From the Hollywood Reporter:
Self-Proclaimed Inventor of Email Files Defamation Lawsuit Against Techdirt's Mike Masnick
This is the latest case from attorney Charles Harder, who previously represented Hulk Hogan against Gawker.
Techdirt founder Mike Masnick will be going toe-to-toe in court with Charles Harder, the Hollywood attorney who famously represented Hulk Hogan in the sex tape lawsuit that brought down Gawker.
On Wednesday, Harder's client Shiva Ayyadurai filed a $15 million libel lawsuit in Massachusetts against Masnick, Leigh Beadon and Techdirt parent company Floor64 Inc. over articles that doubted Ayyadurai's claim to have invented email.
Ayyadurai previously sued Gawker in a lawsuit that many suspected was funded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. Ayyadurai recently settled the claim for $750,000.
He and Harder now have a new legal target.
For Techdirt, Masnick writes a wonky tech policy blog that has earned a loyal following for taking strong stances on issues like copyright, net neutrality, security issues and other topics. His name provokes eye-rolling among many studio lawyers thanks to his frequently hostile attitude toward aggressive intellectual property actions. He was one of the noisiest antagonists toward the Stop Online Piracy Act a few years ago. He's also credited with coining the term, "The Streisand Effect," to describe the phenomenon of how attempts to censor information often lead to more awareness of the very information someone is trying to hide. The phrase came after entertainer Barbara Streisand aimed more than a decade ago to suppress photographic images of her Malibu, Calif., residence.
Masnick has been on the receiving end of many cease-and-desist demands through the years — he isn't shy about writing about them — but mostly has escaped lawsuits. Until now.
Ayyadurai first takes issue with an article posted Sept. 2, 2014, headlined, "Why is Huffington Post Running a Multi-Part Series to Promote the Lies of a Guy Who Pretended to Invent Email?"
The article in question accused Ayyadurai of perpetuating a "fake story" of what he supposedly invented at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1978.
"By all accounts, it was a perfectly decent email system that allowed the UMDNJ staff to send electronic messages," wrote Masnick at the time. "Further, no one doubts that, in 1981, Ayyadurai registered the copyright on his program, which was called EMAIL. The problems are that (1) email was invented long before 1978, (2) the copyright is merely on the specific software code, not the idea of email, and (3) while Ayyadurai may have independently recreated the basics of email (and even added a nice feature), none of his work was even remotely related to what later became the standards of email. What's most sickening about this is that as part of this new PR campaign, Ayyadurai is ridiculously arguing that the reason no one believes him isn't because he's simply wrong, but because they can't stand to believe that 'a dark-skinned immigrant kid, 14 years old,' invented email, and that it was done in 'one of the poorest cities in the US' rather than at a famous university. "...MORE