Indian Publishing Firm Can't Take A Little Criticism, Threatens Blogger With $1 Billion Lawsuit, Criminal Charges

from the how-not-to-make-a-threat dept

Here's a fun one via Popehat. Apparently an Indian publishing firm by the name of OMICS can't take some criticism from a blogger. The blogger, Jeffrey Beall, who is based in the US, has a blog called Scholarly Open Access (he's also a librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver) in which he reviews and critiques various open access programs. As we've discussed, open access is really important for the sharing of knowledge -- but not all open access programs are created equal. In fact, there are serious complaints about many of them. Beall had some choice words for some of OMICS practices, which he claimed involved spamming and bait-and-switch. For what it's worth, Beall is hardly the only one to question OMICS' tactics. The Chronicle of Higher Education discussed OMICS in an article about "predatory" open access journals. As The Chronicle explains:
In 2012, The Chronicle found that the group was listing 200 journals, but only about 60 percent had actually published anything.
OMICS' response to Beall is almost too incredible to be believed, but it threatened to sue Beall for $1 billion and seek criminal penalties as well. Yes, billion with a b -- so insert your Dr. Evil jokes here. Oh, if you're asking under what law?
In India, Section 66A of the Information Technology Act makes it illegal to use a computer to publish "any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character" or to publish false information. The punishment can be as much as three years in prison.
As Ken White points out, the SPEECH Act clearly protects Beall from any ruling in India. We've been waiting for the first attempt to see that law used to protect someone from some insane foreign claim. If you don't recall, the SPEECH Act says that the US will not recognize foreign civil rulings over speech that would violate US law, such as the First Amendment.

Similarly, criminal charges would be meaningless, because any attempt at extradition to India would require dual criminality -- such that the acts would be criminal in both countries. That's clearly not true here (and it's debatable if they're actually criminal in either country).

Amazingly, when asked about this whole thing by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the lawyer representing OMICS, Ashok Ram Kumar, a lawyer with the firm IP Markets, appeared to double down on the threats and insist that he was "very serious" (TM), though various lawyers are a bit more skeptical of that.
"What he has written is something highly inappropriate," Mr. Kumar said. "He should not have done something like this. He has committed a criminal offense."

While Mr. Kumar said he and his client are "very serious" about the $1-billion amount, Jonathan Bloom, a lawyer with Weil, Gotshal & Manges, in New York, said it seemed more like a publicity stunt. "Sometimes people just want to puff their chests, indicate their reputation, and try to intimidate people that criticize them," Mr. Bloom said.
One thing that is clear, however, is that any company that would send out such a ridiculous threat over a blog criticism isn't a company worth trusting. Whether or not they spam and engage in bait and switch or other predatory practices, we do know with certainty that they send out insane legal threats. That's enough information necessary to decide that OMICS is not a company worth supporting.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2013 @ 12:39pm

    because a million is so 1966 >.>

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2013 @ 12:52pm

    "He has committed a criminal offense."

    Let's all get some frickin sharks with some lazer beams and hold everyone in the world who says something we don't like ransom for $1 Billion dollars!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, May 17th, 2013 @ 12:54pm

    Template hit! Anomaly, lawsuit, won't ever affect anyone else.

    Mike loves the trivial crap. I don't.

    So here's a far better topic that DOES affect everyone:

    Congress: It's not the Glass that's scary - It's the GOOGLE

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/17/google_glass_privacy/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Template hit! Anomaly, lawsuit, won't ever affect anyone else.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised that you are wanting for Mike to sue you for $1 billion dollars for your comments. lol

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 17th, 2013 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Template hit! Anomaly, lawsuit, won't ever affect anyone else.

    I found the article interesting. I find you annoying. But all in all, I trust congress less then Google lately.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    madasahatter (profile), May 17th, 2013 @ 2:51pm

    Streisand Effect

    Do shyster Kumar and OMICS know about the Streisand Effect? I never heard of either OMICS or Scholarly Open Access until recently becuase of shyster Kumar.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Nimas, May 17th, 2013 @ 3:35pm

    Just once I'd like to see the report

    Go something like this:

    "While Mr. Kumar said he and his client are "very serious" about the $1-billion amount, Jonathan Bloom, a lawyer with Weil, Gotshal & Manges, in New York, said "HAHAHAHAHAHAH, hahah, hah, oh wow, that's a good one. Oh wait, they're actually serious...heh...ok. Mr Kumar....no, just no."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Jules, May 17th, 2013 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Template hit! Anomaly, lawsuit, won't ever affect anyone else.

    You love to comment on every move of the writer, even when he comments on stuff "too trivial" for you. You are the saddest troll I have ever seen anywhere.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    DP, May 18th, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Template hit! Anomaly, lawsuit, won't ever affect anyone else.

    If OOTB doesn't like the "trivial crap", the answer is very simple. He doesn't have to read it. In fact, the best thing he can do is to never read anything else again - ever! We would not then have to put up with his inane (substitute "insane" perhaps?) and totally ineffectual comments. It's about time he crawled back into whatever hole he emerged from on the first place, never to be heard of again (hopefully). I can only conclude that he must get some sort of twisted masochistic pleasure by being reported so many times and being slagged off by all and sundry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), May 18th, 2013 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Re: Template hit! Anomaly, lawsuit, won't ever affect anyone else.

    You're assuming he reads the articles in the first place, which I'm fairly sure he doesn't do, as it would 'waste' the time he could spend ranting about the articles, the site, Mike, the color of grass, or whatever has his attention at the moment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2013 @ 11:37pm

    Re: Template hit! Anomaly, lawsuit, won't ever affect anyone else.

    And yet here you are, obsessing as usual.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 18th, 2013 @ 11:42pm

    Re: Template hit! Anomaly, lawsuit, won't ever affect anyone else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2013 @ 1:08am

    Re:

    I'm just waiting for the inevitable $1 bazillion lawsuits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    nasch (profile), May 19th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    Order 66

    In India, Section 66A of the Information Technology Act makes it illegal to use a computer to publish "any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character" or to publish false information.

    "Execute Order 66."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Niall (profile), May 20th, 2013 @ 6:37am

    Re: Order 66

    So if you type your Zip/Post code wrong, or mis-spell a name, you're a criminal? Excellent!

    Now, just look for politicians publishing 'false' information...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Jeanne A. Pawitan (profile), Jan 18th, 2014 @ 5:13am

    web war is better than lawsuit

    In my opinion, a lawsuit won't work.
    About Mr Beall's list, some parts are true, as there are many predatory journals, but there are also a lot that do not deserve to be in his list.
    Mr Beall disseminated his list via website, so, publishers that feel inappropriately judged by Mr beall should counter-attack via web site also.

    I tried to paste websites like this into Mr beall's website, but unfortunately they are removed, instead of defending himself. This make me think that all this counter-webs contain true information, and Mr Beall does not want that the whole world know about his crime.

    Therefore, in my opinion, publishers that feel unfairly judged by Mr. Beall, can publish bad facts about Mr Beall in websites. Doing website-war will be more fruitful than a lawsuit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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