With the threat of legal action that could potentially ruin an organization, it’s not surprising that many publications are wary of what they print these days. But technology blog Techdirt, which itself is being sued for libel, has announced that it will be accepting over $250,000 from backers “to further reporting on free speech.”
A post written by Techdirt founder Mike Masnick reveals the financial support will come from a group that includes the Freedom of the Press Foundation, Union Square Ventures, The Charles Koch Foundation, WordPress parent company Automattic, and Craiglist founder Craig Newmark’s charity.
Sarah Ruger, Director of Free Expression for the Charles Koch Institute, said: “We benefit tremendously from the protection of the First Amendment in the U.S., but if media platforms and individuals can be thoroughly silenced through burdensome legal battles, do we really have free speech?”
Masnick writes that the support will "enable us to focus even more reporting resources on covering threats to free speech in the US and around the globe, and to tell the stories of the chilling effects created when free speech is attacked."
Masnick and Techdirt parent company Floor64 are currently embroiled in a legal battle with Shiva Ayyadurai, who claims to have invented email when he was a teenager in the 1970s. He is suing the site for $15 million over several articles that, according to the complaint, refer to him as a “fraud,” “liar,” and “charlatan.”
In 2016, Ayyadurai sued Gawker for disputing his claims. After it went bankrupt following the Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan) trial, the site agreed to pay Ayyadurai $750,000 and the two articles in question were deleted. He had been seeking $35 million in damages.
Ayyadurai is being represented by Charles Harder, the same LA-based lawyer who represented Bollea. Masnick said the donations Techdirt is accepting wouldn't be used for its legal defense.