Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Didn’t

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:39 am

Huffington Post And The View From Bogustan: Standing Behind Blatantly False Claims Isn't Journalism
from the what's-wrong-with-people-over-there dept
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Sep 5th 2014

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Over the last week, we've been debunking a bizarre "series" of stories over at Huffington Post, which is claiming to be about "the history of email" but is not. It's about a guy, Shiva Ayyadurai, who may have written an implementation of email in the late 1970s, but which was clearly well after email was in widespread use. Ayyadurai's actual program (and as far as I can tell, he has not released any screenshots of what the program actually looked like) may have worked well for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) where he wrote it as a 14-year-old, but it contributed nothing to the future of email. Beyond email existing in various forms long before that, nothing that happened later in the email space appears to have happened because of Ayyadurai's program. Each of the advancements in email came from elsewhere, with no indication that anyone anywhere was even aware of what Ayyadurai had done in New Jersey.

Ayyadurai has waged an incredibly bizarre public relations campaign, and the more you look at it, the more bizarre it becomes.
However, anyone who looks over any of the primary documentation (much of which we've linked to in our previous posts) can only conclude that while Ayyadurai may have independently come up with some ideas, he most certainly did not invent email. It was widely in use. The key arguments in his claim are obviously false, and prey on (1) a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of copyright law and (2) an almost fraudulent misquoting of Dave Crocker, a guy who really was heavily involved in early email efforts. Again, all of that is discussed in the earlier posts.

What I still cannot fathom is how the Huffington Post can stand behind this "reporting." I've now heard from three different HuffPost reporters on the news side who all say that they're horrified that no one at the company has done anything about this. The only official response I got stood by the stories, but actual reporters at the company recognize that their own credibility has been absolutely destroyed by this. It's been pointed out that the five part series is on HuffPo's "blogging" side -- which gives a platform to PR folks with no editorial oversight.

But, because HuffPo does little to separate out its "news" division from those open "blogs," the blogs get filled with all sorts of clearly bogus crap. Much of it gets totally ignored, but some (apparently including PR "guru" Larry Weber and his business partner Shiva Ayyadurai) are willing to exploit the fact that no one recognizes the blogging platform has no editorial review, to pretend that a "reputable source" has "confirmed" the story. Ayyadurai himself keeps pointing to the HuffPo stories as some sort of "vindication" (while hilarious suggesting that I'm being paid off by Raytheon...). He leaves out that these are all blog posts by his friends and partners, put up on the site with no editorial review. Again: every serious look into the history has found that he is not the inventor of email.

And that's why it's so damaging to the good reporting that some actual HuffPo reporters do, to find out that the company won't retract and renounce this series as a PR campaign for a series of blatantly fraudulent claims -- obvious to anyone who looks at the documentation. Even worse, however, is the fact that part of the HuffPo journalism side -- HuffPo Live -- picked up on the completely bogus campaign and did a whole fawning interview with Ayyadurai, never once presenting the evidence that he's fraudulently misrepresenting basic facts. And, contrary to the claims from Huffington Post's PR people, the HuffPo Live articles, written by Emily Tess Katz, do not have any "clarification" -- bogus or not.

I've now asked the author of the HuffPo live stories, Emily Tess Katz, multiple times if she still stands by this story, and she has refused to respond. Journalistic integrity! According to one report, she had said she stood by it, and then deleted the tweet.

We've talked in the past about the concept of "he said/she said" journalism -- what Journalism Professor Jay Rosen likes to call "the view from nowhere" -- in which journalists feel (incorrectly) that "being objective" means giving "both sides equal weight and letting the reader decide." That's bad. Journalism should be about the search for truth.

The thing that's truly baffling here isn't that HuffPo and HuffPo Live are doing "the view from nowhere," but that they're actually actively promoting a lie. It's the view from Bogustan. Rather than promoting the truth or presenting false balance, Huffington Post is actively claiming that a clearly false story is true -- and when presented with reams of evidence on that front, it appears that the company is simply throwing up its hands and hoping the whole story just blows over. Beyond the reporter, I've emailed Huffington Post PR people, and they, too, are now refusing to comment. Meanwhile, some of the company's very good reporters are hanging their heads in shame.

My suggestion: perhaps it's time to start looking for a publication to work for that actually takes journalistic integrity seriously.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:41 am

Huffington Post Finally Removes Most Articles About Fake Email Inventor; Meanwhile, Ayyadurai Threatens To Sue His Critics
from the did-he-invent-slapp-suits-too? dept
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Sep 8th 2014

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Over the weekend, it appears that someone at the Huffington Post finally realized that hoping the fuss over its entirely bogus "history of email" series would blow over wasn't going to happen. In case you missed it last week, we had called out Huffington Post for allowing Shiva Ayyadurai and his friends to post an entirely bogus "history of email" series, all designed to make it look like Ayyadurai himself had invented email -- a claim he's been making for a few years, despite it being entirely false, based on totally misrepresenting a number of things, including what copyright means, misquoting a 1977 research paper and playing "no true scotsman" over what is a "true" email system. Despite the evidence of how wrong Ayyadurai and his friends were, HuffPo allowed the series to go on with more false claims, and then told me it had "added a clarification" that didn't clarify anything, but was a statement written by Ayyadurai, repeating the false claims. On Friday, we wondered how Huffington Post could justify posting obviously false information.

It appears the powers that be at HuffPo finally realized that they had a problem.

All of the posts by Shiva Ayyadurai's friends, making the entirely false argument that he "invented email," have been removed from Huffington Post, redirecting people to this page with the following text:

The post that previously appeared in this space -- part of a blogger-generated series on the history of email -- is no longer available. Readers and media commentators alerted us to factual and sourcing issues in the series and, after an internal review, we removed it from the site.


There are some interesting language choices there. First, note that they admit that it was a "blogger-generated series," which is an attempt to distance the fake series, put together by Shiva Ayyadruai himself with PR guru Larry Weber, from Huffington Post's journalistic "news" side. Ayyadurai and Weber had been banking on the fact that most people don't realize that the blogging side of HuffPo has no editorial controls to pretend that the series had some sort of journalistic credibility. They appear to be promoting the fake articles everywhere, and some of their supporters have been trying to use the Huffington Post series as credible citations for Wikipedia (amusingly, one of their supporters kept trying to reject others pointing to my detailed debunkings by saying it doesn't count since I'm just a blogger -- ignoring that Weber, Ayyadurai and their friends were using HuffPo's blogging platform as well).

Of course, what that note also (conveniently) leaves out is that it wasn't just the "blogger-generated series" that was the problem and has been taken down. HuffPo Live (part of its "journalistic" side) also did a long interview with Ayyadurai, and had articles written up by reporters like Emily Tess Katz (who continues to ignore every question asked about this), repeating ridiculous claims from Ayyadurai about how his critics are just racists who don't like the fact that a "dark-skinned immigrant boy" invented email. Of course the reality is that it has nothing to do with racism, but rather the facts -- which Huffington Post journalists apparently didn't even think were worth the trouble of a quick Googling, to find where all of Ayyadurai's claims had long since been debunked.

Finally, HuffPo didn't actually take down all such articles. There's a blog post from 2013 by Deepak Chopra and Ayyadurai making the same claims that remains on the site.
Ayyadurai is associated with Chopra and frequently uses his connection to Chopra as some sort of validation of his claims.

Amusingly, despite HuffPo PR people telling me to email them with any more questions last Wednesday, they ignored every question I sent them since then (with one exception which I'll get to below), and (of course) didn't bother to tell me they had pulled the series either, despite my sending a few questions about whether they intended to keep it up. Instead, a whole bunch of you -- the readers of this site -- let me know. It's almost as if HuffPo wished to sweep the whole thing under the rug.

Of course, one part of the problem may be that Ayyadurai is now claiming in the Economic Times of India that Arianna Huffington herself "commissioned" the series after hearing Ayyadurai give a talk. I asked HuffPo PR (and Arianna directly) if that was accurate and (finally) HuffPo PR got back to me to say that (once again) Ayyadurai is lying, and that "neither HuffPost nor Arianna 'commissioned' Shiva's series."

In that same Economic Times article, there's also the absolutely hilarious claim from Ayyadurai suggesting that he's considering legal action against his "critics."

Shiva Ayyadurai, the man in the middle of a raging controversy over his claims of being the inventor of email, doesn't want to go legal on his detractors but is looking for support from the public. "Lawsuits take a long time. If I have to pull the trigger I will. But I have decided to go directly to the people," Ayyadurai said in an interview with ET.


First off, there is no "raging controversy." There's no controversy at all. Ayyadurai is simply making false claims and that's agreed upon by pretty much everyone who's looked at the evidence. Second, "going to the people" is great, but historically he's done that with clearly bogus claims -- such as misquoting Dave Crocker's 1977 research and pretending that his 1982 copyright on his EMAIL software is the equivalent of a patent for the concept of email. So it's pretty easy to counter that, since the facts are not on his side. As for the idea of a lawsuit, I would hope that any lawyer he discusses a lawsuit with takes the time to look at the details here -- and also understand the laws around SLAPP suits and the nature of the First Amendment. Because I may not be "the inventor of email," but I can guess that any such lawsuits won't end well for Ayyadurai.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:45 am

Fact Checking Is Dead: Mainstream Media Goes Nuts Repeating Debunked Claims By The Fake 'Inventor Of Email'
from the is-this-really-so-hard? dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Sep 9th 2014

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I had honestly hoped that yesterday's story about the Huffington Post finally retracting its series of totally bogus articles (mostly written by Shiva Ayyadurai or his colleagues and friends, but a few by its actual "journalists"), pretending to argue that V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai had "invented email," would be the end of this story. Ayyadurai has built up quite a reputation around this false claim, even though it's been debunked over and over and over again.

Ayyadurai keeps coming back, often moving the goalposts and changing his definitions, but still ultimately flat out lying in pretending to have "invented" email.
To be clear, he did no such thing. Email was in wide use at the time he supposedly wrote his software. Ayyadurai, however, has cleverly used misleading (to downright false) claims to make what appears on its face to be a credible story, fooling a number of gullible reporters. The crux of his argument revolves around the copyright registration he obtained for a software program in 1982 called EMAIL. But, as we've explained over and over again, a copyright is just for a specific expression (i.e., that specific program), and not for "inventing" anything. The most obvious parallel would be Microsoft, which holds a copyright on "Windows" -- the operating system -- but did not "invent" the idea of a graphical user interface involving "windows."

And yet, yesterday morning, everyone began flooding me with new stories about Ayyadurai, written by clueless entertainment reporters, all because Ayyadurai apparently got married to actress Fran Drescher. The "dating Fran Drescher" story has been making the rounds for a while now, and it was so random and unrelated that we'd ignored it in previous posts, even though one part of the HuffPo series was HuffPo Live talking to Ayyadurai about Drescher, in what was an incredibly awkward exchange (note: despite pulling most of the other articles about Ayyadurai, HuffPo left this one up). In the video (which has been taken down), Ayyadurai made this incredibly awkward "introduction" to Fran, in which he repeatedly highlights that he's just hanging out "in Malibu with Fran," and then says for emphasis "with Fran Drescher, who I'm dating." That leads Fran to jump into view, and the HuffPo live "reporter" Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani starts absolutely gushing over Fran. It was weird, but since it wasn't directly related to whole lie about "inventing email," we hadn't mentioned it.

However, thanks to the "wedding," now it appears that tons of mainstream press reports are writing about the wedding and repeating the totally debunked claim about Ayyadurai "inventing" email. This has resulted in many people wondering if the whole HuffPo series was deliberately ramped up prior to the "wedding" to get the mainstream press to roll with the bogus claim. It's entirely possible, but considering that Ayyadurai has been trying to make this lie stick for years, it may just be a convenient coincidence. Either way, the mainstream press apparently is unable to do any fact checking and is repeating bogus claims as facts. Let's highlight a few:

• People Magazine, written by "reporter" Gabrielle Olya, not only falsely claims Ayyadurai invented email, but says he "holds the patent for creating email." This is all kinds of wrong. He doesn't "hold the patent for creating email." He didn't create email, and he only got a copyright (not a patent) on a program called EMAIL long after email had been created. The People Magazine piece links to the bogus, now retracted, HuffPo story.

• E-Online "reporter" Mike Vulpo falsely calls Ayyadurai "the inventor of email" and also links to the bogus, now retracted HuffPo story. Even more bizarrely, Vulpo links to the now debunked Washington Post articles from a few years ago (which have a huge correction apologizing for the misreporting on Ayyadurai) saying "reports say he holds the copyright to the computer program known as "email." Others say he indeed came up with the term "email" when he was in high school in the late 1970s. Pretty impressive, right?" I love the hedges "reports say" and "others say" while ignoring the fact that his claims to have "invented" email are debunked. And while this is slightly more accurate in noting that he has a copyright in a program called "email," it's not "the" computer program called EMAIL, which falsely implies it was the first one. Even more bizarrely, this same piece was reposted to "NBC Bay Area." You would think, being in the Bay Area, that they might have reached out to folks actually in the tech industry to debunk Ayyadurai's ridiculous claims.

• ABC News / Good Morning America "reporter" Michael Rothman falsely claims that Ayyadurai is the "inventor of email" and makes it even more stupid by saying that Ayyadurai is "widely credited with having invented email." This is not even remotely true. He is only credited with that by himself and a tiny group of friends. Rothman also doesn't appear to understand even the basics of copyright by saying that Ayyadurai is "the first person to hold a copyright for 'EMAIL.'" Again, all he did was write a program called EMAIL, long after email had been invented. It also claims that Ayyadurai "currently teaches at MIT." A search of MIT's staff directory does not actually return Ayyadurai as a current staff member.

• CBS News expands their reputation for skipping over any fact checking by saying Ayyadurai "holds the patent for inventing email." Again, basically everything in that statement is wrong. He doesn't have a patent for inventing email. He got a copyright (very different) on a program called EMAIL. And he didn't invent email. At least CBS News is smart enough not to put a byline on this bogus reporting, but it also quotes the Huffington Post.

• UPI has an article that doesn't mention Ayyadurai's false claims in the text of the article, but does falsely call him "email creator" in the headline (which may not have been written by the reporter who wrote the article).

• The Daily Mail is somewhat famous for its lack of reporting skills and fact checking -- and the publication lives down to its reputation in an article by Chelsea White, which again repeats the myth that Ayyadurai invented email. And while it claims there's "controversy" over the claim (there isn't: everyone except him and his friends know he didn't invent email) it repeats the bogus claim that he has a patent on email: "Dr. Ayyadurai - who owns the patent to email and is often credited as the inventor of the electronic mail system amid some controversy." It also links to the Huffington Post.

• US Magazine "reporter" Madeline Boardman more or less repeats verbatim what others are saying about Ayyadurai being "the inventor" of email and that he is "widely credited" as such.

• Headline and Global News "reporter" Dina Exil repeatedly calls Ayyadurai the inventor of email and also claims he "is known for being the first person to invent email," except none of that is true. He's known for pretending that.

• Popcrush "reporter" Michelle McGahan calls Ayyadurai "the inventor of email" and also falsely claims he "owns the patent for email."

Now, considering that this just some random celebrity gossip, it's not that surprising that these "entertainment reporters" didn't bother to do any sort of fact checking. Why would they? And it's tough to fault them for going for the easy layup on the typical "famous person weds" story. But the problem here is that Ayyadurai has been focused on using any and all press mentions as "evidence" in his bogus campaign to declare himself the inventor of email, and now he has a number of other sources to cite, even though they're all totally wrong.

It is worth noting that not everyone fell for the spin. The LA Times and San Francisco Chronicle both focused mainly on Drescher and more or less ignored Ayyadurai's bogus claims (though, the LA Times does say he's at MIT, which again, does not list him as a current staff member).

The only publications I can find that really called out the bogus claims were Mashable, which noted that Drescher has married someone who "likes to claim he invented email" and Gawker, which noted that if Fran Drescher had actually read its previous articles about Ayyadurai, she might not have married him. What's funny is that in writing our series about the Huffington Post's bogus stories, some of our commenters insisted that this was actually proof as to why these "new media" players weren't trustworthy compared to traditional vetted media. And yet, above we have "trusted" media like ABC and CBS repeating totally false claims, while new media players like Mashable and Gawker are debunking them.

Anyway, I'd like to think this story is now over, but somehow I get the feeling that Ayyadurai will continue to press his bogus claims again and again and again.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:52 am

Guy Who Pretends He Invented Email Whines At Every Journalist For Writing Obit Of Guy Who Actually Helped Create Email
from the give-it-up-shiva dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Mar 8th 2016 11:40am

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Over the years, we've written a few times about Shiva Ayyadurai, a guy who's basically staked his entire life on the misleading to false claim that he "invented" email. Every couple of years he pops up again as he's able to fool some reporters into believing him. In 2012, he fooled the Washington Post and, astoundingly, the Smithsonian. In 2014, he was somehow able to get the Huffington Post to publish a multi-part series claiming he had "invented" email -- though after we called them out on it (and after they stood by it) -- those stories were eventually deleted. Ayyadurai also threatened to sue us for calling out his false claims, but there's been no lawsuit yet.

In those previous stories, we've explained why his claims are false in fairly great detail. Here's the quick version:

First off, no one denies that V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai -- an apparently very bright 14-year-old at the time -- wrote an email software program for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in 1978. By all accounts, it was a perfectly decent email system that allowed the UMDNJ staff to send electronic messages. Further, no one doubts that, in 1981, Ayyadurai registered the copyright on his program, which was called EMAIL. The problems are that (1) email was invented long before 1978, (2) the copyright is merely on the specific software code, not the idea of email, and (3) while Ayyadurai may have independently recreated the basics of email (and even added a nice feature), none of his work was even remotely related to what later became the standards of email. What's most sickening about this is that as part of this new PR campaign, Ayyadurai is ridiculously arguing that the reason no one believes him isn't because he's simply wrong, but because they can't stand to believe that "a dark-skinned immigrant kid, 14 years old," invented email, and that it was done in "one of the poorest cities in the US" rather than at a famous university.

Again, that might make for a nice story line if there were some factual basis behind it, but there isn't. The history of email is well-documented from multiple sources and it began way, way before 1978. And while early versions were somewhat crude, by 1978 they had basically everything that Ayyadurai claims to have invented (it is entirely believable that Ayyadurai, as a bright kid, independently came up with the same ideas, but he was hardly the first). There was a messaging system called MAILBOX at MIT in 1965. You can read all the details of it here, including source code. Ray Tomlinson is frequently credited with inventing the modern concept of email for the internet by establishing the @ symbol (in 1972) as a way of determining both the user and which computer to send the email to. By 1975, there were things like email folders (invented by Larry Roberts) and some other basic email apps. As is noted, by 1976 -- two years before Ayyadurai wrote his app -- email was 75% of all ARPANET traffic.


There's also the fact that even if Ayyadurai had done something different at that dental school (and there's no evidence he really did), that had no impact at all on the growth and success of email. No one else built out email systems because of what they saw Ayyadurai build. Email came and grew out of all of that other work (most of which pre-dated Ayyadurai). Hell, just look at RFC 733 from 1977 (before Ayyadurai started working at the school), which basically lays out all of the features of email.



MYTH #4: RFCS DEMONSTRATE "EMAIL" EXISTED PRIOR TO 1978

Requests for Comments (RFCs) were simply written documentations, not an email computer program, nor an email system. RFCs were literally meeting notes that recorded the meetings of electronic messaging researchers in the 1970s. As such, this is a flagrant misuse of the term “email”.

For example, sensationalist statements, such as the one by issued by Gizmodo in 2012 stating:

“[E]mail underpinnings were further cemented in 1977's RFC 733, a foundational document of what became the internet itself.”


are, at best misinformed, and completely lack understanding that email was the electronic interoffice mail system. Furthermore, email does not need the Internet to operate. Email systems initially ran on Wide Area Networks (WANs) and Local Area Networks (LANs), independent of the Internet and ARPANET. In fact, even today, one doesn’t need the Internet to run email.

Moreover, RFC 733 was a document to define an attempted standard that was never even fully accepted. The very term “RFC” means “Request for Comments”. It was a document created from meeting notes, and proposed ideas for message format and transmission, but said little about feature sets of individual electronic messaging or mail systems.

As the opening of RFC 733, it states:

“This specification is intended strictly as a definition of what is to be passed between hosts on the ARPANET. It is not intended to dictate either features which systems on the Network are expected to support, or user interfaces to message creating or reading programs.”— http://tools.ietf.org/rfc/rfc733.txt


Therefore, RFCs do not demonstrate that email existed prior to 1978. What RFCs demonstrate are that meetings and discussions were taking place on defining methods to exchange text messages, not the creation of email.

-- The Five Myths About Email’s History, by Deborah J. Nightingale, Ph.D.


Despite all of this, Ayyadurai refuses to give up his claims. Part of the way he's tried to get around this is to redefine email to include an increasingly long list of features, most of which are not at all necessary for email. The list changes over time and grows -- basically every time someone points out that all of the things he had on earlier lists were found in programs pre-dating Ayyadurai's own program. Ayyadurai also totally misrepresents what a copyright is, and insists that his copyright is just like a patent, because you couldn't patent software back then. That's basically not true. It is true that most software was not considered patentable back then (even though some was), but that still doesn't make the copyright the equivalent of a patent.

Throughout all of this, Ayyadurai and the weird collection of supporters he's built up -- bizarrely including Noam Chomsky and PR guru Larry Weber -- seemed to keep targeting Ray Tomlinson as some sort of evil mastermind behind the racist plot to take down Ayyadurai, because Tomlinson worked for Raytheon, and Weber, Chomsky and Ayyadurai could spin this bizarre and totally made up story of a big American defense contractor wanting to rewrite history to write out someone with "brown skin."


Tomlinson, as you probably have heard already, passed away this weekend, and received tremendous praise across the internet. Many referred to him as the "inventor of email" even though Tomlinson himself had long insisted that was not true either. Instead, he (unlike Ayyaudurai) long admitted that the growth and success of email involved many people working in pieces, building on each other's work successfully to build out the tool that we all use today. Still, Tomlinson actually does deserve tremendous credit for making email what it is today. The most notable claim -- and the one that everyone rightly talks about -- is his decision to make use of the @ symbol as a part of email addresses, in order to send email messages across networked computers, rather than just on a single machine (as had been done previously).

But, much more importantly, Tomlinson was actively engaged in setting the standards for email, such as in RFC 561 in 1973 (five years before Ayyadurai did anything), in which he and others laid out the standards for email headers.

Given all this, you'd hope that Ayyadurai could let Tomlinson's passing go in peace, and let people celebrate all of the work he did to actually bring email to the world. But, nope. That's not what's happening. Instead, Ayyadurai has gone on a Twitter rampage, tweeting at basically every journalist who has written about Tomlinson, and calling them liars. This is only a small snippet of about 3 hours worth of his tweets.

Image

Most of those are pointing to his "correction" posted to his website, claiming that anyone claiming Tomlinson invented email is wrong. He repeats the false claims about how it only qualifies as email based on his totally arbitrary list of features and also that people who say he's wrong are simply backing up Raytheon trying to deny him his rightful due because he's "not white." And, amazingly, he's actually convinced some publications to write about his claim, with very little fact checking. Meanwhile, when some point out that he's lying, Ayyadurai yells at them that they're repeating "racist lies," despite the fact that all of the evidence is well-documented.

Once again, to Shiva Ayyadurai: you were almost certainly a very bright kid, who created a nice software program as a teenager at the school where you were employed. That's great. And you should be proud of your accomplishments. But you did not invent email. You had nothing to do with the invention of email. And to continue to claim otherwise makes you look petty and silly -- especially at a time when everyone is celebrating the very real accomplishment of Ray Tomlinson.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:37 am

Guy Who Didn't Invent Email Sues Gawker For Pointing Out He Didn't Invent Email
from the shiva,-you-ain't-hulk-hogan,-either dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, May 11th 2016 10:44am

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Oh boy. Remember Shiva Ayyadurai? The guy who has gone to great lengths to claim that he "invented email," when the reality is that he appears to have (likely independently) written an early implementation of email long after others had actually "invented email." In the past we've called out examples where gullible press have fallen for his easily debunked claims, but he keeps popping back up. He somehow got an entire series into the Huffington Post, which was clearly crafted as a PR exercise in trying to rewrite history. The mainstream press repeated his bogus claims about inventing email after he married a TV star. And, most recently, he decided to scream at the press for memorializing Ray Tomlinson -- someone who actually did have a hand in creating email -- upon his death.

We've gone through in great detail as to why Ayyadurai is simply wrong in his claims. There's a lot more to it, but the summary we've written in the past is this:

First off, no one denies that V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai -- an apparently very bright 14-year-old at the time -- wrote an email software program for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in 1978. By all accounts, it was a perfectly decent email system that allowed the UMDNJ staff to send electronic messages. Further, no one doubts that, in 1981, Ayyadurai registered the copyright on his program, which was called EMAIL. The problems are that (1) email was invented long before 1978, (2) the copyright is merely on the specific software code, not the idea of email, and (3) while Ayyadurai may have independently recreated the basics of email (and even added a nice feature), none of his work was even remotely related to what later became the standards of email. What's most sickening about this is that as part of this new PR campaign, Ayyadurai is ridiculously arguing that the reason no one believes him isn't because he's simply wrong, but because they can't stand to believe that "a dark-skinned immigrant kid, 14 years old," invented email, and that it was done in "one of the poorest cities in the US" rather than at a famous university.

Again, that might make for a nice story line if there were some factual basis behind it, but there isn't. The history of email is well-documented from multiple sources and it began way, way before 1978. And while early versions were somewhat crude, by 1978 they had basically everything that Ayyadurai claims to have invented (it is entirely believable that Ayyadurai, as a bright kid, independently came up with the same ideas, but he was hardly the first). There was a messaging system called MAILBOX at MIT in 1965. You can read all the details of it here, including source code. Ray Tomlinson is frequently credited with inventing the modern concept of email for the internet by establishing the @ symbol (in 1972) as a way of determining both the user and which computer to send the email to. By 1975, there were things like email folders (invented by Larry Roberts) and some other basic email apps. As is noted, by 1976 -- two years before Ayyadurai wrote his app -- email was 75% of all ARPANET traffic.


For what it's worth, some have disputed the idea that he even added any features not existing in previous discussions. Nevertheless, he's not the "inventor" of email, no matter how many times he claims he is.

We, of course, have not been alone in debunking his claims. Back in 2012, a few weeks after we first debunked them, Gawker's Sam Biddle did a long and thorough takedown of Ayyadurai's claims. Apparently that story really angers Ayyadurai, and I'm guessing that seeing Hulk Hogan win his crazy lawsuit against Gawker helped Ayyadurai to decide to sue Gawker as well.

And, in keeping with my belief that this is all one giant PR stunt, the lawsuit filing was accompanied by a press release that repeats the same debunked claims, and selectively quotes the very media he fooled as evidence that he really invented email. The actual lawsuit is a joke. As in the Hogan case, Ayyadurai is suing not just Gawker, but also the company's founder Nick Denton, along with the author of the articles (in this case, Sam Biddle).

The filing again lays out Ayyadurai's highly misleading version of history, insisting again that getting the copyright on a program called EMAIL is the equivalent of "inventing" email. He continues to conflate patent and copyright law and misleadingly claim that because you couldn't get a patent on software at the time, a copyright is basically the same thing. This is wrong on both counts. You could patent some software at the time, and either way a copyright is nowhere near the equivalent.

19. At the time of Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention of email, software inventions could not be protected through software patents. It was not until 1994 that the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that computer programs were patentable as the equivalent of a “digital machine.” However, the Computer Software Act of 1980 allowed software inventions to be protected to a certain extent, by copyright. Therefore, in or about 1981, Dr. Ayyadurai registered his invention with the U.S. Copyright Office. On August 30, 1982, Dr. Ayyadurai was legally recognized by the United States government as the inventor of email through the issuance of the first Copyright registration for “Email,” “Computer Program for Electronic Mail System.” With that U.S. Copyright of the system, the word “email” entered the English language.1

-- Shiva Ayyadurai, Plaintiff, vs. Gawker Media, LLC, Sam Biddle, John Cook, Nicholas Guido Anthony Denton, Defendants


He also relies on debunked reports in Time Magazine and CBS. And also Wired, though he leaves out that Wired was just quoting Noam Chomsky, who bizarrely has become one of Ayyadurai's biggest defenders, and that the Wired story includes other evidence that Ayyadurai is wrong.

21. On or about November 15, 2011, TIME magazine published an article titled “The Man Who Invented Email,” which outlines the history of email and Dr. Ayyadurai’s invention. The article states that “email – as we currently know it – was born” when Dr. Ayyadurai created it replicating an interoffice mail system at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey. The article states that “the original system was set up for doctors to communicate electronically using the [physical] template they were already used to” and the interface “hasn’t changed all that much” in becoming the email system we know and use today. The TIME article also states that in “1981, Shiva took honors at the Westinghouse Science Awards for his ‘High Reliability, Network-Wide, Electronic Mail System’” and that in 1982 he “won a White House competition for developing a system to automatically analyze and sort email messages.”

22. In June 2012, Wired magazine reported that: “Email … the electronic version of the interoffice, inter-organizational mail system, the email we all experience today, was invented in 1978 by [Dr. Ayyadurai] …. The facts are indisputable.”

23. In July 2015, CBS reported on The Henry Ford Innovation Nation, hosted by Mo Rocca: “Next time your fingers hit the keyboard to write a quick email, you might want to say, thank you to Shiva Ayyadurai.... he is credited with inventing email…. in the late 1970s.”

-- Shiva Ayyadurai, Plaintiff, vs. Gawker Media, LLC, Sam Biddle, John Cook, Nicholas Guido Anthony Denton, Defendants


Ayyadurai claims that Gawker's articles were defamatory, specifically stating:

As described herein, the February 2012 Article arises to the level of defamation per se, in that it falsely states that “[Dr.] Ayyadurai is a fraud.”

As described herein, the March 2012 Article falsely alleges that:

a) Dr. Ayyadurai engaged in “semantic tricks, falsehoods, and a misinformation campaign.”

b) Dr. Ayyadurai is engaged in “revisionism” in his claim of invention of email.

As described herein, the 2014 Article arises to the level of defamation per se, by stating that Dr. Ayyadurai is a “fraud,” thus falsely accusing Dr. Ayyadurai of a crime and causing prejudice to his personal and professional reputation and business.

The 2014 Article also falsely states:

a) Dr. Ayyadurai is a “renowned liar” with respect to his statements that he invented email,

b) Dr. Ayyadurai is a “big fake,” and

c) Dr. Ayyadurai is engaged in “cyber-lies.”


These defamation claims seem extremely weak. First off, as the detailed records show, Ayyadurai did not invent email. So truth is generally a good response to defamation claims. Second, even if he did create email (and he didn't), most of these statements would be protected as either statements of opinion or rhetorical hyperbole. Finally, Ayyadurai as a self-proclaimed public persona would have to show actual malice for it to be defamatory. Hilariously, the lawsuit claims no actual malice is necessary, which is nonsense. Ayyadurai is so focused on making himself a famous person over his exaggerated claims to have invented email that for him to try to argue he's not a public figure is laughable. His lawyers also show no evidence that there is actual malice from Gawker but insist that if they could get to the discovery phase, they could find evidence supporting actual malice.

72. The 2014 Article also falsely states:

a) Dr. Ayyadurai is a “renowned liar” with respect to his statements that he invented email,

b) Dr. Ayyadurai is a “big fake,” and

c) Dr. Ayyadurai is engaged in “cyber-lies.”

73. These false statements wrongly accuse Dr. Ayyadurai of having made statements and acted in a manner that would subject him to hatred, distrust, contempt, aversion, ridicule and disgrace in the minds of a substantial number in the community, and were calculated to harm his social and business relationships, and did harm his social and business relationships.

74. The statements made intentionally, purposefully and with actual malice by Defendants were false and no applicable privilege or authorization protecting the statements can attach to them.

75. Plaintiff has been seriously damaged as a direct and proximate cause of the falsity of the statements made by Defendants in an amount to be determined at trial. The false statements attribute conduct, characteristics and conditions incompatible with the proper exercise of Plaintiff’s business and duties as an inventor, scientist and entrepreneur. Because the statements were widely disseminated on the Internet, they were also likely and intended to hold the Plaintiff up to ridicule and to damage his social and business relationships.

76. The above-quoted published statements constitute egregious conduct constituting moral turpitude. As such, in addition to compensatory damages and/or presumed damages, Plaintiff demands punitive damages relating to Defendants’ making of the above-quoted defamatory statements, in an amount to be determined at trial.

-- Shiva Ayyadurai, Plaintiff, vs. Gawker Media, LLC, Sam Biddle, John Cook, Nicholas Guido Anthony Denton, Defendants


There are then three other claims: one for "intentional interference with prospective economic advantage," one for "intentional infliction of emotional distress" (the "my feelz!" argument), and one for (and I'm not kidding) "negligent hiring and retention."

Ayyadurai goes into detail about how people pointing out that he is exaggerating his claims has made people less willing to work with him. But that's not the fault of accurate reporting. It's the fault of him focusing so much on a false claim to have invented email.

This is the situation here: Defendants’ false statements in the articles at issue had the effect of so severely discrediting Dr. Ayyadurai—based on the false statement that he is a “fraud”—that Dr. Ayyadurai’s career was severely damaged. As a direct result of Defendants’ publication of the false and defamatory statements about Dr. Ayyadurai, on information and belief, Dr. Ayyadurai has lost teaching positions at MIT, lost several paid speaking engagements at the time and in the future, lost an accolade and display dedicated to his invention at the Smithsonian Institute, lost contracts and renewals, lost opportunities for investment in his emerging companies, suffered substantial personal and professional reputational harm, and suffered substantial harm to his career, business and income.


I'm sure that's distressing, but it's not the fault of Gawker for pointing out that Ayyadurai was exaggerating what he did. It's what happens when you exaggerate like that and make grandiose claims that are not accurate.

The "negligent hiring" claims seems to just be an attempt to attack and mock Sam Biddle. I'm not a Sam Biddle fan by any stretch of the imagination. I think he has a history of taking things completely out of context and creating sensational posts that are misleading, at best. But that's not defamation. It's just bad reporting. And Ayyadurai's claims about "negligent hiring" basically accuse Biddle of being a drug addict and, potentially, mentally unstable. That claim is not going to last very long and seems to serve no purpose other than to attack Biddle's reputation.

The filing also spends a ton of completely wasted space on other lawsuits against Gawker, as if trying to prove that the company has a history of bad actions. But the litany of bad actions listed are extremely exaggerated. Yes, Gawker has been sued for defamation, but Gawker has not lost those cases and they are extremely unlikely to lose them. I mean, you're reaching really, really low if you're citing Chuck Johnson's laughable defamation lawsuit against Gawker that has already been tossed out of a Missouri court for being ridiculous. And yes, Johnson also filed an identical case in California, but it's going nowhere (it was so identical that it focused on the harms in Missouri, despite being filed in California). But Ayyadurai's lawyers pretend that it's evidence of Gawker's defamatory history:

Gawker has been sued multiple times for defamation, including currently in an action in New York State Court, by the Daily Mail newspaper, and in an action in California by an individual named Charles Johnson, for writing and publishing false and unsubstantiated rumors that Mr. Johnson had been involved in misconduct and criminal activity.


The lawsuit also cites a variety of other lawsuits involving Gawker that have nothing to do with defamation at all, including (obviously) the Hulk Hogan case that will almost certainly be overturned on appeal, and also a copyright lawsuit from Dr. Phil and a few other examples of people being unhappy with Gawker's coverage.

This case should go nowhere fast, and Ayyadurai may be opening himself up to a world of hurt in exposing himself to discovery, should the case even reach that stage. Unfortunately for Gawker, Massachusetts -- where Ayyadurai filed this lawsuit -- has an anti-SLAPP statute that is much more limited and unfortunately may not be that helpful to Gawker. Yet another reason why we need a federal anti-SLAPP law as soon as possible.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:42 am

Univision Execs Have No Backbone: Pull A Bunch Of Gawker Stories Over Legal Disputes
from the no-credibility dept
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Sep 12th 2016 6:27am

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People celebrating the "demise" of Gawker in being forced into bankruptcy by a questionable lawsuit and ruling from Hulk Hogan, financed by Peter Thiel, keep insisting that it has no real impact on the freedom of the press. And yet... things keep showing that's wrong. Gawker filed for bankruptcy and sold off its assets to media giant Univision, which agreed to close down the flagship Gawker site and redistribute some of the reporters to other sites. But late Friday, Univision management made another decision, and this one is horrific: they agreed to delete six stories on the site (with a seventh one being considered) because those stories were the subject of lawsuits against Gawker.

The reasoning given by Univision is that it only agreed to buy the assets of Gawker, not the liabilities, and keeping those stories posted gave it liability. First of all, this is wrong on the legal side of things. As Gawker's executive editor, John Cook (who fought this decision) notes, Univision doesn't take on the liability here:

Though the posts were published by Gawker Media, and therefore under the so-called “first publication rule” should only be the legal responsibility of the Gawker Media estate being left behind in the transaction, Unimoda’s legal analysis was that the continued publication of the posts under the new entity would constitute the adoption of liability, and that Unimoda is therefore obligated to delete them.


But that's not the most disturbing thing here. The really problematic issue is that the stories that are being removed involve stories where the lawsuits are almost entirely completely bogus SLAPP suits designed to annoy Gawker, rather than with any serious legal basis -- for example, the two stories that Gawker published about Shiva Ayyadurai, the guy who keeps trying to convince the world that he invented email when he didn't. We've discussed Ayyadurai and his bogus claims many times, and also covered the lawsuit. There is no legitimate reason to take down those posts.

Perhaps even more incredible is that Univision also agreed to take down the story that nutty troll Chuck C. Johnson had filed a lawsuit against Gawker. That's a lawsuit that is so ridiculous it was laughed out of court in Missouri. And while Johnson filed a nearly identical lawsuit (including references to Missouri) in California, it was similarly going nowhere, and Johnson recently said that he'd dropped the case.

And yet Univision voted to delete the story anyway.

This is... bad. It's one thing to make a decision to pull a story once you've analyzed the situation and decided that the story has problems and should be pulled. But that's not what happened here. Univision execs flat out told Cook that this was solely about not taking on the liability. In other words, Univision has absolutely zero backbone to stand up for its journalists. That's shameful.

This move basically immediately does two things. First, it alerts anyone who wants a heckler's veto to threaten Univision with a lawsuit. Second, it should immediately cause any good journalist working for Univision or its properties (including Gawker and Fusion) to start looking for a new job elsewhere. If you can't have your publisher back you up on things like this, that's a dangerous place for a reporter to work. Kudos to Cook for trying to stand up to Univision, but if those execs wouldn't listen to him, the company's got really big problems.

I communicated to Felipe and Jay in the strongest terms that deleting these posts is a mistake, and that disappearing true posts about public figures simply because they have been targeted by a lawyer who conspired with a vindictive billionaire to destroy this company is an affront to the very editorial ethos that has made us successful enough to be worth acquiring. I told them that I am proud that this company refused to delete its accurate posts about Shiva Ayudurrai’s false claim to have invented the email system of communication, and that I am proud that our decision not to take down accurate posts about Mitch Williams’ meltdown at a children’s baseball game was vindicated by a federal judge, who ruled in our favor in his case against us. I am mortified to see them taken down now. We are at the center of an unprecedented assault on the ability of reporters and editors to challenge and critique public figures. While I believe that Univision is a company that values and defends aggressive, independent reporting, the decision to remove these posts is, in my view, at odds with its tradition of confronting bullies with honesty.


Univision just did a big thing badly. And it sullies the company's reputation and brand, and it makes all of the company's remaining journalistic staff look bad.

And, of course, this is the internet, where trying to make stuff disappear never works. I went over to archive.is soon after the announcement came out (and before the stories had been taken down) and every single one had been re-archived (many had been previously archived) within the previous hour. So if you're curious what was in the stories too hot for Univision's backboneless execs, here they are:

The Inventor of Email Did Not Invent Email?
Corruption, Lies, and Death Threats: The Crazy Story of the Man Who Pretended to Invent Email
Man Acquitted Of Sexual Assault Sues Blog For Calling Him Serial Rapist
Wait, Did Clowntroll Blogger Chuck Johnson Shit On The Floor One Time?
Uber Driver in California Will Be Considered Employee, Not Contractor
Mitch Williams Ejected From Child's Baseball Game For Arguing, Cursing
Witnesses: Mitch Williams Called Child "A Pussy," Ordered Beanball

This is why we need publications that don't back down in the face of SLAPP suits. This is why we need stronger anti-SLAPP laws (and a federal anti-SLAPP law). This is why we express concerns about billionaires ganging up to sue publications out of existence in a vengeance play. Publications are vulnerable, but they're supposed to stand up to bogus threats, not cave in out of fear.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:44 am

Ridiculous: Nick Denton Settles Remaining Charles Harder Lawsuits, Agrees To Delete Perfectly True Stories
from the that's-fucked-up dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Nov 2nd 2016 10:42am

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Congrats Peter Thiel: you've successfully censored true stories reported by the press. Just a little while ago, Nick Denton posted that the remaining three cases filed by lawyer Charles Harder against Gawker, Denton and some reporters had been settled, with the agreement to remove the stories. Harder, of course, is the lawyer that Peter Thiel set up with his own practice, with the stated mission of filing lawsuits that would kill Gawker. Thiel/Harder "won" back when this effort forced Gawker into bankruptcy and then a fire sale to Univision. But now the remaining stories have been officially killed off. This includes the famous Hulk Hogan story and case -- meaning that the appeal, which basically every lawyer admits would have resulted in overturning the lower court's jury verdict, is dead. I know the Gawker haters will cheer this outright censorship (or, worse, insist that this proves that the case was legitimate -- despite the fact it never was). But let's focus on one of the other stories that is getting censored here thanks to Peter Thiel's actions.

It's the one that we wrote about the most: Shiva Ayyaudrai claims to have invented email when he was a kid.
He did not. I won't go through all the details again, but as a kid in 1978, Ayyadurai did apparently create (independently) a software program for electronic mail for a college he worked for. By all accounts, it was a good program that was useful. He named it EMAIL and eventually registered a copyright for that piece of software. That's it. It's a neat accomplishment for a kid. But it is not "inventing email" by any stretch of the imagination.

That's because (1) every single thing that Ayyadurai did had already been done elsewhere, often many years earlier, and (2) all of that other work was done in public settings via RFCs and the process that eventually led to the email systems that we use today. Ayyadurai's email system... contributed to nothing. It was late to the game and it never went any further. Again, it was impressive that as a kid he basically independently created an electronic mailing system, but that's different from "inventing email." But, for whatever reason, Ayyadurai has staked his entire identity on the outright false claim that he invented email. He's written a book about it. He has a whole webpage about it. And he keeps pushing the story on the press, including teaming up with a famous PR guy and (???) Noam Chomsky to argue that there was a giant conspiracy to deny him his rightful designation as the inventor of email. He often claims this is because he's of Indian descent, ignoring that one of the actual inventors of email, on RFC 561 is Abhay Bhushan (who also created FTP) and is, also, of Indian descent.

Ayyadurai is so obsessed with his false claim of creating email, that he even went on a petulant Twitter rampage after one of the actual creators of email, Ray Tomlinson, passed away earlier this year, yelling at any journalist who accurately credited Tomlinson's work on email.

Along with us, one of the other publications that highlighted Ayyadurai's bullshit claims was... Gawker. And, then, in May Ayyadurai sued Gawker using Charles Harder as his lawyer, over two Gawker articles on Ayyadurai. Those articles were completely accurate. Ayyadurai did not invent email. He wants the world to believe he did, despite mountains of evidence that says he's wrong. Gawker's reporting was entirely accurate. This is not about "sex tapes" or "privacy" or any of the stuff people want to talk about with the Hulk Hogan story. This was exposing someone who was blatantly misrepresenting history for his own personal aggrandizing.

And now it's gone, because continuing to fight the lawsuit was too much. As Denton notes:

But all-out legal war with Thiel would have cost too much, and hurt too many people, and there was no end in sight.


Denton notes that, especially given the reporters who were directly sued in these cases, it was best to just move on to "focus on activities more productive than endless litigation. Life is short, for most of us."

That's true, but it's also bullshit. Ayyadurai has been given the heckler's veto and will likely crow about how this vindicates him. He's tried to twist a variety of other things as "proof" that he's the inventor of email. As of writing this he hasn't said anything on his Twitter feed, other than to retweet someone saying "congratulations to [Shiva], inventor of email" and someone else tweeting about the Denton story. Of course, perhaps because he's too busy promoting some sketchy "health" system and conspiracy theories about the election -- oh, and also having conversations with confirmed asshole and colleague in bullshit, censorious lawsuits, actor James Woods.

Image

So, not only is he not the inventor of email, he's also pretty clueless about how polls work and basic statistics too. Seems like a real winner.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:48 am

Here's The Truth: Shiva Ayyadurai Didn't Invent Email
from the let's-try-this-again dept
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Nov 3rd 2016

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So, yesterday we wrote about how Nick Denton had settled all the remaining legal disputes that Gawker had involving three lawsuits filed by lawyer Charles Harder. Most of the attention was paid to the big one -- the settlement with Hulk Hogan. We, however, focused on one of the other cases, since it was one that we followed closely and which showed how Peter Thiel was full of shit in claiming he only bankrolled these anti-Gawker lawsuits to "protect privacy" (and, yes, it's hilarious to see the early backer of both Facebook and Palantir pretending to care about privacy).

What Is this "Privacy" of Which You Speak?

Some people live in the world as they wish it were. Want to find some of those people? Google the phrase "no constitutional right to privacy." You will find lots of articles proclaiming this to be the truth, but it is just plain wrong. Ten States' Constitutions protect the Right to Privacy, and Florida, where the Hogan trial is taking place, is one of them. [3] Article I, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution states in relevant part: "Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person's private life except as otherwise provided herein." Take note that the first part of the sentence protects the "right to be let alone," and while the second part of the sentence seems to limit the effect of Sec. 23 to protection from "governmental intrusion," this is in fact the place where it is most needed in the forty states that lack such a constitutional protection. [5]

This phrase "the right to be let alone" has a history. It was coined by Thomas M. Cooley in his law treatise, "Law of Torts," first published in 1880. [6] The phrase was adopted by Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis in a Harvard Law Review article published in 1890, because Warren had been suffering from attacks in the press. This article popularized the idea, which motivated judges to recognize a right to privacy under certain circumstances, and moved legislatures to enact statutes that gave the victims of privacy invasion the right to sue for damages.

There are four types of privacy invasion lawsuits, all of which can be pursued in Florida, as well as California and many other states: (1) appropriation of name or likeness (stealing publicity), (2) intrusion into private spaces (peeping and spying),(3) public disclosure of private facts (spreading embarrassing truths), and (4) publicizing true facts that cast the victim in a false light (very similar to the previous type of claim, but the misleading facts need not have been private).

-- It Takes A Lot to Laugh (It Takes A Train to Cry): The Tragedy of Hulk Hogan, by Charles Carreon


The case of Shiva Ayyadurai is the really telling one. For almost five years now, we've been among those explaining why Shiva Ayyadurai's claim that he invented email is complete bullshit. It's not true. Not even remotely. What does appear to be true is that as a fairly bright kid, Ayyadurai was working for a small college in New Jersey and he wrote an electronic messaging program for the school, which he named Email. It was not the first. It was not the last. It was nothing special. Nothing about what Ayyadurrai did was new -- even if he came up with the ideas entirely on his own. Basically every feature that he put in the application was previously discussed on open mailing lists and RFCs about the internet and the messaging systems that would be grafted onto it -- sometimes many years earlier. Ayyadurai tries to rely on the fact that he got a copyright for his program as proof, hoping to confuse people who don't understand the difference between a copyright and a patent. As we've noted in the past: Microsoft has a copyright on the "Windows" operating system. That doesn't mean it invented windows-based graphical user interfaces (because it did not).

Apparently, part of the settlement involved Ayyadurai getting $750,000 along with the agreement to take down the article (it's not entirely clear to me if the article was still up, since Univision had already taken it down). As plenty of people quickly noted on Twitter this was insane. Ayyadurai has spent many years falsely claiming to have invented email and trying to tarnish the obituaries of Ray Tomlinson who was critical in the creation of email (though was humble enough to admit that no one individual actually "invented" email). And now he was getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for suing a news site that correctly explained the actual truth: Shiva Ayyadurai did not invent email. I'm sure a good chunk of that money is going to Charles Harder. Who knows if any of it makes its way back to Peter Thiel, who recently explained that he had to help Hulk Hogan because mere "single digit millionaires" couldn't fight back.

In response to this, Ayyadurai has put out a self-congratulatory press release claiming that the settlement supports his blatantly false claims:

Certain of the settlement terms are incorporated within Gawker Media's latest proposed plan of liquidation, filed today, and include a proposed settlement payment to Dr. Ayyadurai and removal of the article at issue. More details will be forthcoming. Dr. Ayyadurai stated: "History will reflect that this settlement is a victory for truth."


No, it's not. It's a victory for bullshit. It's a victory for trying to rewrite history and smear the actual truth. And it was aided by Peter Thiel. I do wonder, though, if Ayyadurai continues to sue publications that properly point out that he is not telling the truth, and targets us, if Thiel will come to our aid. Hell, I'm not even a single-digit millionaire. So, clearly, he's going to help us out, right?

Let's discuss some truth: Ayyadurai did not invent email. Ayyadurai also filed a highly questionable lawsuit over a news story correctly claiming he did not invent email. Ayyadurai's case was only settled because Nick Denton and what remains of Gawker recognized that it was easier to move on with things and end these cases. For Peter Thiel to champion this and for Ayyadurai to claim that his little spat -- which got caught up in the whirlwind of a billionaire's personal grudge -- is a "victory for truth" is complete bullshit. That's the truth.
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:53 am

Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt
from the reign-of-the-anonymous dept
by Leigh Beadon
Sun, Nov 6th 2016 12:00pm

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


This week, we faced a disastrous plan from the Copyright Office to strip thousands of sites of their DMCA safe harbor protections if they don't re-register with a new system. We suggested that the correct way would be to engage in a proactive campaign rather than holding people's feet over the fire, and Cowardly Anonymous won most insightful comment of the week by going one step further:

No. The correct way is to give DCMA safe harbour to *all*. Blanketed. No registration required.


In the second place spot, we've got I. T. Guy with another simple response to the whole mess:

Dumbest thing I have ever heard of.

Don't forget to go register for your First Amendment rights now.


For editor's choice on the insightful side, we start out with an anonymous comment on the subject of police abuse, making the interesting observation that the "bad apples" metaphor gets thrown around in very different ways depending on the subject:

To quote a couple recent argument used by some US politicians to reject the acceptance of ANY Syrian refugees into the US.

- If you have a 5 pound bag of peanuts and 10 peanuts in the bag are deadly poisonous, would you feed them to your kids? -


And

- If a bowl of skittles had 3 poisonous ones in it would you eat from it? -

When it comes to accepting refugees this is an argument that should entice people to reject them all but somehow the same argument keeps being made about the police whit totally different expectations. That we should totally accept all of them no questions asked even though there is overwhelming evidence that we have more than a few bad apples causing actual deaths rather than the metaphorical ones implied by the politicians arguments for rejecting refugees...


Next, we head to our surprising post about Shiva Ayyadurai (surprising in that he's still trying) — which will be the source of both our winners on the funny side — where another anonymous commenter laid things out in detail:

Here's a link to the v6 manual page for mail:

http://wwwlehre.dhbw-stuttgart.de/~helb ... /mail.html

(Incidentally, note that the "see also" portion of this man page references "write" -- an instant messaging program. Yeah. In 1975.)

Here's a link to a well-researched page about Ayyadurai's bogus, lying, totally false claims:

http://www.sigcis.org/ayyadurai

Here's an entire web site about the history of email:

http://emailhistory.org/

Here's Tom Van Vleck's well-researched history of email:

http://multicians.org/thvv/mail-history.html

I just took the time to search some archives to see if fraudster Ayyadurai actually showed up anywhere. I can find no trace of his alleged source code in any of the standard repositories of the time, e.g., Usenet's net.sources or successor newsgroups such as comp.sources.misc. I find no trace of him in any of the RFCs, the standards documents which trace the history and evolution of email. I find no messages from him in any of the mailing lists discussing mail, SMTP (the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), mail servers, mail clients, mail system operations, or anything else. To contrast and compare: there are THOUSANDS of message from many of the key contributors and hundreds of thousands more from people who had a problem or solved a problem, found a bug or published a fix, encountered a configuration issue or published a how-to. Ayyadurai simply doesn't exist at all - which isn't surprising, because his piffling and unimportant project existed in isolation and contributed precisely zero to the development of email.

Ayyadurai is particularly annoying because of his bogus claims of racism: those of us who were actually there know that the ARPAnet and CSnet and Usenet and BITnet were built by ridiculously diverse groups of people: just look at the names on the documents and the software. Ayyadurai's claims are annoying and absolutely false: they're a cheap stunt designed to make him appear the victim, and they're insulting to everyone who actually has been disadvantaged because of their race or ethnicity.

And he's annoying because of his willingness to take credit from those who did the heavy lifting -- Ray Tomlinson being one of them. All of those people have eschewed credit, preferring to see their work as building on that of others and minimizing their own contributions. Ayyadurai has seized on this to claim everything for his own, when in fact he contributed nothing of value or interest.

I kinda hope he sues TechDirt, because the discovery process will be fascinating. He will face dozens, if not hundreds, of subject-matter experts -- people like me who have been running real mail servers (not his bogus, worthless tripe) for decades. People who wrote the code. People who wrote the standards. People who have archives of all of this going back 20, 30, 40 years. People who are willing to invest a lot of time stacking supporting evidence to the ceiling and giving expert first-hand testimony.

Ayyadurai is a liar. He is a fraud. He is a charlatan. He is an unimportant nobody who has contributed nothing and deserves to be remembered as a posing, self-aggrandizing asshole -- nothing more.


But of course, at this point, such lengthy explanations feel almost pointless — they clearly have no effect on Ayyadurai himself, anyway. So we head to our first place comment on the funny side, where another anonymous commenter reiterated the simple fact:

You forgot to mention that Shiva Ayyadurai did not invent email.


In second place on the funny side, we have yet another anonymous commenter suggesting a way to honor Ayyadurai:

We need a "Shiva Ayyadurai Didn't Invent Email Day" where we all spam the dude with stories, posts, et al of how he didn't invent email.

We will call this day... Everyday.


For editor's choice on the funny side, we start with a comment from sorrykb presenting a new wrinkle to the Copyright Office conspiracy theory:

Admit it, Masnick, you and Google both are paid shills for Big Library.


Finally, after the Thai government demanded that a chat app reveal any users who insult the king, one more anonymous commenter interpreted that in the silliest way possible:

I don't really see why Thailand needs to know if someone insults Elvis.


That's all for this week, folks!
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Re: Shiva Ayyadurai suing TechDirt over Stories Saying He Di

Postby admin » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:56 am

Actual Creators Of Email Not At All Happy The Fake Creator Of Email Got Paid For His Bogus Claim
from the as-they-should-be dept
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 7th 2016

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


As we noted last week, Shiva Ayyadurai, a guy who didn't invent email but has built his entire reputation on the false claim that he did, was able to cash in on the settlement agreed to by Nick Denton to end all of the Charles Harder-related lawsuits against Gawker. Again, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, because of a personal grudge against Gawker, set up lawyer Charles Harder on a retainer, basically agreeing to help fund any lawsuit against Gawker that might help destroy the company. Harder filed a few, but the big one was the one filed by Hulk Hogan. Hogan won that (after losing the first few attempts and then going jurisdiction shopping for a court that would side with him). Almost everyone with any knowledge of the law agreed it was likely the verdict would lose on appeal (the appeals court had already ruled earlier on this case in favor of Gawker). Either way, Denton finally settled the case rather than push on, because of the cost of defending it and because Thiel had promised to keep funding the case as far as it would go. And, of course, it wasn't just that one case.

The Ayyadurai case was the most ridiculous of all. Ayyadurai did not invent email by any stretch of the imagination, but likes to go around falsely claiming he did, and smearing those who actually did the work. Thomas Haigh, a historian who keeps the most canonical explanation of Ayyadurai's misleading claims (including how they continue to morph and change and evolve over time) has the full story, but Gawker, among many others (including us) pointed out that he did not invent email. That led Ayyadurai and Charles Harder to sue Gawker -- presumably because (1) the Gawker/Harder/Thiel thing and (2) because Gawker used inflammatory language. The "settlement" meant that Ayyadurai got $750,000, though we're guessing a decent chunk of that likely went to Harder. Ayyadurai, somewhat ridiculous, put out a press release laughably claiming that "this settlement is a victory for truth." It's not. It's the opposite. It's a victory for the opposite of truth and shows how abusing the legal system can get you paid out -- especially when there's a billionaire willing to help fund the questionable lawsuits.

Anyway, it appears that those who were actually involved in the creation of email are pretty damn upset by this turn of events and are speaking out. If you go back to the early RFC on the creation of email, like 524, 561, 680 and 724 and 733, you see that all of the key concepts in email were being publicly discussed and implemented prior to Ayyadurai writing his email program in 1978.

One of the authors of those last two RFCs (724 and 733) is David Crocker, and he's not pleased with Ayyadurai trying to rewrite him out of the history of email -- and especially not with Ayyadurai getting a ton of cash for doing so. For what it's worth, Crocker and Ayyadurai have tangled before -- when Ayyadurai took some comments from Crocker so out of context to be borderline fraudulent (Ayyadurai took two separate sentences, that were separated by pages in a report Crocker wrote, totally out of context to falsely imply that Crocker said that no one was working on email in 1977). As you can imagine, Crocker is not pleased with the latest windfall for Ayyadurai.

Dave Crocker, who helped write several foundational standards documents about messaging over the internet, told Gizmodo that Ayyadurai’s settlement with Gawker Media represents a victory for a version of the history of email’s development that isn’t supported by evidence. “I grew up being taught that the truth is always a sufficient defense against claims of defamation,” Crocker said upon hearing about the settlement. “Given the extensive documentation about the history of email, I’m sorry to find that that the adage no longer holds true.”


Gizmodo also spoke to one of his co-authors, John Vittal, who first implemented features like "reply" and "forward," and he also found the whole thing baffling.

John Vittal, one of Crocker’s co-authors, seconded his frustration. Vittal is best known in the traditional history of email for being the first person to implement “reply” and “forward” functions. “What’s true is true, and you can’t hide from it, and shouldn’t be able to capitalize on thwarting it,” said Vittal. “To me, it’s a sad day.”


Meanwhile, it appears that throughout all of this, Ayyadurai continues to fool people. I had missed this, but earlier this year, he actually got onto CBS with comedian Mo Rocca on his "Henry Ford's Innovation Nation" in which Rocca falls hook, line and sinker for the bogus claims by Ayyadurai. CBS, of course, happens to also be the home of Walter O'Brien, whose origin story is quite similar to Ayyadurai's. Either way, as long as Ayyadurai continues to falsely hold himself out as the inventor of email, when he is not, people should continue to call out that his claims are simply false.
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