[SIGCIS-Members] Fall Updates on Ayyadurai and Techdirt

Thomas Haigh thomas.haigh at gmail.com
Tue Oct 10 10:58:06 PDT 2017



There have been some significant developments in the "inventor of email"
saga since my last roundup, so as the list has now returned to life here's a
brief roundup of reporting for those of you not following obsessively.


Big news: on September 6 a judge granted summary dismissal of the $15
million libel lawsuit filed against Techdirt. According to reports, this was
done on the basis that even if every factual claim in Ayyadurai's complaint
turned out to be fully supported by evidence, none of the alleged behavior
would constitute libel. The judge noted that Ayyadurai's claim is "incapable
of being proved true of false" as claims to have produced the first of
anything involve adopting a particular definition. By that logic Ayyadurai
has a right to say he invented email, others have a right to disagree, and
neither side has a right to sue the other for their opinions. Which seems
reasonable to me. Many reports of this online, e.g.


The full ruling is at


Techdirt recently reported that Ayyadurai has notified the court of his
intention to appeal. The same story mentions that Techdirt is appealing
another aspect of the ruling: the Massachusetts judge's refusal to apply
California's anti-SLAPP law to the case, under which a plaintiff might be
liable for the legal costs of the defendant in a groundless lawsuit brought
to silence critics.
is-failed-libel-suit-against-techdirt.shtml  Ayyadurai's lawyer, Charles
Harder, has also promised to sue the New York Times for $50 million on
behalf of Harvey Weinstein.


Before the case was dismissed, Ars Technica published a lengthy article
including some email history and actual reporting -- including quotes from
Ayyadurai himself (and from me).


In August, Techdirt had accepted a $250,000 donation to support its
reporting on free speech issues. The money came from a variety of sources,
including the Koch Foundation as well as more liberal groups, making for an
interesting alliance.


Mike Masnick of Techdirt repeatedly chocked up as he described the effects
of the lawsuit on his business and himself at the Personal Democracy Forum
in June.
https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/08/mike-masnick-personal-democracy-forum/ The
talk highlighted Ayyadurai's tweet ""#FakeNewsMedia like TechShit need to be
shutdown for their FAKE NEWS."


Meanwhile Ayyadurai's quixotic senate campaign (slogan: "Only a real Indian
can defeat the fake Indian") is proceeding energetically, including a spot
keynoting the controversial Boston "free speech" rally held shortly after
the Charlottesville tragedy.
http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/19/us/boston-free-speech-rally/index.html. He
also received widespread attention for an ill-fated appearance with
conservative radio host Howie Carr in which Ayyadurai repeatedly shouted
variations on "It's not about you or me, it's about Elizabeth Warren" when
asked about a 2005 arrest for domestic abuse.


Boston Magazine ran a closely reported feature on the campaign back in June,
capturing Ayyadurai's own perspective on the dramatic evolution of his
political reviews from ultra liberal campus activist to "darling of the
Breitbart set."  :


This has been your Fall update on the invention of email.


Best wishes,





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