

I can’t see any relevant response to your “reply” that doesn’t require sinking to your level of ad hominem argumentation, and I prefer not to.

If you don’t understand what I wrote, then you could ask about it. If you don’t care about what I wrote (or if you have nothing worth saying), then you could just say nothing.

These days I’m always trying to figure out how to close on a constructive note. I guess the best I can do here is recommend “The Shallows”.

Kathy (profile) says:

Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

Everyone has to make their own choices about where and when to donate. But specifically leaving a comment to say someone isn’t important enough is a mean-spirited thing to do.

I don’t make much money, but I think TechDirt does extremely important work. And I’m glad my income has risen enough that I can afford to donate some. I’ve now donated. And will try to do so again next month as well.

shanen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

If I helped motivate you to make that donation, then perhaps I should claim some credit?

Just joking.

And no, I have never heard of any substantial social or other contributions linked to this website. The user base seems quite small. Appealing to Congress does little to sway me considering recent Congressional results. If I think the contribution of Congress is worth nothing, then Techdirt’s effect matters little.

The principle is good. Now you’ve reminded me of the time I donated to the ACLU. No results that I could detect on the issue that concerned me, so I didn’t donate again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

Lol you didn’t see a result on the issue that concerned you, so you didn’t donate again…. You have such a warped view of reality that I am glad you didn’t donate here either. Individual donations never have an effect on specific issues that you can detect unless it was for more than ten million dollars. You are far more unimportant than this site.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

I knew SOPA was bad before I read Techdirt’s articles about it, and to be fair it was Smashwords who outlined what the problem with it was, but it was TD that dug in and explained what it was all about and I’ve been coming here ever since.

Techdirt is my go-to site about tech issues, tech politics, FTAs, free speech issues, personal freedom, and things like that. It’s one of the few blogs I’ve read where the reader comments are often as illuminating as the articles, which is why it takes a day or two to read a day or two’s worth of posts here because I read the comments too.

If TD went down I’d have to look elsewhere and in a lot of other places for the information I get from here and the community would be scattered to the four winds. Support TD if you love freedom because if that goes, Computerworld, Ars Technica, The Verge, The Register, and Wired, etc., will be looking nervously over their shoulders wondering which one of them will be next if they should step out of line.

shanen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

So I should just give up hope, eh? Is it possible that what seems like a non sequitur to you might have some actual meaning? Can you conceive of such a thing?

Obviously I doubt it. Even more strongly I doubt that you could ask a question worth answering.

Actually the AC raised a better point than you, but I don’t respond to ACs, so I’ll non-sequitur-iously transfer the response here.

I think that even small donors like me and probably like each person who has participated in this thread SHOULD be able to see how their individual donations, small though they be, actually do contribute to solving the problems that concern those small donors. I think that even small donors deserve some respect.

Took me a LONG time to understand that meaningful respect for the individual is a call for a universal principle, but I’m still working on the implementation. Obviously. Some sort of conflict with the thing about suffering fools gladly.

Thad says:

Re: Re: Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

Is it possible that what seems like a non sequitur to you might have some actual meaning? Can you conceive of such a thing?

Sure. I’ll mull that over.

Is it possible that you’re being a smug prick and should have thought twice before you wrote your original smug prick post? Can you conceive of such a thing?

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

Probably not. He wants us to suffer him gladly.

His repeated reference to his self claimed poverty is supposed to make us feel ‘something’ for his opinions. Pity, maybe.

His references to ‘not responding to AC’s’ is supposed to make us think he rises to some higher plane. It doesn’t.

That it took him a “LONG time” to have some understanding of respect is…telling. Some day, maybe, he will get it. I, have my doubts.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

I totally sympathize with people whose money is tight and who have to prioritize what they’re spending on. I’ve got a decent full-time job now, but for the decade prior to that I bounced from underpaid job to unemployment to temp job back to unemployment more times than I care to remember.

But you don’t go posting a lengthy diatribe about why somebody who’s asking for money is unworthy compared to other sources. I mean, I don’t usually give money to Salvation Army Santas at Christmastime, but I don’t stand there and lecture them on how they’re not as important as cancer research charities.

And while monetization of journalism continues to be a major dilemma, a post about a legal defense fund is damn-well not the appropriate place to wax philosophical on the subject. Techdirt pretty routinely writes posts about news sites’ flailing attempts at making money; such a discussion would be totally on-topic in one of those pieces.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

My point is that he is not the only one with financial woes. Others, myself included, don’t go about telling the whole world about them. So what is the point of telling us? Sympathy? Pity? Some form of manipulation to make his posts more…empathetic? It certainly does not contribute to any of his arguments.

And yes, this is not the right post to be arguing about funding journalism. This post is about defending the right to speak and state opinion without unfounded financial attacks through the courts, that win financially whether they are upheld by the court or not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

Your comments universally have a tone of “got to be cruel to be kind”.

But here’s the thing: the kindness you think justifies your attitude is, I believe you believe, the product of the deep wisdom you believe your comments hold.

Here’s the problem: they aren’t anywhere near as deep or as wise or as insightful or as unique or as interesting as you think they are. As far as I can tell your comments are all pretty run-of-the-mill stuff, spoken grandiosely but failing to offer any new or intriguing viewpoints and mostly just nibbling around the edges of big ideas that lots of us have been discussing for years.

And without the wisdom there’s no kindness, so the cruelty stands alone, and you just look like an asshole.

Arioch (profile) says:

Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

You say
“Now I have suggested better alternatives for financial models”
I ask:
Better?
Where?
and proof of this concept?

Seriously from some one that actually posts here and says

“I don’t think TechDirt matters that much.”

Sadly, you are so far out of touch with the popular consensus that I think you really should stop spouting this ill educated nonsense and go back to reading you obscure fantasy novels

shanen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

Sorry, but the credit for non-constructive and useless comment has already been claimed for today.

Say, here’s a really stupid idea. Why don’t you share your brilliant solution with all of us?

Just joking. I’ve been (mostly quietly) reading TechDirt for a while now. No such expectation seem plausible. I think it’s time to cut the link and stop. Avoid the rush.

shanen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

Wanting attention? No.

Perhaps it’s called advertising? Or perhaps pearls before swine? (The Japanese version involves a horse.)

Actually, what I would really like is to cause people to think more deeply about the general problems of journalism. I obviously think that “financial models” are involved, but so far I have detected little sign of much thinking here.

Just the usual shallow tripe one sees all over the Web these days. (Hmm… Is that why the google killed usenet?)

Kaden (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

Would that you were half as clever as you imagine yourself to be.

As it is, you’re presenting yourself as a cheapskate humiliation fetishist, too tightfisted to engage the services of a professional Dominatrix to call you names, and having to resort to trolling the internet for your sexual gratification.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

Most of my reason for not supporting TechDirt in what may be its hour of ultimate need is because I don’t think TechDirt matters that much. If the readership is huge or hugely influential, then it is not apparent, so it appears that the disappearance of TechDirt will be a minor sadness.

Were you against SOPA? If so, take a look at this report, and specifically pages 41 & 42 (though Techdirt is seen throughout) which notes that Techdirt was a huge driver behind stopping it. Not influential? Not according to the data which put Techdirt at the top of the list.

https://cyber.harvard.edu/sites/cyber.law.harvard.edu/files/MediaCloud_Social_Mobilization_and_the_Networked_Public_Sphere_0.pdf

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

I remember your original post and your demands that they turn the litigation over to the donators to decide how best to fend off the con man.

I’m sorry you got your feelz hurt, but to show up and DEMAND everyone do it your way or else… are you a fscking toddler?

You are who?
I don’t recognize your name.
Did you just decide to jump on the bandwagon to demand that TD comply with your internal list of demands to get support?

Yes people were rude to you, welcome to the internet genius.

You rode in on your moral high horse and spoke down to us idiots who weren’t as smart as you. Pull the stick horse out of your ass and consider that your tone is condescending & you reap what you sow.

See I’m a known asshole, so people expect this level of speech from me… hell most will be shocked I am holding back.

I’m so glad you are the ultimate authority on what is influential in the world, perhaps so you research you insufferable twit.

The Streisand Effect.
SOPA.
TPP.
Copyright Trolls.
and a slew of other topics that TD’s been on the cutting edge of.

I’m sorry you benefited from the coverage this little blog you never heard of, perhaps if they spent more time declaring how awesome they were instead of doing actual work you might understand their reach.

In closing fuck right off, we aren’t going to miss you telling us how we are all wrong because we won’t do things your way. Sort of explains why we have a President Trump, because you refuse to compromise & work towards a common good unless they adopt your viewpoint 100%.

As I am want to do…
ByeFelecia.gif

TechDescartes (profile) says:

Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

In your first comment: “I rest my case…” Your assertion that TechDirt is inconsequential is belied by your continued need to comment. If you actually believed TechDirt didn’t matter, you wouldn’t have bothered with your first comment, much less all of the others.

P.S. Are you making up for the absence of a donation by trying to drive higher-than-usual levels of activity on this post?

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Wanted: Better financial models for journalism

“no interest expressed from the TechDirt people”
Ahhh therein lies the real issue.

Whaaa whaaa genius me gave TD “good” ideas and they ignored me… whaaaa! And went into great detail again. Nobody gave a shit about your lousy ideas then and nobody cares now.

Lemme clue you in on something Shanen. You’re not as smart as you think you are. (Not even close.)

“I don’t think TechDirt matters that much”
Then why take the time to come here?
Do you even troll much… brah?

Cmon brah, you just mad g gave you such a gorgeous hairline and stunning looks. I bet your physique matches as well. Amiritebrah?

Now quit whining here and go back to entertaining all those supermodels dripping from your arm.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Done and done

I have my two shirts and you have my donation.

I respectfully disagree with the gentleman who thinks he’s above it all by donating to Mother Jones and that somehow that’s a “better” “financial model.”

My “better” “financial model” or whatever you say to make yourself feel good when you cruelly tell someone in need — that you, in a position to help, refuse to help them — says he’s wrong.

You have some of my money. As I make more, so will you.

My best wishes,

Ehud

shanen (profile) says:

Re: Following the angry mob, eh?

Well, at least you are polite enough (or something) to refer to me as “the gentleman”. However, your eagerness to hop on the hate-the-outsider bandwagon seems to have misled you a bit. I’m going to be polite and try to clarify a couple of your misconceptions even though the angry mob has pretty well convinced me that it is pointless.

I absolutely do NOT think that Mother Jones has a better financial model. (It is possible that one of the ACs made a reference to one of my suggested financial models, but I mostly ignore ACs.) Nor do I think I am “above it all”, but rather I weep for the state of journalism in today’s America and consider it quite possible that Putin is coaching #PresidentTweety in ways to destroy it completely. (If I were Russian, I would also weep for the state of Russian journalism. At the tombstone.)

Most importantly, I am NOT in a position to help TechDirt. I do NOT have that much money to make a difference. You evidently think you helped by buying a couple of t-shirts (though it is unclear if you made an additional donation). Congratulations, and I hope it makes you happy and helps save TechDirt.

However, I can definitely say that the t-shirt model of financial support is NOT one that I agree with. There is a real cost of t-shirts and I mostly regard that part as wasted. Do I have to keep reminding you that I don’t have so much money to waste?

Given the atmosphere of TechDirt, I’m now anticipating an argument about the advertising value of people wearing the t-shirts. Sorry, but I cannot help you there. I don’t need any more t-shirts and I rarely go in public while wearing a visible t-shirt.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re: Following the angry mob, eh?

“hate-the-outsider”
Awww the poor widdle “genius” you. Your fweewings hurt boychick?

You walked into someone’s house and told them they didnt matter. Now you want to act the victim and cry like a bitch.

You knew EXACTLY the reaction you were going to get by saying such things. It is the reaction you WANTED.

#TrollHarderBrah.
#GetABetterJobBrah (McDonalds is always hiring.)

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Donated - why do you need my address etc?

We tried to make those fields optional and even remove some outright – but for some bizarre reason paypal started rejecting payments that weren’t filled out on the foxycart side. As far as we can tell it’s an integration issue between the two, and we haven’t yet found a way to fix it.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Donated - why do you need my address etc?

Most likely its a hold over from CC processing.
Sometimes they get away with just the billing zip, but most of the time they want the full billing address under the assumption that if someone just skimmed your card they wouldn’t have that information.

The system is horrible archaic once you get into it…

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re:

I guess the boggest issue os that the guy has a judgement in hand with Gawker,

No he doesn’t. Unless you’re talking about the Hulk Hogan sex tape case, which isn’t really relevant here.

There was no judgement in Ayyadurai and Harder’s suit against Gawker. Gawker went bankrupt because of Harder’s other suit, then sold its assets to Univision, which settled the Ayyadurai case.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

A ‘significant legal hurdle’? Not really, just requires more money than the other side and a willingness to spend it, which is especially easy when someone else is paying.

If you meant that the judge is less likely to dismiss it at this stage because the other side was forced to settle, then while that may be the case it most certainly shouldn’t be. That he was able to take advantage of another lawsuit which drove the shared opposition into the ground most certainly shouldn’t be counted in his favor.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Do the Techdirt Deals count?

Note: The Techdirt Deals Store is powered and curated by StackCommerce. A portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals helps support Techdirt. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team.

If I’m reading that right then yes to an extent, though more direct means like TD Insider and gear would probably result in more money getting to TD, though I could be wrong.

My_Name_Here says:

Since my comment will be “moderated” for a couple of days, I pitch this into the dark. Perhaps you all might see it Monday or something.

First off, I have to say that I don’t consider Techdirt to be journalism. Definition:

“the activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or preparing news to be broadcast.”

Techdirt is commentary on the news. It’s writing about the news. It’s expressing opinion and trying to create public empathy for a position by talking about news stories. It’s not a news site. it’s a multi writer personal blog. There are flashes of news, but for the most past it’s discussion and interpolation of other people’s news reports, studies, and opinions.

So to say “I support Techdirt because I support journalism” is not a particularly good place to start from. “I support Techdirt’s right to free speech” might be a better place to go.

I also think that this whole deal is avoidable. Techdirt has been whacking at this guy for more than 2 years now, going from discussing the story to insulting him (“So, not only is he not the inventor of email, he’s also pretty clueless about how polls work and basic statistics too. Seems like a real winner.”). Essentially Techdirt baited a guy with a high dollar lawyer on speed dial, and well, ding, he’s pushed the speed dial button.

I almost think it’s all been done to promote Techdirt. I can’t imagine anyone being silly enough to keep kicking someone with a billionaire to fund his lawsuits and a lawyer who knows exactly how to paper you under.

Good luck with it. You earned it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Dear Everyone!

I am the ass nugget that hates the FCC and thinks it should be destroyed. I am also one of the ass nuggets that calls out TD when I perceive bias that spins left or right… but mostly left in TD’s case.

I am also one of the ass nuggets that was directly told by Mike Masnick to fuck off and never come back to TD. I of course reprimanded Mike and said that was some bullshit and they should never ask any reader to leave.

Regarding all of the little “my little bits” are hurting and I don’t want to donate to TD because I feel someone else is better suited for this or I hate TD because they don’t think like me. Well let me tell you this, you are a fuck head.

The only reason to not donate to TD’s defense is because you cannot afford too. Not because you think someone has a better chance. Like the stock market, it is better to diversify and also, because it is the right thing to do. TD needs help, I have been a lurking member for a long time, and even though I do not like some of their politics, no place is without its bias, and TD’s is not so bad.

Support TD, because we do NEED to do so! It may not be the biggest place on the internet but it is still nice to have this place on the internet, even if I think they act like nitwits from time to time!

I am unfortunately not loaded with Cash, but I will be making a donation to support TD. But I do wish I could so so like an AC though!

So try to do your part if you can, and try not to let Mike tell ya to fuck off either! You don’t have to be friends with people to do the right thing!

And remember, Every Nation gets the Government it Deserves!

So if you don’t help, then you are MORE deserving than others when the shit avalanches onto your head!

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Strategy?

Mike, I’m sorry to hear this has been so distracting to you and the other TD staffers.

I wonder if you’re handling it right.

I know it’s easy to be cool and relaxed when it’s not my own business and investment at stake, but I think it’s a mistake, on multiple levels, to respond with lots of time, attention, and legal expense.

The point is that Ayyadurai has no case. He clearly didn’t invent email; that’s trivial to prove in court. He’s clearly attacking you solely for pointing out that the emperor is naked.

There are other legal arguments, but given these facts I think they’re irrelevant.

I hear lots of TD commenters claiming that people have no choice but to fold in the face of baseless legal intimidation, because of the cost of defense.

By making a huge deal out of this, raising lots of money (I bought 2 shirts and a mug), and admitting to your own distraction, you are reinforcing that meme.

Which I think is plain wrong. Our court system isn’t that bad. It does care for simple justice and the plain letter of the law.

Instead of responding with all-hands-on-deck, red alert, and a 30 page filing, how about having your lawyer spend 4 hours drafting a 2 page reply:

  • Ayyadurai didn’t invent email. See these references.
  • This is a baseless attack meant to silence his critics
  • We want legal fees and damages for this baseless case

Then shut up. Let the courts do their work.

Even if you lose (unlikely), you can always appeal.

You are now 2 cents richer. Good luck. 🙂

TechDescartes (profile) says:

Re: Strategy?

Your advice is the equivalent of refusing a $10,000 drug in favor of some aspirin that won’t help because you just should let the disease run its course and get a $100,000 surgery later. Your comment about an appeal is like saying that, if surgery fails, you always can get a $200,000 transplant.

If you only can afford the first option, by all means take it. If you can’t afford option two combined with option three, or even option two standing alone, this may be your only chance for survival.

TechDescartes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Strategy?

Your second question is an absurd appeal to the extremes and not worthy of a response. Your first question already has been answered by an AC: “That’s… not how it works at all.” You clearly do not understand the American legal system, the concept of “procedural posture”, or how appeals work.

Simply put, your “aspirin” would only be useful to treat the headache of a cease-and-desist letter, if at all. TechDirt has a much more serious condition that requires a serious response. As numerous other commenters have recognized, TechDirt has made that response and has a reasonable chance of success.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Strategy?

“That’s… not how it works at all” doesn’t strike me as an answer at all (let alone one worthy of a response).

Care to elaborate for those of us without your understanding of the American legal system, the concept of “procedural posture”, or how appeals work?

Surely I can’t be the only one.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Strategy?

I have not.

Once many decades ago I defended myself pro se on a felony charge (driving a motorcycle without insurance – yes, that was a felony, at least then).

The whole thing was settled in an hour (I paid a $50 fine, and not a penny in legal fees).

I’m not snarking here – I’d truly appreciate it if you could explain what exactly is wrong with my understanding here.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Strategy?

See the comment below from ArkieGuy. Basically, if you don’t make an argument up-front, you can’t make that argument on appeal. If I’m not mistaken (which is possible; I most certainly am not a lawyer), that is what is referred to by “procedural posture”; the derivation of the phrase is a little complicated to explain, although it makes structural sense in my head.

That’s one major reason why you see so many legal filings which make a case for prevailing because X, then say “even if X doesn’t hold, we still prevail because Y; even if Y also doesn’t hold, we still prevail because Z”, et cetera. That way, all arguments are made up-front, and the right to use those arguments is preserved for appeal.

(One consequence of this is that if a lower court is bound by higher court precedent saying that argument X fails, and what you want is to have the higher court (or a court above it) overturn that precedent, you do in fact have to make argument X to the lower court even though the court has no choice but to reject it; otherwise, the higher court will reject your appeal out of hand.)

TechDescartes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Strategy?

I’m glad to read that OldMugwump’s comments aren’t intended snarkily. My response, agreeing with an AC that “That’s… not how it works at all,” also was not meant snarkily. It simply was a function of pointing out that there wasn’t really anything right about the comment and that to explain everything that was wrong would take way too long. I’ll tackle just three points.

First, the Wanderer is correct that ArkieGuy identifies part of the problem, though it really has more to do with “waiver” than “procedural posture”. “Waiver” means that arguments not made at the proper time cannot be raised later, including on appeal. “Procedural posture” means which phase of the legal process a case is in (pleadings, discovery, dispositive motions, trial, appeal). Certain arguments only work in certain phases.

For example, OldMugwump proposes having a lawyer spend part of a two-page brief arguing, “Ayyadurai didn’t invent email. See these references.” Whether or not it is true, that is a completely wasted argument at this juncture because the Court is not determining the truth or falsity of any of the allegations. The Court only is deciding whether Ayyadurai has alleged sufficient facts that a jury plausibly could find in his favor. So in the motion to dismiss, TechDirt rightly argued that he failed to allege certain required facts and that other facts, even if proved, don’t support his claim. If TechDirt wins the motion, Ayyadurai will have to fix the complaint. Maybe he can. Maybe he can’t. If he can’t, TechDirt got out with the lowest time and expense possible.

Second, OldMugwump also said: “Then shut up. Let the courts do their work.” This is bad advice. Our system is an adversarial one. For the most part, the courts only decide the issues raised by the parties. They don’t draft your briefs for you or tell you what arguments to make. If you do a bad job, it makes their job easy, granting judgment for the other party.

Third, Oldmugwump proposed arguing: “We want legal fees and damages for this baseless case”. The American legal system generally requires each party to bear its own fees, absent a statute or contract to the contrary. That’s why TechDirt’s lawyers went to such lengths to show that California’s Anti-SLAPP statute should apply to a case filed in Massachusetts. Try effectively explaining that to a Judge in OldMugwump’s proposed two pages, after no more than four hours of research.

One final comment. As for whether this is an “all-hands-on-deck, red alert,” frankly, TechDirt’s response seems about right. Instead of generating a slapdash response from the cheapest lawyer on the block, TechDirt has managed to respond with two solid motions. Good lawyering doesn’t come cheap.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Strategy?

Thank you for a very informative answer. I learned a lot from it, and will make somewhat less misinformed comments on the subject in the future.

I didn’t realize that this was still in the pretrial stage where the truth of the allegations are not yet in play. (Shows I didn’t do my homework; I hope that’s forgivable in a blog comment.)

Perhaps I’m biased from my own brush with the court system*, but despite my very recent schooling, my impression remains that in “slam-dunk” cases courts make an effort to return a just verdict.

That is, the necessity of a vigorous defense is proportional to the weakness of one’s case.

Each party to any lawsuit will naturally take different viewpoints re how strong each side’s case is, but cases are nonetheless objectively weak or strong.

It shouldn’t – and I still think doesn’t – take much to defend against a weak case.

Such as Ayyadurai v. Floor64, Inc. et al.

—-
* I pled nolo contendere pro se, which I think granted the judge both latitude and an obligation to look after the hapless pro se defendant.

TechDescartes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Strategy?

No, it’s not forgivable. Nothing is forgivable in a blog comment. We will summon the masses upon you and tear you to bits and put those bits in a box and put that box in another box and mail it to ourselves and then smash it with a hammer.

On second thought, we forgive you. But you’re going to have to ask for forgiveness again:

“Perhaps I’m biased from my own brush with the court system”: you do realize you still lost, right? You didn’t beat the rap. TechDirt wants to win, not lose less badly. That’s probably why they need our support more than anything (hey, Mike: “1A Victory Fund” is a bit more optimistic than “TechDirt Survival Fund”).

You then say: “That is, the necessity of a vigorous defense is proportional to the weakness of one’s case.” A more accurate statement would be: “That is, the necessity of a vigorous defense is proportional to the funding of one’s opponent.” Ayyadurai has $750,000 in the bank, making Charles Harder the proverbial 600,000-pound gorilla (if you convert to British currency). TechDirt has to be serious in its response.

Finally, even if Floor64 wanted to proceed pro se, it almost assuredly cannot. While individuals are free to represent themselves, companies almost always are required to be represented in court by a lawyer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Strategy?

Instead of responding with all-hands-on-deck, red alert, and a 30 page filing, how about having your lawyer spend 4 hours drafting a 2 page reply:
Ayyadurai didn’t invent email. See these references.
This is a baseless attack meant to silence his critics
We want legal fees and damages for this baseless case
Then shut up. Let the courts do their work.
Even if you lose (unlikely), you can always appeal.

That’s… not how it works at all.

Darkhog says:

Unfortunately I can’t support you financially, but have you tried to hire Ira Rothken (Megaupload, Artem Vaulim cases) to support you? I think he could do it pro bono if your funds would be bad enough.

Also I’d consider coutersuing for libel and spreading false information on Ayadruai part for the same amount (I’d add perjury as well, since the case most likely involve lying in front of a judge about who invented e-mail, but don’t know enough about US perjury law to know if it’s applicable here).

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Allegations in a lawsuit cannot be defamatory, even if the court decides in favor of the defendant. If they could, then every single person who’s ever been accused of anything and then found not guilty could sue the accuser(s) for defamation.

And, as the filings note, Ayyadurai’s claim to be the "inventor of email" is not (legally) false, any more than Masnick’s claim that Ayyadurai is not the inventor of email is false. "Inventor of email" is an inherently subjective term; it can’t be defined objectively. In other words, it’s an opinion.

Ayyadurai deserves to be mocked and shunned for his claim to be the inventor of email, and much moreso for suing his critics. But it’s his opinion, not perjury.

Entrepreneurman (profile) says:

anti-SLAPP laws

This case highlights how damn weak and nearly worthless our anti-SLAPP laws are. They’re really just another way for attorneys on BOTH sides to profit from abusive litigation.

California supposedly has one of the best anti-SLAPP laws in the country, but it’s barely a deterrent because it only awards attorney’s fees and costs, and provides zero damages to the actual victims of SLAPP suits (and no penalties against attorneys who file SLAPP suits!). What kind of deterrent or solution is zero compensation for the victims? As Mike points out, “the fight itself is incredibly distracting and burdensome.”

To be a truly effective deterrent, anti-SLAPP laws must include significant damages against SLAPP suit filers AND their unethical and predatory attorneys. Possibly having to pay attorney’s fees and costs is just the cost of doing business for a deep-pocketed SLAPP suit filer. It also means that the SLAPP suit victim has to risk paying their attorneys upfront, or be able to find an attorney who is willing and able to take the case on contingency hoping to win and get paid sometime down the road.

So once again only the attorneys win.

nicholas says:

Re: anti-SLAPP laws

Scott, you obvious know little about anti-SLAPP laws or have ever been involved in one. When there is abuse it is up to the judge in the case to handle it. Judges have a wide angle of discretion. If he is doing his job it can be dismissed. When there has been abuse it is because the courts are way to liberal on allowing cases to proceed that never have a chance of succeeding. If there is fear of bringing suit because of possible fees and penalties then you will be possibly restricting the use of this much needed law.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No, you don’t. You only need one thing. What they write. 20 some years of that is available. Go do some reading, and leave your ideological colored glasses aside.

To be an asswipe one only needs to open their mouths without thinking, or to be following some agenda. Just what is your ideology?

To think that some blog will open their books to you because you make unsupported accusations about independence is a whole lot more than arrogant. Yet, you trolls keep mouthing off, as if it might do you some good. It doesn’t. You see it as counterpoint. It isn’t. Come up with something provable, and not just in your head provable, and someone might listen.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, you don’t. You only need one thing. What they write.

Strictly speaking what they write isn’t the point – but neither is "knowing all their sources of finance".

The reality is that "independent" is not a well defined concept. Every outlet has some funding mechanism that might influence their attitude. However what matters is that there are a variety of voices and that they don’t all have the same bias.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Their funding”, lol. It is a business. They write articles for other companies to use as internal insight. However much they are paid, they would be the ones with the influence (by providing information, analysis, and ideas), or they would have their contract(s) cancelled.

Sure, they could be writing corporate yes-men blogs, but i don’t see how that would last, and it would run rather counter to the articles they write here. And this would be glaringly obvious to the clients.

-Paid for by a generous donation from Communist Regulator Guy and his Google Muslim lobby.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Survival Fund

That Boston Magazine article sounds like it was written by a PR person, who has been hired by, influenced by, or indoctrinated by Shiva. The description “…Techdirt, a digital water cooler for geeks…” tells me the author has not read this site much. I have never been called a geek, though some may have thought of me as such. I am hardly qualified to ascend to that rarefied accolation.

It did make me think about a few questions. If someone using EMAIL tried to send me an email at my Google account, would they be able to? Or is it a proprietary system that only works with other proprietary clients? Does it use the @ sign?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Survival Fund

That was… wow. Gotta admit though, some good schadenfreude from some parts of that, and the comment section seemed pretty split between what I hope were paid shills(seriously, including the link in every comment? Who does that in an actual comment?) and people gleefully tearing the claims to pieces.

Jeff (user link) says:

Re: Survival Fund

(I donated $100 early this morning.)

I had not seen the Boston Magazine article before. Thanks for posting the link. One tidbit that I’ve seen repeated throughout all of Shiva’s misinformation is that early e-mail adaptations (other than his) were “text only”. (As if this somehow diminishes all of the other prior work on e-mail?)
I did some research into uuencode (the predecessor to MIME) and found that its first appearance was in BSD 4.0 (released in 1980). Now obviously Shiva had nothing to do with the invention of uuencode or its adoption for sending binary e-mails (and USENET posts). He also had nothing to do with uuencode’s base-64 successor.
I hope this defamation lawsuit get lots of publicity, especially after Shiva suffers a humiliating defeat. He should not get away with claiming exclusive credit for the work of hundreds of better men (and women).

Anonymous Coward says:

The inevitable outcome

You are all quite right that TechDirt and Masnick have made many enemies over the years (and with good reason). His opinions are very left wing and anti-inventor, and in many cases, the sources he cites are phony (and he knows it). This law suit is just the first of many he deserves. The pendulum of legal and public opinion is now swinging back towards respect and appreciation for inventors and their inventions. Masnick is not an attorney, his legal opinions are not educated opinions, as he is about to find out. Even if he “wins”, his current opponent will have the funds to appeal, and future opponents have seen his defense in advance, making future suits that much more potent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The inevitable outcome

You are all quite right that TechDirt and Masnick have made many enemies over the years (and with good reason). His opinions are very left wing and anti-inventor, and in many cases, the sources he cites are phony (and he knows it). This law suit is just the first of many he deserves.

You just admitted that the suit is all about Mike expressing is opinions.

future opponents have seen his defense in advance

Yeah, that defense being "truth". Something your side doesn’t much seem to know how to deal with.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The inevitable outcome

Oh yeah, he’s so desperate to hide it he went out of his way to write an entire article about it. You know, this one, maybe you missed it in your hurry to educate the masses?

Seriously, that? You lot are still bringing that up as your ‘smoking gun’? You are aware that it’s been brought up before and shown to be bunk, right?

Google was ordered to list anyone who had ever had any financial tie to them and had commented on the case at hand, and even that document list the ‘tie’ between Mike/TD and Google as indirect, through a group that Google is a part of and that had commissioned studies from Floor64 in the past.

(Fun fact: If doing so means he’s a ‘shill’ for Google, he would also be a shill for ‘…Microsoft, eBay, Sprint, Facebook, AMD, Fujitsu, Dish Networks and more’, including Oracle, the opposition in the case.)

Would you like to try again?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 "I reject your reality and substitute my own!"

You are aware that people can read right? As in they can easily read the filing and note that it’s not even remotely close to what you claim it is? In particular, when Google asserts under penalty of perjury that they didn’t pay anyone to write or comment about the case, I think I’m going to believe them over some AC making the same wild accusations as have been thrown about before.

That ‘reality’ thing you seem to have an issue with isn’t quite as easy to change as you seem to think it is, simply repeating a lie isn’t enough to make it true.

As a side note, if you’re setting the bar that low, I’m curious, who are you ‘whoring’ for? Who owns your statements and is using you as a PR mouthpiece? Someone has paid you in the past for your work I’m guessing, and if that’s all it takes to be a ‘whore’ for a company obviously someone owns you as well, and I’m curious as to who it is you’re representing when you comment here?

I.T. Guy says:

Re: The inevitable outcome

“The inevitable outcome
You are all quite right that TechDirt and Masnick have made many enemies over the years (and with good reason). His opinions are very left wing and anti-inventor, and in many cases, the sources he cites are phony (and he knows it). This law suit is just the first of many he deserves. The pendulum of legal and public opinion is now swinging back towards respect and appreciation for inventors and their inventions. Masnick is not an attorney, his legal opinions are not educated opinions, as he is about to find out. Even if he “wins”, his current opponent will have the funds to appeal, and future opponents have seen his defense in advance, making future suits that much more potent.”

R…O…F…L!!!!! Yeah… k brah. Cool story, tell it again.

Ayyadurai??? Is that you???

“and in many cases, the sources he cites are phony”
Citations? Maybe? Support your claims with examples.

That IS you Ayyadurai. LOL!!!

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 The inevitable outcome

Appealing a dismissal is not the same thing as appealing a suit that’s been dismissed, but I grant "appeal a suit that’s been dismissed" are my words, not his. It’s possible I misunderstood what he was referring to when he said "appeal".

Still and all, while I appreciate your link, it doesn’t exactly apply to anti-SLAPP law in California. I can’t find anything offhand about plaintiffs appealing SLAPP dismissals; do you have any references for that?

TechDescartes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 The inevitable outcome

"Appealing a dismissal is not the same thing as appealing a suit that’s been dismissed." Any difference in those phrasings is imagined, not real.

Just like with other dismissals, plaintiffs appeal Anti-SLAPP dismissals all the time. The Ninth Circuit decided one such appeal, Simoni v. American Media, just last month. Do they win the appeal? Rarely. But does that stop them? Rarely.

The Logician says:

This place, Techdirt, is important in many ways and for many reasons. It stands as a beacon of free speech and a defender of the Constitution and the rights it protects for us against those who would abuse or destroy them. For this reason, I have added my financial support to this cause and encourage others to do likewise. To remain silent in a time of need is to succumb to apathy, and one cannot claim to care for the rights and freedoms cherished here if one does not act when the time comes to do so.

The attacks by certain individuals here do not surprise me, as vultures always circle when they feel the time to feed is near. I would point out, however, that that time may not be as close as they think. Techdirt has a very strong and logical case with large amounts of supporting data to support their defense. They are not finished yet, and those who would like them to be so would be wise to remember that.

You have built a great thing here, Mike, and I do not believe it will go down easily or swiftly. Those of us who appreciate what you and the others who work with you have done are here, and we are with you and support you. The voice of this place must not be silenced, and we who value it will do what we can to ensure that does not happen. May both you and this place live long and prosper, and continue to be a light in the darkness, as you always have been.

My_Name_Here says:

Re: Re:

yet, as a beacon of “free speech” it censors and manipulates it’s own comment section to shut out voices it doesn’t like to hear. It’s a beacon only because you don’t know all the dirty little secrets on how Techdirt wraps itself in the free speech flag and then stamps on those who dare to question it.

The light in the darkness has more than a few filters on it. It’s actually shameful.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

Tell me, do you also believe that spam filters are ‘censorship’? Because that, not ‘delaying comments they do not like’ is the reason some comments get held in moderation, certain IP addresses are marked as spam and everything from them gets held up until they’re checked and confirmed not to be spam.

You can drop the conspiracy theory/persecution complex, it’s really as simple as that.

(Things get even funnier if the comment is posted by one of those that believe that sites should be held liable for the comments of their users, as they’re just getting a best case scenario taste of what that sort of thing would result in.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

Spam filters my butt. Techdirt sends certain people’s comments to moderation based mostly on the cookie system and session tracking. It has nothing to do with spam, and everything to do with shutting up those who don’t toe the party line.

Search google, you will find people talking about it. Its like labelling everything you don’t like as fake news.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

In which case clearing their cookies should fix that matter right up, and like that the nefarious List has been bested. It’s almost cute though that you think TD cares so very much about the comments from random people that they would go out of their way to create a system to delay(not prevent) comments from those people being posted.

As for ‘toeing the party line’, yeah, there’s been many a commentor that disagreed to various degrees with what was posted and yet didn’t have their comment(s) moderated or even flagged as ‘abusive/trolling/spam’ enough that a single mouse click was enough to reveal their comment(s).

In fact we’ve got several people in this very comment section who you could argue aren’t ‘toeing the party line’ and yet there their comments are, plain to see. Funny that, perhaps they haven’t been added to The List yet?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

There are a cimbination of things at play. Techdirt sets a number of cookies and also may be collecting information to make it easier ti bkock certain posters.

They will deny it up and down, but it is a fact. People that techdirt doesn’t like have a very hard time getting a timely post in.

You can disagree with the concepts if you do it gently. Call out the ideas as silly often enough and boom, you are grey listed never to return in any meaningful way. Techdirt uses their moderation as an excuse to delay speech, ti deny speech, and to keeo people out if the duscyssion that they do not like.

Its a fact. You mught nit like it, but its a fact.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

If you’re going to say ‘it’s a fact’ then providing some evidence to support that ‘fact’ would probably help.

Evidence that demonstrates that it’s more than the spam filter catching comments and requiring them to be manually cleared mind, as between ‘spam filter’ and ‘nefarious plot to silence dissent’ Occam’s Razor is pretty clear which is more likely.

While you’re at it perhaps explain why, if TD cares so much to set up a filter for ‘Divisive Persons’ they allow those comments to be posted at all, when it would be far easier to just block them entirely.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

Blocking them entirety outright would put them in the position if censoring posts completely. By putting the comments into a moderation queue and letting some of them pass well after the discussions are over allows them to retain the high moral ground, all the while laughing at those trapped in the moderation amber.

Calling it a spam filter is an alternate fact. Used in this manner their spam filters are instead a censirship tool.

How would you feel if each of your posts was held a couple of days before getting posted?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

How would you feel if each of your posts was held a couple of days before getting posted?

I think I’d feel like there was a big wide internet out there and plenty of other sites for me to comment on, not to mention plenty of other ways and places to discuss Techdirt posts if I was intent on doing so.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

Ah, I see, so TD is evil enough to frustrate some people by leaving their comment in limbo until they get to it, but not quite evil enough to just delete them entirely. Yes, makes perfect sense, truly Machiavellian.

So… no evidence then of anything more nefarious than what I’ve already said regarding a spam filter and how some IP addresses get caught up in it? Likely due to being marked as ‘abusive/trolling/spam’ enough times by other commentors/visitors that the filters just assume that it’s so and treat it accordingly? Or using something like Tor which (to the best of my knowledge) always results in a comment being held? Just more assertions that it happens and you somehow know exactly why?

Regarding the ‘How would you feel…’, as a matter of fact I have had some of my comments caught by the system, and from what I’ve seen and experienced unless the comment is made during the weekend TD is generally quick to clear them, so ‘a couple of days’? Not so much.

(As an aside, your comment reminded me of something I mentioned in my first reply during this back and forth, and just out of curiosity, what’s your stance on sites being responsible for user comments/submissions?)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

I think that sites should be in some ways responsible for what appears in their publication. Accepting outside comments and publishing them without review should create some peril. Overbroad application of safe harbours creates a mentality that i think encourages over the top comments and abusive stuff.

As for the rest, I xan say that my experience mirrors others… no tor, no vpn, a direct connection and every post goes to moderation. Change ip same result. Change ip and browser, and it might work.

Modern 4g networks make it easier to avoid such blocks. Its the only way i post now, can’t wait to see a whole country worth of ip addresses getting blocked to shut me up again.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

Ah, well in that case you don’t really have any grounds to complain then, as I noted above you’re experiencing the best case scenario that would result from what you think should happen.

As such, even if it was something more than a simple issue with the spam filter(which you have yet to demonstrate) you’re merely getting to enjoy what, according to your opinion, everyone should have to go through.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

I think that sites should be in some ways responsible for what appears in their publication. Accepting outside comments and publishing them without review should create some peril.

 

I, for one, am glad that Congress and the courts don’t share your view.

Without protection against liability for third-party comments you would have very few places to share that view and even fewer places to actually have a discussion about it. Comment sections, like this one, would not exist because it wouldn’t be worth the risk.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

If my comments were libelous or incited hate, you would have a leg to stand on. Not agreeing with me and flagging posts or stopping comments is censorship.

Knowing the difference is key. Too many people here flag comments because they don’t agree, rather than the comment being libelous, racist, or containing hate speech. That discourages open and free duscussion, which Techdirt claims is most important.

My_Name_Here says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

If you would pay attention…

The idea of clicking to block a comment not because it’s spam but because you don’t like it (don’t agree) is a form of censorship. The comment is still there, just subject to a form of tamping down similar to a Trump crowd beating up a Hillary supporter. It stops or limits a form of free speech, that of expressing an opinion people don’t like.

My comment (number 45 or so in this discussion) was posted on Friday the 18th, but only made visible on the 21st. That is a form of censorship. My comment is not spam, it is not abusive, it just expresses my opinion. My comments are stopped or delayed because those that are in charge don’t like them. I tend to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

Using the report flag to hide a comment because you don’t like it is abusive, stupid, and it really tramps on the free speech of others. It also makes it harder for others to see the comment, which is the very essence of censorship. That Techdirt has and uses these tools to suppress free speech is perhaps the ultimate in irony. I hope that one day (before going broke) Mike and his staff really consider the implications of their choices and come to realize that it’s really against their own moral stands.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

The idea of clicking to block a comment not because it’s spam but because you don’t like it (don’t agree) is a form of censorship.

It’s not censorship. It’s just the community showing you they don’t necessarily agree with you.

 

The comment is still there, just subject to a form of tamping down similar to a Trump crowd beating up a Hillary supporter.

Not even close. Your rights are not being violated whatsoever. Nobody is required to provide you an equal platform for your speech.

 

It stops or limits a form of free speech, that of expressing an opinion people don’t like.

It does neither. Your speech is still there. And to be honest, I believe it actually promotes your comment to some degree. I always click on hidden comments just to see why they were hidden.

 

My comment (number 45 or so in this discussion) was posted on Friday the 18th, but only made visible on the 21st.

Your comment was caught in the spam filter and was released on the first day following a three day weekend. Nothing nefarious there.

 

My comments are stopped or delayed because those that are in charge don’t like them.*

I have to call bullshit on this claim unless to can show some proof, Sparky. If you really want to have less comments get caught, create an account. You can still be as anonymous as you want. But of course, you probably won’t do this because your comment history would be available to anyone wanting to point out any hypocrisy between comments you make.

 

Using the report flag to hide a comment because you don’t like it is abusive, stupid, and it really tramps on the free speech of others.*

I will agree that flagging comments just because you disagree with them is a bit childish, but I do not agree it tramps on anyone’s free speech at all. The comments are still there and you are still provided a platform to voice your dissenting opinions. Now if Techdirt didn’t allow or removed dissenting comments, like say, The Trichodist does, you’d have a valid point.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

Taking speech and making it less visible in any manner impinges on free speech. If a some comments are freely seen and others require a special or additional effort, then the two are not equal. The purpose of people clicking the report flag isn’t to stop spam, but rather to tamp down an opinion they don’t like. That is the very core of censorship.

As for moderation, having an account doesn’t seem to change much, and in all appearances makes it easier to filter comments into moderation. Having comments appeat days after a discussion has run its course is by nature a firm of censorship, making a comment or opinion nearly irrelevant. Techdirt adds nearly a page of stories and pronotional posts a day, and it’s rare that discussions last much past the first few pages. Delaying comments until that time is passed really harms free speech.

Remember, techdirt is a bastion of free speech and this whole discussion centers around it. For me, the site and company should hold themselves to as high or higher a standard than the hold others to. Obstructing, delaying, or making it harder to view opinions you don’t agree with us the very basis of censorship that TD fights. Why not start at home?

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

I think that sites should be in some ways responsible for what appears in their publication. Accepting outside comments and publishing them without review should create some peril.

Do you realize that what you’re suggesting is that Google should have to actively check every single site that it indexes?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

Hey now, Google is a big company, filled with smart people, I’ve no doubt that they absolutely could, with 100% accuracy, spot and delist any problematic or illegal sites/pages and remove them from their search results.

The only reason they don’t of course is because they’re too cheap and irresponsible to do so, not wanting to uphold their legal obligations by independently searching out and removing sites/pages that infringe on copyrights, and/or mean things people say.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:10 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

Thats a pretty silly post. You have to work harder than Ann Coulter to be misunderstanding sometging that much.

There is a huge difference between disagreeable speech and illegal speech. What is truly illegal is a very small and narrow band of things. Calling someone an idiot isn’t one of those things.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:11 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

There is a huge difference between disagreeable speech and illegal speech. What is truly illegal is a very small and narrow band of things. Calling someone an idiot isn’t one of those things.

I have no idea what relevance that has to my comment, could you explain?

Nobody is suggesting they need to be judge and jury on every link.

In which case you might want to clarify your position, because this

I think that sites should be in some ways responsible for what appears in their publication. Accepting outside comments and publishing them without review should create some peril.

… would seem to suggest that you think that sites should be liable if they don’t review every user submitted piece of content before allowing it to be posted, are you saying that Google and similar services should not be similarly liable, and if so how are you determining what sites/services should be liable and which should not?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:12 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

I was address comments and not search results. There is at least some differences on sourcing. Google and others already do take steps not to index certain material, and are prompt to remove it when alerted.

For comment streams and chat boards i think the issue is much more about how things are handled when notified of a problem comment or entry. While the site may not have written it, they are publishing it, and do have control over its publication. Overbroad section 230 protections mwans that a site can publish defamatory comments with any risk or any legal responsibility to deal with them. Moreover they also act as a protection for those who make the comments as tgeir id is protected.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:13 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

While the site may not have written it, they are publishing it, and do have control over its publication.

According to an odd definition of ‘publishing’ perhaps. Is someone who puts up a physical board that people can tack messages and fliers on without the owner of the board pre-checking those messages for example considered the ‘publisher’ of whatever is placed? A site that allows user submitted content is essentially doing the same thing, putting up a ‘board’ where people can leave comments and/or content without the owner of the board vetting each submission beforehand.

Arguing that sites should be considered liable for what their users post is like saying that the state should be liable for drivers that use their roads. Either can, should they desire, revoke the ability to use ‘their stuff’, and when the user/driver misbehaves the correct target to go after is the user/driver, not the one who owns the site/road.

Overbroad section 230 protections mwans that a site can publish defamatory comments with any risk or any legal responsibility to deal with them.

Host, not publish, and yeah, not holding sites liable for the actions of their users is a feature, not a bug.

Given the alternative, where holding sites responsible for the actions of others would lead to mass chilling of speech as most sites and services would shut prohibit user submitted content at all to avoid possible legal liability, I’d say that’s an acceptable ‘risk’. It may suck a bit for those that want to have something removed and they have to jump through a few more hoops to find out who posted it instead of going after the site, but that’s just the ‘cost’ required for a system that allows user submitted content.

Moreover they also act as a protection for those who make the comments as tgeir id is protected.

Not really.

(I’m not a lawyer so some of the details of the following might be off, but as far as I’m aware it should be roughly accurate. If I botch something and anyone who does know the applicable law reads this feel free to step in and offer corrections though.)

Go to court, convince a judge that the comment is defamatory and that they have good odds to win in court on those grounds.

Take the ruling to the site and ask for the identification details of the poster in order name them in the lawsuit.

If the site has that information and you have what they believe to be a valid court order, odds are they’ll provide the information.

If the sites refuses or says ‘We don’t have that info’ go back to court, get default judgement on defamation claim ordering removal of the content in question and take that back to the site.

Just because you may not be able to go after the original poster, it does not follow that the site should be liable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:14 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

How do you know that the post was from someone else and not the site owner? Perhaps one if the staff?

Section 230 combined with anonymous posting leaves few legal options. That sites could post and repost the same materual and claim it is from a new user waxh time creates real issyes.

The pin biard wxample is perfect. A store allows free for sale ads and stuff, but doesn’t monitir it. Wheb someone likks the ads are all for dryds and hookers. If the store does nothinf about it, do they becone conspirators in these crimes?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:15 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

How do you know that the post was from someone else and not the site owner? Perhaps one if the staff?

Section 230 combined with anonymous posting leaves few legal options. That sites could post and repost the same materual and claim it is from a new user waxh time creates real issyes.

And now you’re moving into conspiracy theory territory based upon wild speculations of ‘what could happen’.

Sure something like that could happen, but 230 wouldn’t do squat there because if it did then 230 wouldn’t apply, as it only covers content not made by those that run the site.

You might say that 230 would still apply and shield them because you couldn’t prove that the site owner was the one reposting the content, in which case that’s still working as intended. Even in that case, where the site owner is the one posting the content unless you can prove it holding them accountable is still punishing a party that as far as the evidence is concerned isn’t responsible.

As for the ‘no legal options’, no, unless you want to claim that what I posted above about ‘take it to court and then take that to the site’ is wrong, then it’s hardly the case that 230 doesn’t leave any legal options, it just narrows them to the responsible party, the one who posted the content. If you can’t find them then back to court to try and go after the site directly, and if that’s an uphill battle then that’s just too bad, the alternative is worse.

The pin biard wxample is perfect. A store allows free for sale ads and stuff, but doesn’t monitir it. Wheb someone likks the ads are all for dryds and hookers. If the store does nothinf about it, do they becone conspirators in these crimes?

Not as far as I know, and the searches I just did didn’t find anything either way, though the law as regards to physical message boards might differ from digital ones so it’s possible.

However, while a physical message board might be similar to a digital one at the level of ‘Owner posts the board/site, allows content without vetting’, there are some significant differences that would justify a difference in how the law treats the two, with scope being the main one.

A standard physical message board is likely to contain a few dozen messages at most, and requires people to physically go to it, further decreasing the number of people that have access to it. Contrast this to a site, which can have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of posts on a regular basis.

If a site had to worry about being responsible for any that ‘slipped through’ most of them wouldn’t even bother, resulting in a massive chilling of speech, causing vastly more damage than would be prevented.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

Out of the current trolls, let’s see who has “never returned”. out_of_the_blue, darryl, Technopolitical, Ronald J. Riley. The first three are incoherent and openly antagonistic, the last one spams links to his website over and over while whining about Newegg.

These are the bastions of intellectualism you want to prop up on a pedestal?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

Spam filters my butt. Techdirt sends certain people’s comments to moderation based mostly on the cookie system and session tracking. It has nothing to do with spam, and everything to do with shutting up those who don’t toe the party line.

I see. Like they did with your’s there?

Search google, you will find people talking about it.

Search Google and you can find people who say the Earth is flat too.

The Logician says:

Re: Re: Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

As has been pointed out by That One Guy, what you perceive as censorship is merely spam filters working to keep the comments section clear of things that need not be there. As any post that is hidden can be easily viewed with a single click, that clearly indicates that there is no censorship here. Censorship only applies when one can no longer access what was said, which is never the case here. I would suggest you educate yourself on the actual meaning of the term before commenting further.

Cowardly Lion says:

Re: Re: Re: Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

I had a slightly different issue than the spam filters – I used to access Techdirt via ToR and many times my comments would be yellow ticketed i.e. held back for moderation. As I sat and pondered over this I came to realize that Techdirt must also be filtering on ip address (the ToR end-relays are publicly listed) because, and I’m guessing (but I bet I’m right), they see a lot of spam coming over ToR.

As others have said, non of this is censorship but common-sense site management.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Response to: The Logician on Feb 19th, 2017 @ 9:54am

Here’s something you might not have grasped. Whenever articles about copyright infringement pop up on Techdirt, you devil’s advocates enjoy gloating about how “if you abuse your toys, they get taken away”.

It’s the same way with any public forum. Be enough of a dick and you get your access removed.

In fact, right now you’re attempt to circumvent this supposed ban – which, according to your definition of the CFAA, is illegal and liable to get you treated like Aaron Swartz, whose suicide you cheered on.

What is it about the boot on your own foot that you do not understand?

uRspqF7L (profile) says:

good for you

i am not a big fan of Mike or Techdirt, but Ayyadurai is a ludicrous figure who has always been afraid to go after the real claims against him, and I’m glad to see a variety of folks joining with Techdirt to stand up to him here. I think Ayyadurai is finally going to get his head handed to him, which he deserves 100000x over. I am glad about the SLAPP suits and so on because now it makes it harder for Ayyadurai to withdraw his own suit, which I expect he has to do before the case goes to trial, as he has no case at all. Money can buy you a lot of things, but this case is so laser-sharp that as long as enough folks are willing to stand with Mike, I don’t think Ayyadurai can actually buy himself a victory, and the loss he suffers will make it impossible for him to keep trying to sell his own brand of alternative fact to the world (also, check out his appearances on Infowars if you are at all inclined to take him seriously: he is a 100% charlatan, except for the piece of software he created, which was certainly a piece of software, but nothing close to the first of anything).

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Still Around

I don’t log in much anymore, or make anywhere near the comments I used to make years back, but I still review every single article that TD posts as well as completely read roughly half of them. Threw in some money to the fund. TD deserves it. Hopefully you beat that worthless human being in court. This site is just as important as it was when I started reading it to keeping us up to date on a host of topics. Best of luck friends.

Anonymous Coward says:

email- store and forward messaging system

Email as we know it is is a store and forward messaging system… we generate a message and it is stored on a system until retrieved. Historically a store and forward messaging system was developed for the US Air Force in 1958 by a team of Western Union, RCA and IBM. This original system was named the Common Logistics Network (ComLogNet) as development was underway it became obvious that there were wider applications for a store and froward messaging system and the project was transferred to the Defense Communications Agency in 1962 and was renamed the Automatic Digital Network or AUTODIN which became operational in March 1968 an this system remained in operation until the late 1990’s

My_Name_Here says:

“If the sites refuses or says ‘We don’t have that info’ go back to court, get default judgement on defamation claim ordering removal of the content in question and take that back to the site.”

Congrats, you just whacked a mole. Oh look, there is another one. A default judgement is an empty act, it proves that 230 protections are in the end an elimination of all responsibility for everyone involved, and not just the site. Unfair as hell!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No, ‘unfair as hell’ would be blaming a site for what their users do because a) you’re too lazy to go after the user, or b) you can’t find them.

‘It’s too hard/much work to do it right’ does not give you the right to place the burden on someone else and screw everyone over in the process.

Put bluntly, the free speech rights, including anonymity(something which you yourself are taking advantage of), of the public far outweigh the hurt feelings/reputations(justified or not) of the individuals that might find themselves at a dead-end because even after going through the song and dance of court the most they can get is the removal of one or a few posts at a time.

The cost to prevent anonymous people saying mean things by requiring site to pre-screen everything is a cost far too high, causing real and significant harm for a comparatively insignificant amount of gain, so while it may suck for those frustrated by being told ‘No, you are not in fact allowed to sue the site because someone who uses it said something mean/bad’, that’s just too bad for them.

lawyer ben (profile) says:

Donated. First time / long time as I have read your blog religiously for many years. You reported on Prenda long after others grew tired and (I think) was a direct result in the arrests.

I’m also ashamed to admit I did not care about Gawker. While I knew their free speech rights were violated, it was like whether Neo-Nazis should be allowed to march in Skokie. This is a classic “first they came for…”

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...