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Trials & Litigation
Posted September 8, 2017, 7:00 am CDT
A federal judge in Boston has tossed a suit filed by the claimed inventor of email who alleged that TechDirt defamed him when it called him “a liar” and deemed his claim to be “fake.”
U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor ruled (PDF) against plaintiff Shiva Ayyadurai on Wednesday, report Ars Technica and Media Post. Saylor said the suit had to be dismissed because TechDirt’s claims could not be proven true or false.
The TechDirt article acknowledged that Ayyadurai invented an electronic mail system in 1979 when he was 14, and he obtained a copyright for the program. The article reported that Ayyadurai’s messaging system was not the first and the features he used had been discussed on open mailing lists—assertions that were not challenged in the lawsuit, Saylor said.
Instead Ayyadurai’s lawsuit challenges the conclusions drawn from the facts—that Ayyadurai’s claim of inventing email is “fake,” “fraudulent” and “bogus.” The article’s conclusions can’t be proven right or wrong partly because email can be defined so many different ways, Saylor said. He also said the statements were protected because they are subjective opinion or because they constitute hyperbolic speech.
A TechDirt blog post called the decision “clearly, a big win for the First Amendment and free speech.”
Ayyadurai was represented by Charles Harder, the California lawyer who represented Hulk Hogan in his successful privacy suit against Gawker, the Daily Beast reports. Harder said Ayyadurai would appeal.
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