On January 6th, Techdirt published a story covering YouTube takedown abuse perpetrated by Antoni Norman, the developer behind the Pinguy OS Ubuntu/Linux hybrid. Apparently, Norman had engaged in some abusive behavior on the Cup of Linux Mumble chat server, supposedly while intoxicated. This resulted in a 3-month ban from the server and Cup of Linux site. This was extended to a lifetime ban after Norman issued bogus takedown requests on Cup of Linux instructional videos featuring "how to" instructions for setting up Pinguy OS created by Shawn Patrick Ryan (aka "Spatry").
Over the previous few years, Spatry (whose videos were targeted) and Norman enjoyed a friendly relationship. At no point during those previous years did Norman have any issue with Spatry's use of Pinguy OS trademarks. Now, after being banned for his own misconduct, Norman suddenly developed a deep concern for the Pinguy OS logo. The takedowns he issued resulted in Spatry removing 29 videos (6 were directly named in the takedown request) from the Cup of Linux channel.
Given the context, Norman's takedown requests appeared to be nothing more than retaliation for his banning.
Shortly after the post went live, Norman contacted me via email. Obviously unhappy with the unflattering coverage, he proceeded to throw a bunch of legal stuff at the wall in hopes of something sticking. The entire email exchange is included below. Norman's end of the conversation is in italics. Mine is in bold. Any interruptions for commentary will be in brackets and not indented, for clarity.
Could you not post my personal email.
I am also pretty sure it isn't exactly legal posting legal documents online.
You mean this email that anyone could find with no trouble? (See attached screenshot from GoDaddy registrar records.)
I'll redact it from the screenshot in the story. And as for your assertion about legal documents: you're wrong.
- Tim Cushing
[Norman has since updated his registration with a proxy email address. Here's the screenshot of the registration info I emailed to Norman.]
[Back to the conversation:]
I've updated the picture with a redacted version. What you've cited doesn't help your argument.
[This is Norman's first legal salvo, a link to a page supposedly meant to prove his point about the publication of private info, but one that actually works against
him and for
Here's the part I believe Norman thinks helps him:
The legal claim known as "publication of private facts" is a species of invasion of privacy. You commit this kind of invasion of privacy by publishing private facts about an individual, the publication of which would be offensive to a reasonable person.
And here's what directly follows it:
This legal claim can only be successful, however, if the facts in question are not legitimately newsworthy.
In the context of this blog -- which has continuously covered these sorts of abuses for longer than 15 years -- this is newsworthy. The inclusion of Norman's email address in the screenshot of the takedown request verifies
the fact that Norman was actually behind the takedowns. Hence: newsworthy. Also, contrary to his claims, not
private information, no matter how badly he wishes it to be.]
You do understand what you have published isn't legal? You are sharing a legal on going private matter?
A takedown issued to a public YouTube account isn't a private matter. That Spatry chose to publicize this is his prerogative. Us reporting on it is a matter of public interest because the takedown appears to be retaliatory, rather than justified.
Almost everything in that link you sent involves the exploitation of personal information for advertising goods and services. Techdirt has been around for 15 years and has covered this sort of thing on numerous occasions, so it's not as though your "private matter" is being "exploited."
Your personal email address is a matter of public record. It is in your domain registry. I have redacted it as a FAVOR to you. I also gave you a chance to respond to this and tell your side of the story BEFORE publication. I sent an email to you asking for a response at the same time I sent one to Spatry. You chose not to respond until two days ago and you really haven't offered anything more than complaints with no legal basis.
[Here are screenshots backing up my claim that I contacted Norman and Spatry roughly simultaneously (within three minutes of each other).]
[Back to Antoni Norman:]
Due to Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), I have to have valid contact information for the domain.
What you have published has nothing to do with my domain.
As the legal matter you have published is still ongoing by law I can not comment on the case until it has been resolved.
Right. You have to have valid contact information. I'm just showing you that anyone can find your email address, even if I redact it.
And as for the rest, OK. Spatry feels like commenting on it. and we obviously have. So, if you have no comment, so be it.
[Norman digs deeper, citing UK law
referring to lawsuits
containing a court-ordered injunctions
forbidding the publication of certain facts. A YouTube takedown is none
of these things.
Furthermore, if Norman was so concerned about the exposure of his email, he could have paid GoDaddy a little extra to hide those details (which he has now done). You have to provide contact information to registrars but you are not required to expose it to the general public.]
But you understand by publishing that article that you have impede a legal case and broke "Contempt of Court Act 1981" and "Publication of Private Facts".
Do you have any comments about this? Did you knowingly know you was open to getting sued by publishing private information and discussing an open legal matter?
Have you filed a lawsuit against Spatry or have you only issued a takedown via YouTube? Because what you're linking to applies to ongoing legal action in terms of a TRIAL, not an action involving a third-party tool to report infringement.
Also, you're dealing with the wrong jurisdiction.
[Norman keeps supplying these two URLs as if they're suddenly going to turn into relevant legal precedent. As has been confirmed by Spatry, no further legal action has been pursued by Norman, so no stretch of the imagination will turn an automated, third-party takedown system wholly unrelated
to civil actions into a lawsuit where actual "contempt of court" charges may be levelled.]
Do you have a legal department contact Ican to forward to my legal representative to talk about damages?
There is contact information available at the website.
Can you just send me the email/website? I can't find anything on the site. If not I will just get my legal representative to find it.
His final email contained a few more vague threats and the sort of apology no one means when they say it.
OK thanks. I will forward these emails to her tomorrow when the office opens and we will go from there. Any info you can give on how she can contact your legal representative will help speed things along.
Honestly I am sorry you have been dragged in the middle of this, but you posting that article has impede the case and made things a more complicated.
This post will be updated if we hear from Norman's legal rep, but I'm not holding my breath. Norman has no legal basis for his claims of "impeding a case" or "publishing private information" or anything else he threw out during our conversation. What it looks like is an attempt to intimidate Techdirt into issuing an apology or pulling the article... or whatever. Norman's obviously unhappy but he seems unsure of where to focus his efforts.
What is for certain is that Norman is either unwilling or unable to learn from his mistakes. He was given a chance to salvage his reputation but instead has decided to double down on matches and accelerant. He's a respected developer, but he's swiftly shedding what's left of that respect with an unfortunate proclivity for retaliation and bluster.