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Aug. 9, 2017, 11:18 a.m.
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LINK: www.techdirt.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Shan Wang   |   August 9, 2017

TechDirt is being sued for $15 million by the infamous self-proclaimed “inventor of email” Shiva Ayyadurai, who is represented by lawyer Charles Harder.

In the midst of its ongoing legal battle, the site has announced an effort to bolster its own reporting around freedom of speech issues online. The effort is supported through a partnership with the Freedom of the Press Foundation as well as other groups ranging from the Charles Koch Foundation to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark’s CraigConnects to WordPress parent Automattic. Together, the financial support for TechDirt exceeds $250,000. (As Axios pointed out this morning, from quite an “eclectic” group of supporters. Koch Industries, by the way, has sponsored Axios newsletters.)

[The lawsuit] has also given us greater recognition that many people — even journalists, lawyers and politicians — may not fully understand these issues, what legal protections there are, where those protections are under attack, and where they could be strengthened. Many are also not aware of the massive cost attacks on free speech have, and just how many people they are impacting.

This has inspired us to work with the Freedom of the Press Foundation to put this project together, which will enable us to focus even more reporting resources on covering threats to free speech in the U.S. and around the globe, and to tell the stories of the chilling effects created when free speech is attacked. We are thankful that a number of prominent organizations and foundations have also stepped up to sponsor this effort, including Automattic, the Charles Koch Foundation, Craig Newmark’s CraigConnects and Union Square Ventures. Between all supporting organizations, more than $250,000 has been committed so far to further reporting on free speech.

TechDirt has stated it will maintain “full editorial control” over its coverage.

Ayyadurai and Harder are names you might recognize from their legal entanglements with Gawker: Gawker Media and Ayyadurai settled a lawsuit over a 2012 article it wrote about his email invention claims, and Harder also represented Terry Bollea/Hulk Hogan in a Peter Thiel-bankrolled suit against Gawker that led to the company’s bankruptcy and the end of Gawker.com.

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