The Latest On Shiva Ayyadurai's Failed Libel Suit Against Techdirt

from the round-two dept

We have a quick update today on the defamation lawsuit that Shiva Ayyadurai filed against us earlier this year. Last month, Judge Dennis Saylor dismissed the lawsuit, pointing out that everything we said concerning Ayyadurai’s claim to have invented email (specifically us presenting lots and lots of evidence of email predating Shiva’s own work) was clearly protected speech under the First Amendment. Unfortunately, despite us being a California corporation, Judge Saylor did not grant our separate motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP law — which would have required Ayyadurai to pay our legal fees.

Two weeks ago, Ayyadurai notified the court that he was appealing the dismissal, which we will defend against in court, and we are confident that we will prevail once again. On top of that, today, we’ve notified the court that we are cross-appealing the decision to reject our motions to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP law. We have argued in court that this is an obvious SLAPP lawsuit — an attempt by the plaintiff, a self-proclaimed public figure, to try to silence detailed, evidence-based criticism of his claims. We believe that the court improperly applied choice of law principles on which state’s anti-SLAPP law should apply, and we look forward to making our case before the 1st Circuit appeals court on why California’s anti-SLAPP law is the proper law to apply. We’ll provide more updates as the appeals progress.

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Comments on “The Latest On Shiva Ayyadurai's Failed Libel Suit Against Techdirt”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Harder is a lawyer/promoter and therefore he has access to a lot more control over his finances (he can pay himself whatever he feels like) and has access to alternative sources of capital to keep on keeping on.

This case will be running as far as Harder can keep it running unless he feels threatened by severe sanctions. If the appeals court doesn’t slaps him down into a hole of no appeals, expect the suit to run for as long as possible to economically deter others from taking him on in court.

Harder is an extreme litigant (which is a very fast growing crop in all kinds of law!). If he can drain the opposing party of as much money as possible (while doing as little work as possible to keep the case going!), it is more valuable than a win for his reputation…

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

He might have access to cash, but putting up with Shiva has to be very taxing.

This isn’t a winnable case, the Judge painfully went into detail about why it wouldn’t fly. Harder might want to cement his position of being the goto guy to shut up people who bad mouth you, but he has a horrible client who is making things worse.

At some point he’ll cut his losses on this one, sometimes you back the wrong “dark-skinned low caste” horse in the race.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Stick to the topic. You wanna talk about Harvey you're so bad, best I ever had, in a world gone mad.

No, E. That Anonymous Coward said, “Gee won’t Harder be to busy to focus on this ridiculous case now that he’s going to sue the NYT?”

“He” in that sentence is Harder, not Ayyadurai. Harder is representing Harvey Weinstein in a lawsuit against the New York Times.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Stick to the topic. You wanna talk about Harvey go to a forum that discusses him.

Yes, I know. But That Anonymous Coward suggested that Harder wouldn’t want to keep dealing with Shiva because Shiva is "a horrible client who is making things worse."

Harvey Weinstein is relevant in responding to that point because Harder is currently representing him.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I have no comment on Weinsein yet, because I’ve not cared to learn about it yet.

Shiva is a self centered narcissist, who demands all attention be on him. Interacting with him would wear on the most polite people.

My comment was that Harder might be more focused on the NYT case, rather than the low caste dark skinned sad sack. Nothing about merits or whats happening, just commenting on seeing how Shiva behaves & lashes out.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

And my point is, what in Charles Harder’s career has given you the impression that he has any kind of problem with accepting narcissists as clients?

If he drops Shiva but continues to represent Harvey, that’s not the action of a guy who doesn’t want to deal with egomaniacs, it’s the action of a guy who went with the better payday.

But I don’t see why he wouldn’t stick with both. Billable hours are billable hours, and it’s not about presenting a good defamation case, because he can’t; it’s about intimidating journalists. (The Times suit isn’t really about the Times; the Times will do just fine. It’s about all the other, smaller outlets that might consider covering the Weinstein case, or any other story critical of somebody who’s rich and powerful. Techdirt’s already covered news sites passing on the R Kelly story out of fear they’d end up like Gawker.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

It’s difficult to answer that question without knowing more about both and coming to some agreement about what the criteria for “worse” are.

However…it should be blindingly obvious to everyone by now — if it wasn’t already — that delusional, egotistical, narcissistic, greedy people are usually not one-dimensional in their display of those attributes. For example: mass shooters quite often have a history of domestic violence. For example: the president is a misogynist, a pedophile, and a racist.

So whatever things we know about either of these men today are very likely only a subset of the things that there are to know. In other words, they’re likely more evil in more ways than we know. Not certainly: not definitely. But likely….because that’s the pattern that such people nearly always follow.

This raises the question “Why is Harder going out of his way to represent such vile people?” These are hardly the first two, and it’s not because he was a court-appointed public defender who didn’t have much of a choice. He CHOSE to represent them.


Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The farthest he can go is the Supreme Court so there is a non-financial limit. And if the success measure is money he met a very though foe because Techdirt has the community and other organizations that will support them financially. If Mike and the crew managed to get hold of the psychological component (the distress of being a target) the rest of the litigation will be easier.

I for one will try to keep helping as much as I can even if it’s just a little.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The farthest he can go is the Supreme Court so there is a non-financial limit.

For this case. Once he’s done with Techdirt, he can move on to suing the next website he thinks he can bully into silence.

If the First Circuit (or, hypothetically, the SCOTUS, though I really can’t imagine the case making it that far) reverses the anti-SLAPP ruling and applies California’s anti-SLAPP law, then at least that’ll make Shiva think long and hard about suing anybody else based in California, or anywhere else with strong anti-SLAPP statutes.

But I’m afraid Ayyadurai’s vendetta could keep on going well after the Techdirt suit is put to rest.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Delusional people don't give up easily

Shiva clearly believes that he invented email, that there’s a conspiracy to deny him that, and that it’s racially motivated. Delusional people don’t give up easily so it’s not surprising he filed an appeal. It costs him a small portion of what he extorted from Gawker.

Part of his delusional maniacal desire that the world recognize his genius for inventing EMAIL is because he is an ugly little boy born in a society that values caste, and he was of the lowest. His efforts since that, his lying under the guise of self-promotion (but is it lying if you believe it?) and his unwillingness to accept anything but his own made-up story… those are the signs of a sick mind.

I hope this ugly little boy gets the help he needs before all these losses in the courts make him realize just how little he has contributed, and how worthless he is, and what a fool he makes of himself, the Indian people, and the know-nothings (of tech) who support him.

It’s very sad. I pity him.


mcinsand (profile) says:

Re: At what point does Harder become liable?

An attorney is supposed to act as an officer of the court, which I would think would also require having some familiarity with the law and our legal framework. With so much documented evidence against his client’s claims, at what point would Harder become responsible for tying up the courts with bogus lawsuits?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Ayyadurai has made a big deal of his “low caste” status, as a way to bolster his “little guy against The Man” narrative. Echoing that back at him is crass and, yes, a little racist.

On the flip side, Ayyadurai has gone full tilt into anti-Semitic conspiracy theorism, so he’s also guilty of being a racist.

It’s ugly all the way down.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ayyadurai has made a big deal of his "low caste" status, as a way to bolster his "little guy against The Man" narrative. Echoing that back at him is crass and, yes, a little racist.

I’m not so sure about that, seems it’s more ‘returning the favor’. If someone’s going to claim that people can only be against them because they can’t stand the idea of a non-white having ‘invented’ something important(basically calling any critics racists), turning that around to rightly mock him with it seems like fair play.

Do I think people should avoid doing so(tempting as it may be to some)? Sure, but that’s primarily to avoid giving the little sleaze-bag more ‘Woe is me, I’m so oppressed’ ammo for his martyrdom complex.

That said I’m not sure how much any of that applies here, because I just went through the comments again (twice) and for the most part even ‘vaguely racist’ would seem to be stretching it, and that only on two comments, TACs. Given the quotes they used I’m guessing it was merely a case of using Shiva’s own words/ideas and turning it back on him, and as I noted above I don’t really see that as counting.

Dan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Both about his “low caste” status, and about his national/racial origin. The latter is particularly amusing–there are an awful damn lot of people of Indian extraction working in IT, and a good number of the tools and standards that are used throughout the industry were authored or co-authored by Indian individuals. The community has no trouble at all recognizing their work. The community doesn’t recognize Shiva’s claim because he’s lying, not because of his race or status.

The sad thing is that he can justly be proud of what he did accomplish–to have developed such an involved software package at such a young age is quite an accomplishment. But he isn’t satisfied with that, wanting instead to claim something he didn’t do. As a result, he’s a laughingstock among whoever knows anything about the relevant history.

MyNameHere (profile) says:

My opinion

…and only my opinion.

Your Anti-SLAPP thing will likely fail, as you are in the wrong jurisdiction. My guess is the judge will tell you that you should have filed for a change of venue to California (where, in theory, the publishing occurred). The state has no anti-SLAPP laws, so your appeal will likely be denied.

On the other side, it’s also likely his appeal will be denied. However, his one out in all of this is that the appeals court could rule that the judge dismissed on what should have been presented as evidence at trial, and the decision may have been too quick.

I don’t think he has much of a hope, it’s very small. You have more change with your anti-SLAPP, and that looks like a “wrong courtroom, sonny!” sort of a thing.

Dan (profile) says:

Re: My opinion

Your Anti-SLAPP thing will likely fail, as you are in the wrong jurisdiction.

It isn’t that simple; courts in one state apply the laws of other states all the time. How and when to do so is a complicated subject, and I’m not familiar with all the nuances that go into those determinations, but it’s definitely not as simple as "we don’t do that here."

Mike says that other circuits have held that the laws of the speaker’s jurisdiction (especially anti-SLAPP laws) are to be applied, but that the First Circuit hasn’t yet addressed that question. If that’s the case, it will be a good, and a fairly strong, argument to make.

MyNameHere says:

Re: Re: My opinion

I agree with you, but it’s not quite that simple.

First off, not all of the speech occurred or originated from California alone. Leigh is in Canada. Mike travels the world, and some or all of the posts in question could have been made from any of those places. Did Mike make all of the statements (and all of the comments later added) solely from a single location?

Techdirt also uses Cloudflare. The actual location of the servers or their appearance may be in question as well. Last I remember, they were not in California. For reference, Floor64 is hosted by Databank (formerly C7), in Salt Lake City if I am right. So then the question is WHICH anti-slapp law you want to use.

At this point, the law is incredibly vague on where computer speech actually occurs – does it occur the the speaker, the publishing location, or where that publication appears for the end user? In this case, there are three different outcomes depending on where the speech occurred. Throwing in the idea that Leigh wasn’t even in Canada, and you have a much more interesting question.

Like I said, I have a feeling that the answer may be “you should have filed a venue change first”. Accepting the venue may in fact be also accepting the rules in play.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: My opinion

On the other side, it’s also likely his appeal will be denied. However, his one out in all of this is that the appeals court could rule that the judge dismissed on what should have been presented as evidence at trial, and the decision may have been too quick.

Dan already covered the issue of state laws and which applies, so I’ll just focus on this part.

To say that he even has a small amount of hope is likely grossly overstating it given how the judge all but eviscerated his ‘argument’, pointing out that even taking everything at face value and in his favor, as is required in a motion to dismiss, he still didn’t have a case, as the speech in question was pretty obviously protected speech as statements of opinion(backed up by extensive citations and links), hyperbole and similar.

That his case couldn’t even survive a cursory glance by a judge, in a situation where the deck was stacked entirely in his favor just demonstrates how pathetically weak it was/is, and I would be extremely surprised if the appeals court didn’t simply affirm that part of the ruling(though I do hope they reverse the ‘california’s anti-SLAPP law doesn’t apply’ part, as a good financial penalty seems very much warranted here.)

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Beating a dead horse. Or Shiva ayyadurai. Same thing.

Shiva, who is running for US Senate against incumbent Elizabeth Warren, called her a fake Indian and said voters should vote for him, a “real” Indian.

This blatant racism comes from the guy who claims racism against him is why nobody believes his false claims about inventing email. It is another example of his lack of ethics and character.

The voters are responding appropriately. He’s running dead last with only 6% of the votes.


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