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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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 2:26pm

    May justice prevail again.

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

    • icon
      Derek Kerton (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 4:47pm

      Re:

      No. May justice prevail more.

      "Justice" would see TD's legal fees paid, plus time, and emotional suffering. It would have a punitive element to prevent further SLAPP suits.

      We may be satisfied with the results, but I won't see it as justice.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Oct 2017 @ 11:44am

        Re: Re:

        Actual justice would be Shiva Ayyadurai's forced to buy giant billboards apologizing for being a fucking evil bastard.

        Oh and for 6months his testicles should be wired up to give him 200volt electric shocks every time Mike fires up his PC to write an article.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 2:28pm

    Gee won't Harder be to busy to focus on this ridiculous case now that he's going to sue the NYT?

    Its a pity he hasn't given up, but hey at least he is burning through his share $750K settlement to prove to the world hes thin skinned & plays fast an loose with facts.

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

    • identicon
      Thad, 6 Oct 2017 @ 2:38pm

      Re:

      Gee won't Harder be to busy to focus on this ridiculous case now that he's going to sue the NYT?

      Nah; that's a ridiculous case too.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 2:47pm

      Re:

      ...he is burning through his share $750K settlement...

      If this suit against Techdirt costs him the entirety of his previous ill-gotten gains, it will be poetic justice, indeed!

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 3:25pm

        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...

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

        • icon
          That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 4:20pm

          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.

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

          • identicon
            Thad, 6 Oct 2017 @ 4:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Shiva's an asshole, but do you really think he's worse than Harvey Weinstein?

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

            • icon
              Ehud Gavron (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 5:43pm

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

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 5:49pm

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

                You're in a comment thread about his lawsuit against the NYT on behalf of Weinstein.

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

                • icon
                  Ehud Gavron (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 6:11pm

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

                  No. You confused the commentator who said SHIVA would now sue the NYT with thinking it has anything to do with Winstein suing anyone.

                  E

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

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 8:19pm

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

                    This is the first comment in the thread you are (still) responding in.

                    "Gee won't Harder be to busy to focus on this ridiculous case now that he's going to sue the NYT?"

                    You are the confused one.

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

                  • identicon
                    Thad, 9 Oct 2017 @ 3:08pm

                    Re: Re: Re: 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.

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

              • identicon
                Thad, 8 Oct 2017 @ 10:36pm

                Re: 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.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reading_comprehension

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

            • icon
              That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 6:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

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

              • identicon
                Thad, 8 Oct 2017 @ 10:55pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.)

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2017 @ 7:26am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

              Why?

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

        • icon
          Ninja (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 4:28pm

          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.

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

          • identicon
            Thad, 6 Oct 2017 @ 4:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: 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.

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

            • icon
              That Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Oct 2017 @ 12:25pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Who knows maybe Shiva will end up with a new claim to fame, the asshole who finally got a Federal AntiSlapp law passed.

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

              • icon
                Toom1275 (profile), 7 Oct 2017 @ 1:47pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                If not Shiva, then Harder's more than likely to play a part instead, what with his reported wall-map of which states have the most lax defamation laws, among other things.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2017 @ 1:43am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Sorry, but not in the current political climate in DC. The guy sitting in the Oval Office right now is very much in favor of EXPANDING libel laws (he's just as thin skinned as Shiva & Erdogan) and an anti-slapp statute would absolutely get a veto.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 2:37pm

    Seems like an open and shut case. Hopefully the appeals court will uphold the original ruling. Bonus if they grant legal fees.

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

  • identicon
    Thad, 6 Oct 2017 @ 2:37pm

    I hope the appellate court rules in favor of the anti-SLAPP motion. Both because that would be a healthy precedent, and because I would greatly appreciate seeing Shiva make his defeat even worse on appeal than it would have been if he'd just slunk away.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 2:53pm

    Good luck, hopefully the court will see the obvious and not only uphold the original ruling but also reverse course on the anti-SLAPP part of it, forcing him to pay up for his attempt to silence TD.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 2:53pm

    Greedy

    Just another jerk who got greedy and decided to try and steal more money when they didn't deserve a single dime to begin with.

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

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 3:53pm

    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.

    Ehud

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 4:22pm

      Re: Delusional people don't give up easily

      I do pity him as well but I also believe he has had his share of contributions to the community he was involved in even if they aren't as famous and public as e-mail as we use today (you know, Tomlinson etc).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 4:58pm

    A line from Taylor Swift's new song the radio keeps playing ad nauseum keeps reminding me of SLAPP suits. Specifically, this one:

    "But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time"

    Except choosing Harder is mutually exclusive with being smarter.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 5:40pm

    Here we go again. Hamilton's going to start jerking off in the comments...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2017 @ 5:58pm

    In California, anti-SLAPP law SLAPPs you.

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

  • icon
    Lisa Westveld (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 6:51pm

    Money back?

    So, if TechDirt wins the Anti-Slapp and this dude has to pay back all the legal costs of TechDirt, does that mean that all of us who donated to this great Cause will get our money back? :)

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

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 6 Oct 2017 @ 9:41pm

    When the facts are against you, use the law. When the law is against you, use the facts. If neither the facts nor the law are on your side, then you've got Charles Harder.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2017 @ 2:54am

    Sunk cost fallacy in effect?

    *insert-witty-joke-about-continuing-to-dig-deeper*

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2017 @ 5:19am

    Good luck.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2017 @ 7:56am

    Surprised by the some of the vaguely racist comments. No need to go there, don't give him the ammo.

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

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 7 Oct 2017 @ 11:35am

      Re:

      I don't much favor the repetition either, but the context is that some of these are the comments Ayyadurai has projected onto his critics.

      Or, i would hope that is still the context...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2017 @ 2:32pm

      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.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 7 Oct 2017 @ 4:40pm

        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.

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

      • icon
        Dan (profile), 8 Oct 2017 @ 11:34am

        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.

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

        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 8 Oct 2017 @ 11:47am

          Re: Re: Re:

          In fact, I've seen here, probably in the comments, where people have pointed out multiple features and RFCs for actual email that were developed by "brown-skinned Indians" which eviscerates his claim that anyone's trying to whitewash tech history.

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

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 8 Oct 2017 @ 1:54pm

      Re:

      He's the one that brought race into this. It's not racist to call out his bullshit claim that he's being persecuted because of his race. It's not racist to clarify that no, it's nothing to do with your race, it's because you're a pathological liar and a legal bully.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2017 @ 2:21pm

    Out_Of_The_Blue where are you?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 8 Oct 2017 @ 7:35am

    Shiva and his delusions

    Scary is hes running for office in MA against Elizabeth Warren.. I dont know whose worse....

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 8 Oct 2017 @ 4:14pm

    If you want to win...

    maybe you should Nerd, Harder.

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

  • identicon
    banjo, 8 Oct 2017 @ 11:20pm

    I have invented this comment. Please place it at the top as I do not want any comments to precede mine.

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

  • icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 9 Oct 2017 @ 3:16am

    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.

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

    • icon
      Dan (profile), 9 Oct 2017 @ 4:16am

      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.

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

      • icon
        MyNameHere (profile), 9 Oct 2017 @ 1:36pm

        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.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Oct 2017 @ 4:45am

      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.)

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


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