Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Libel lawsuit over "credit" for inventing email; note on important Section 230 cases (right of publicity, Backpage)


There is a lawsuit against TechDirt founder Mike Masnick for a blog post in which he apparently challenged a claim by Shiva Ayyadurai, that the latter person had “invented” email in 1978.

Ars Technica has the story by David Kravits here.

The same attorney who brought down Gawker is representing the plaintiff in what purports to be a libel case.

Yet, the narrative does suggest that there were messaging systems in place in the 1960s, particularly in universities and the federal government.  Were military orders a kind of email?  Mine (from 1968) are still in my bedroom drawers.  .  ‘

Many data centers had CICS-based messaging systems on their mainframe computer systems in the 1980s, like SYSM, which amounted to inter-office email.  I believe that this existed at Bradford when I started working there in New York City in 1977.

But what really “counts” as “email”?  This whole dispute sounds relatively frivolous, and may well involve "The Opinion Rule" as a defense.  Is claiming karma credit such a big deal?

No, Al Gore didn't invent the Internet.



Update: 

Later today I wrote a Wordpress blog post about Section 230 and right of publicity, Jason Cross v. Facebook, here.  Could become important in 2017.  Also, the Backpage controversy exploded this week at the Senate hearings.  Details on wordpress here.



Update:  Jan 13

Techdirt says legal costs in defending a frivolous suit could cause it to close.  And Tim Lee of Vox says he started his career there in a tweet this morning.



Update:  Aug. 11

Techdirt is getting donations helping it continue as it defends itself, Arstechnica story by Cyrus Farivar, link. The link for the actual suit is here.



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