[SIGCIS-Members] In today's Boston Globe, re developer of EMAIL

Thomas Haigh thomas.haigh at gmail.com
Tue Feb 14 14:23:59 PST 2017


I am by no means a legal expert, but according to Fortune
(http://fortune.com/2017/01/11/techdirt-libel-lawsuit/) 

 

Many states, including Massachusetts, have so-called anti-SLAPP statutes,
which offer a quick and cost-efficient means to defeat frivolous lawsuits
intended to censor or intimidate defendants. But the anti-SLAPP law will
likely be of no avail to TechDirt because the statute is largely restricted
to cases involving the government, and because the law may not apply in
federal court.

 

As such, TechDirt's legal bill could amount to hundreds of thousands of
dollars or even more if the case is subject to numerous procedural motions
and appeals.

 

Fortune links to this page:
<http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/anti-slapp-law-massachusetts>
http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/anti-slapp-law-massachusetts.

 

Best wishes,

 

Tom

 

-----Original Message-----
From: McMillan, William W [mailto:william.mcmillan at cuaa.edu] 
Sent: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 4:12 PM
To: Thomas Haigh <thomas.haigh at gmail.com>
Cc: members at lists.sigcis.org
Subject: RE: [SIGCIS-Members] In today's Boston Globe, re developer of EMAIL

 

Might SLAPP lawsuits be relevant if one is attacked for presenting facts and
rational arguments in support of or opposition to a public claim?

 

 
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_lawsuit_against_public_participatio
n>
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_lawsuit_against_public_participation

 

- Bill

 

________________________________

From: Members [members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] on behalf of Thomas Haigh
[thomas.haigh at gmail.com]

Sent: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 3:54 PM

To: 'Sarah T. Roberts'; 'David C. Brock'

Cc:  <mailto:members at lists.sigcis.org> members at lists.sigcis.org

Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] In today's Boston Globe, re developer of EMAIL

 

Perhaps the most disturbing thing in the Boston Globe column (which I notice
Ayyadurai is already featuring prominently on his own website) is the line
"One early innovator declined to be interviewed, fearing litigation from
Ayyadurai." So we now live in a world where Internet pioneers are afraid to
tell journalists that electronic mail was widely used in the mid-1970s. That
is what is known as a "chilling effect" on free speech.

 

I have focused my own statements (
<http://www.sigcis.org/ayyadurai%3chttp:/www.sigcis.org/ayyadurai>
www.sigcis.org/ayyadurai<http://www.sigcis.org/ayyadurai>) on Ayyadurai's
claims and arguments rather than his ethics and motivations. My expertise is
as a historian and technologist, not an ethicist or psychologist. My
position is simple:

 

 

1)      Nobody can invent a technology that already exists, still less one
that is in widespread use.

 

2)      "Email" is a contraction of "electronic mail" and refers to the same
thing. For example, Abbate's Inventing the Internet (p. 106) notes "The
network's users unexpectedly came up with a new focus for network activity:
electronic mail. Email (initially called 'net notes' or simply 'mail'.."

 

3)      Electronic mail systems were in widespread use many years before
Ayyadurai developed his "EMAIL" system at some point between 1978 and 1982.
For example, Abbate states (p.107) of the early-1970s ARPANET that "Email
quickly became the network's most popular and influential service,
surpassing all expectations."

 

4)      Therefore, Ayyadurai is not "the inventor of email."

 

The implication of Ayyadurai's recent lawsuits is that anyone who
acknowledges that 1, 2 and 3 are true, and that 4 is their inescapable
corollary, risks a hugely expensive legal ordeal. Here is what his press
release of Jan 4 said. "There is no reasonable dispute that Dr. Ayyadurai is
the inventor of email. The full press kit contains more than 20 testimonials
from leading technology experts and numerous Ph.D.s. The press kit also
includes two extensive research papers prepared by well-respected academic
university professors and scientists explaining why Dr. Ayyadurai is the
inventor of email, and how the few doubters are wrong." The next sentence
announces the lawsuit against Techdirt. (
<http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/gawker-media-pays-dr-shiva-ayyadura
i-inventor-of-email-750000-settlement-300385899.html>
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/gawker-media-pays-dr-shiva-ayyadurai
-inventor-of-email-750000-settlement-300385899.html)

 

I hope that members of this community will not allow themselves to be
intimidated, though as David warns it may be prudent not to say anything one
would not feel comfortable defending in court. If Ayyadurai's legal campaign
succeeds then what would happen to books like Abbate? Will anyone who uses
Abbate's work in the classroom run the risk of a multimillion dollar
lawsuit? Ayyadurai has also shown himself willing to exploit open records
laws to obtain my university emails, perhaps in a hunt for discrediting or
actionable materials.  <http://www.tomandmaria.com/Tom/emailgrab>
http://www.tomandmaria.com/Tom/emailgrab. Other such requests have been
harshly criticized by scholars as an assault on academic freedom.

 

A few weeks ago Christopher Leslie asked whether this case is really so
important to us, versus say defending net neutrality from the Trump
administration. I would argue that it is, because the challenge that the
post-fact world poses to academic freedom (and to so much else) is something
that we are all called to fight in our own little corners of the world.
Netflix and other tech firms will fight for net neutrality, but who will
fight for history? If the SIGCIS community doesn't stand up for the
integrity of the historical record, against such a concerted campaign to
undermine it, then who will?

 

Best wishes,

 

Tom

 

 

From: Members [ <mailto:members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org>
mailto:members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] On Behalf Of Sarah T. Roberts

Sent: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 12:15 PM

To: David C. Brock < <mailto:dcb at dcbrock.net> dcb at dcbrock.net>

Cc:  <mailto:members at lists.sigcis.org> members at lists.sigcis.org

Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] In today's Boston Globe, re developer of EMAIL

 

I mean I certainly don't intend to be silenced about either the record or my
take on this situation, or engaging with others about it. That's rather the
aim of suing, right?

 

--Sarah

---

 

S a r a h  T.  R o b e r t s,  P h. D.

 

Assistant Professor

University of California, Los Angeles

Department of Information Studies

Graduate School of Education & Information Studies
<https://is.gseis.ucla.edu/> https://is.gseis.ucla.edu/

 

Blogging periodically at

 <http://illusionofvolition.com%3chttp:/illusionofvolition.com/>
http://illusionofvolition.com<http://illusionofvolition.com/>

 

On Feb 14, 2017, at 9:14 AM, David C. Brock <
<mailto:dcb at dcbrock.net%3cmailto:dcb at dcbrock.net>
dcb at dcbrock.net<mailto:dcb at dcbrock.net>> wrote:

Dear All:

 

I think it might be wise for you to consider that the SIGCIS Members email
discussion archives are published publicly.

 

Dr. Ayyadurai and his lawyers are included in this public.

 

David

 

On Feb 14, 2017, at 12:10 PM, Sarah T. Roberts <
<mailto:sarah.roberts at ucla.edu%3cmailto:sarah.roberts at ucla.edu>
sarah.roberts at ucla.edu<mailto:sarah.roberts at ucla.edu>> wrote:

 

It may be an ideal time to publicize this goofiness, given the area of
alternative facts and the public' fatigue with them, and the bullies who
rely upon them.

 

---

 

S a r a h  T.  R o b e r t s,  P h. D.

 

Assistant Professor

University of California, Los Angeles

Department of Information Studies

Graduate School of Education & Information Studies
<https://is.gseis.ucla.edu/> https://is.gseis.ucla.edu/

 

Blogging periodically at

 <http://illusionofvolition.com%3chttp:/illusionofvolition.com/>
http://illusionofvolition.com<http://illusionofvolition.com/>

 

On Feb 14, 2017, at 8:48 AM, Dave Walden <
<mailto:dave.walden.family at gmail.com%3cmailto:dave.walden.family at gmail.com>
dave.walden.family at gmail.com<mailto:dave.walden.family at gmail.com>> wrote:

The reporter is quite a good technology reporter, in my view; and I see the
Globe as a pretty high quality newspaper.  I suspect that the article was
carefully reviewed by the Globe's legal people to cast doubt on Ayyadurai's
claims without making it possible for him to sue them for saying his claims
are wrong.

 

On 2/14/2017 11:42 AM, Pierre MOUNIER-KUHN wrote:

Well, the article - and even more the readers' comments - are far from
providing our self-proclaimed hero with the best publicity...

The most objectionable in this paper is the term "skeptics" ("The skeptics
say that by the 1970s, e-mail as we know it today was routinely used"). We
are not "skeptic", we know that S.A.'s claims are wrong.

Yours truly,

Pierre MK

 

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