Our Legal Dispute With Shiva Ayyadurai Is Now Over

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It’s possible that some of you saw the news earlier this week that the legal dispute, in which Shiva Ayyadurai sued us for defamation over 14 posts on Techdirt, has been settled. Many people — including lawyers I know — had been under the impression that this case ended a long time ago, but it has actually continued for nearly two and a half years. As you may recall, back in September of 2017, the district court dismissed the case, largely on First Amendment grounds, saying that everything we wrote about Ayyadurai was protected speech. Unfortunately, the court did not accept our argument that California’s anti-SLAPP law should apply, which would have allowed us to recover our legal fees.

Ayyadurai appealed this dismissal, and we cross-appealed the anti-SLAPP question. For the past 18 months, we have held ongoing negotiations to settle the case, which concluded with the announcement earlier this week. The settlement is that we agreed to add links on the articles at issue, to a statement on one of Ayyadurai’s sites that he says is a response to our articles. No money exchanged hands. We found the terms of this settlement acceptable, as basically all of our posts were linking to and responding to Ayyadurai’s claims in the first place, so, if he wants to repeat those claims, he is more than free to do so. We have no interest in silencing anyone. We continue to stand by everything that we wrote about those claims, and suggest that you read our posts as well.

You may wonder how it could possibly take 18 months to negotiate a settlement about adding links to old articles — and, indeed, I wonder that myself. The entire process has been quite a pain for us. I cannot and would not describe this result as a victory, because this has been nearly two and a half years of wasted time, effort, resources, attention and money just to defend our right to report on a public figure and explain to the world that we do not believe his claims to have invented email are correct, based on reams of evidence.

During those 18 months, we stopped all the fundraising we had done around the lawsuit, as, for nearly all of that time, it did appear that a settlement was close, and we did not wish to mislead anyone into believing that we were raising money on the premise that our continued existence was in grave danger only to settle the case immediately after doing so. We did not, in any way, expect this process to drag out this long, and we now have significant legal and other bills that we still have to pay. We are glad the lawsuit is done, but we now need to ask for your support. If we are able to raise more than our bills, any excess will go towards our ongoing reporting. If you would prefer to support us in other ways — including via Patreon or in exchange for t-shirts and other merch, all the various options are available to check out here.

We are glad this chapter is behind us, and we have a bunch of other plans that we’ve been working on, which we hope we can now focus on without this major distraction.

Separately, we would like to give a tremendous thank you to our legal team at Prince Lobel Tye, mainly Rob Bertsche and Jeff Pyle, who were truly wonderful partners through this harrowing experience. While I personally hope to never require their services again — for anyone on the receiving end of this kind of lawsuit, I cannot recommend them more. I’d also like to say thank you to Chris Bavitz at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society for his help and support.

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