Lawyer for “inventor of e-mail” sends threat letter over social media posts

Joe Mullin and Cyrus Farivar
Fairfax Media / Getty Images News
Shiva Ayyadurai
Shiva Ayyadurai
Shiva Ayyadurai, the man who says he invented e-mail, has already sued two different tech publications for writing about his controversial claims. Now he also wants posts that he believes are defamatory to be removed from at least one social media network.
Charles Harder, the attorney representing Ayyadurai, sent an e-mail on Tuesday to Diaspora, an open-source social network, demanding that three allegedly defamatory posts be removed. The posts were written by Roy Schestowitz, who also writes the blog Techrights.org.
"Schestowitz is engaged in harassment, character assassination and unlawful conduct against Dr. Ayyadurai, including falsely accusing him of being a ‘liar’ and a ‘fraud,’" writes Harder. He continues:
The falsity of the Posts significantly damages Dr. Ayyadurai’s persona and public image. Moreover, through the Posts, Mr. Schestowitz seeks to incite a wave of harassment against Dr. Ayyadurai on the Internet, as well as to inspire additional false and berating commentary about Dr. Ayyadurai. Mr. Schestowitz has used Diaspora as a platform to wrongfully and unlawfully harm Dr. Ayyadurai’s personal and professional reputation, which he has worked so hard, for decades, to achieve.
The Posts also constitute intentional infliction of emotional distress, and qualify under the law to establish liability against you. Remedies include monetary damages, punitive damages, and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief.
Ayyadurai has proclaimed for years that he invented e-mail, and tells his story on his website, InventorOfEmail.com. In 2012, Gizmodo wrote an article calling Ayyadurai’s claims false. The news website also recited the more commonly accepted history of e-mail, which revolves around electronic mail programs made for the ARPAnet, the predecessor to the Internet.
Last year, Ayyadurai sued Gizmodo publisher Gawker Media over those articles, saying they defamed him. Gawker went bankrupt after losing a separate libel case regarding a sex tape of Terry Bollea, also known as Hulk Hogan. Ayyadurai’s case was settled in late 2016 for $750,000.
Earlier this month, Ayyadurai sued Techdirt, alleging that 14 posts that were published on the site, some of which cited the Gizmodo work and its subsequent takedown, also libeled him. Techdirt has said it will fight that lawsuit.
On Thursday, Techdirt reported on the threat letter, which Ars Technica has also reviewed. The letter contains language that it is "confidential," "copyright protected" and "not for publication or dissemination."

Tweets remain

Diaspora was created in 2010, as a sort of open-source alternative to Facebook. The social network is not owned by any single person or entity—nodes are operated by different people on different servers.
In this case, the administrator of that particular node, or "pod," where this post was published, received the e-mail, and asked Schestowitz to remove two Diaspora posts. One of the three Ayyadurai-related Diaspora posts mentioned in the letter still remain online.
"For me it’s not like a mortifying thing," Schestowitz told Ars in an interview. "I’ve had worse experiences. I was kind of annoyed, but I was thinking, 'here’s my chance to help shut down this charlatan.'"
Schestowitz also has several tweets related to Ayyadurai that remain online, including this one:
"In 1978, as a 14-year-old boy, while working at a small medical college in Newark, New Jersey, I invented e-mail, demonstrating the essence of the American Dream that innovation can occur anytime, any place by anybody," Ayyadurai e-mailed Ars. "And, anyone who defames will be held accountable."
Harder didn’t respond to questions about the demand letter. Twitter also did not respond to Ars' question as to whether it had received a similar letter from Harder.
Lawyer for “inventor of e-mail” sends threat letter over social media posts Reviewed by Bizpodia on 16:43 Rating: 5

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