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New Wank Plan - Legal Threat Demands TechDirt Shuts Down
August 26, 2010
Thomas Mennecke
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One has to wonder what is going on with libel laws in the UK. Tech Dirt, a very popular online blog and community forum, has received a legal threat from the UK law firm Addlestone Keane. Apparently, a community member published an anti-Semitic post directed towards a Mr. Jeffrey Morris, who then stuck his lawyers on Tech Dirt. Did they ask to remove the offending post? Perhaps the offending thread? Nope - they demanded that the entire site be taken offline. All of it.

From the legal threat, "We have therefore been instructed by our client that unless we receive your written undertaking by 31 August 2010 you will take immediate steps to close down this site, we will be instructed to institute Court proceeding against you and your company without further notice."

The threat concludes, "...if you choose to reject that option, you are advised not to treat the threat of litigation as an idle one."

Oh where ever to begin with this. An "idle one"? This must be one of the biggest jokes ever to come from a UK law firm, even bigger than the wank plan hatched by ACS:Law's Andrew Crossely against Slyck.com (at least they only wanted entire forum threads removed). With a solid legal backing, Tech Dirt wasted no time striking back.

"Most importantly, this threat is coming from the UK, and the lawyers insist that they will take it to court in the UK. This makes it rather timely and newsworthy for an entirely different reason. Just a few weeks ago we wrote about the new SPEECH Act that was passed into law to protect against libel tourism. As the Congressional record shows, the law was specifically designed to protect US businesses from libel judgments that violate Section 230 -- and the bill's backers explicitly call out libel judgments made in the UK. In other words, the SPEECH Act explicitly protects us from exactly the sort of threat that these lawyers and their client are making against us..."

With the US Constitution, Section 230 of the CDA, and Speech Act firmly protecting the First Amendment of US citizens, Tech Dirt doesn't appear to be treating this idly, rather treating it as the total joke it is. Slyck has received its fair share of legal threats, and can appreciate the position that Tech Dirt is in. Luckily, strong laws protecting free speech still exist in the US, and as long as this continues, US publishers can continue ignoring and ridiculing clueless UK law firms.

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