Self-Proclaimed Inventor of Email Files $15 Million Defamation Lawsuit Against Techdirt

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Techdirt founder Mike Masnick has been named in a $15 million libel lawsuit in Massachusetts by a representative of Shiva Ayyadurai over claims that Ayyadurai did not, in fact, invent email, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Ayyadurai is being represented by Hollywood attorney Charles Harder, who represented Hulk Hogan in his suit against Gawker.

The Huffington Post published a series of articles in 2014 relating a version of the history of email, which claim that Ayyadurai invented it. The articles appear to have been removed.

In response to the Huffington Post series, Masnick published an article titled: “Why Is Huffington Post Running A Multi-Part Series To Promote The Lies Of A Guy Who Pretended To Invent Email?” Masnick credits Ray Tomlinson for playing a more critical role in the invention of email by introducing the “@” symbol in 1972, though he notes Tomlinson claimed that no individual invented email. Masnick also refers to the use of a system called “MAILBOX” at MIT in 1965.

Part of the argument made in the Huffington Post articles, Masnick says, depends on debunking the validity of previous references to electronic mail systems by referring to a RAND report from 1977. The reference, however, presents two sentences from the report, three pages apart, as consecutive. Quoting from the report at some length, Masnick points out that the argument it makes is not that email does not exist, but that the “MS” personal message system required further development to satisfy all possible users.

Masnick has returned to the story several times, and Ayyadurai accuses him not only of defamation, but also intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the Reporter says. Leigh Beadon and Floor64 Inc., parent company of Techdirt, are also named in the suit.

In November, Ayyadurai “reached a reported $750,000 settlement against Gawker for a series of articles that sought to refute his claims to have invented email in 1979. Those stories have also been removed from Gawker’s sites, and Ayyadurai called the settlement ‘a victory for truth.'”

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  1. Jake Roberts

    Tech Dirt guys are horrible humans. They run a dead broke failing website because no one will advertise on a website dumb enough to be named "Tech Dirt." It's like they named it to fail. They were lucky enough to somehow testify in front of congress. But then they used that honor to rip of clients, and then their CEO Mike Masnick was accused of using his congressional influence to threaten a girl he allegedly sexually assaulted. Something to the tune of, do you know how import I am, I spoke to congress... classic abuser stuff. Now that Masnick's identity has been ruined online with all of these bad reports, reviews, and accusations. He spends his career trying to ruin other peoples identities. His site is littered with one sided unethical attacks written out of nothing short of anger and vengeance. His poor sap partners just seem along for the ride as Masnick runs the company into the ground desperately trying to prove to the world that he is someone important. The reality is, he was someone important for a second. But he squandered that, along with his career, his good name, and now his company. All that bad karma is coming back for Masnick and Tech Dirt with a vengeance. Free speech doesn't give you the right to use a new technology (the internet) to attack, defame, and relentlessly harass people. Tech Dirt deserves everything they have coming to them, because they all know in their hearts they were not writing news, they were attacking people. Anyone who reads their website can see multiple cases where they went way beyond normal journalism to ruin someones identity online. In some cases writing negative article after negative article about some non famous person who may have done some trivial thing that offended them. The site is set up just like the Dirty, to attack people, and look at how many lawsuits the Dirty has lost. The site is even named after the Dirty. All of this will come out in court finally thank god! If you have been attacked by Tech Dirt now is the time to sue them. Since they cant even afford to defend the suit they are in already. Contact lawyers here to start a suit against Tech Dirt: