Techdirt's First Amendment Fight For Its Life

from the the-first-amendment-has-to-mean-something dept

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am beyond thankful to the many of you who have reached out and offered to help in all sorts of ways. It is heartening to know so many people care about Techdirt. At some point soon, we may set up a dedicated legal defense fund. But, in the meantime, any support you can provide us will help — whether it's just alerting people to this situation and the danger of trying to stifle a free press through meritless lawsuits, or it's supporting Techdirt directly (or, if you have a company, advertising with us). As always, you can support us directly as a Friend of Techdirt, or check out some of the other perks you can get in our Insider program. You can also support us via Patreon.

If freedom of expression and the press is to actually mean something, it needs to be protected, not stomped on with baseless lawsuits that silence independent voices and opinions.


Reader Comments

The First Word

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    Monday (profile), 13 Jan 2017 @ 7:30pm

    Re: I think you should go to Emergency 'No-Name'

    I think you should go to Emergency 'No-Name'... you invertebrate chest-pounding tard!

    Tillerson; Sessions; DeVos; Price; Mnuchin; Ross; Mattis; Carson; Kelly; Zinke; Perry; Priebus; Haley; McMahon; Pruitt; Flynn; Pompeo... most of these nutters won't get past the exams - that' means not graduating you dill-pickle fuck.

    No-Name, have you ever looked in the mirror and said to yourself, "Man, I am really fucked up..." 'cuz couz, you are really fucked up. Do you seriously believe that everything that has been fact checked ten thousand times over is Propaganda/Fake News/Outright Lies???

    I have spoke with Alt-Right members, and I was wondering what your alt-right defenders are saying. Do your Alt-Right buddies talk about No Wall? Immigration proposals that will never take effect? Fuck Obama Care? Talk about a time when Women just stayed in the Kitchen and spoke when spoken to? Grabbed Beers when told to grab Beers? Talk on War like there is no consequences? Pretty much everything President Elect Trump has promised to the Alt-Right is never, NEVER going to happen. What do you think will happen when thirty-million people... Citizens find themselves suddenly with out Health Care?? How about that Pussy Grabbin' game? You know, reduce Women's Rights to the level that the Greeks were using?

    Greek women had virtually no political rights of any kind and were controlled by men at nearly every stage of their lives

    The President Elect is, to be honest, a Sociopathic Sexual Predatory Misogynist who is a tool of the Russian President.

    Trump will get next to nothing accomplished in his First Hundred Days (bank on it), and all those promises made and broken to your Alt-Right friends have really pissed them off, and they're prolly talkin' 'bout a Second Amendment Resolution for the that lying, insane prick as well.

    They even talk about that ^ solution on Radio, and television, and I'm pretty sure they mean business, 'cuz they're obviously not afraid to say it... dwell on that one.

    #5???

    And, again to be honest, You're sounding as close to nuts as they get.

    SO FUCK OFF Go play your games on your Laptop...

    I gotta see a Man about a Horse :D


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