We’re Small Bloggers, but We’re Feeling the Fallout: Ellora’s Cave and the Suit Against Dear Author

I can’t think of anything knowledgeable to say about the Ellora’s Cave lawsuit against Dear Author that other people aren’t covering.  But as someone who writes, publishes, and blogs, obviously I’m very concerned with following and reading about it.

People are already expressing concern that this will have a chilling effect on the greater conversation, that it will impact what bloggers, reviewers, authors, and other industry people are willing to say.  And that terrifies me.

Just this morning, in fact, I was chatting with some of my fellow Menagerie members about what we might blog about this week.  I suggested someone might want to write about the Ellora’s Cave issues, maybe a Menagerie member who had something new to say or who had more knowledge of the romance scene and/or publishing as a whole than I have.  It would certainly be a post I’d be interested in reading.  Well, we’re all following it, but nobody in chat at the time felt they had any new or informative opinions suitable for a blog post.

Later on another Menagerie member popped on and we were talking more about blogging.  And this conversation happened (edited for clarity):

Me: I was suggesting earlier that someone blog about Ellora’s Cave and their suit against Dear Author, but nobody’s into it :p
Other Menagerie member: Ha, I am watching the EC stuff.  But I do not want to poke that hornet’s nest!
Me: Why not?
Her: Because law suits.

And I suddenly thought: Holy shit, it’s happening to us.

Members of my blog are worried about what we say about Ellora’s Cave because they’re afraid of being sued.

And I’m angry.  I’m so angry.

I have no insider knowledge on the EC suit.  It’s possible they have a legitimate reason and this isn’t a SLAPP lawsuit as some seem to be speculating (or very carefully not speculating). I’ll reserve my own hypotheses for outside the blog, because I am not a lawyer and, as my colleague said, because law suits . . . shit.

But no matter what the case, there’s fallout happening, and we’re already feeling it.

We’re small fry here at the Menagerie, in the grand scheme of the Interwebs.  This blog in particular launched less than a week ago.  And obviously we are not in the awful position of being directly involved with any aspect of this case, and I feel for everyone who is.  But I think this was a necessary post to make, because it’s important that we talk about these things. It’s important that we speak up when we feel silenced.  It’s important that small and entirely uninvolved bloggers like us are feeling like we shouldn’t express opinions about a potentially important event in our industry.  That we do more risk to ourselves by opening our mouths than is worth it to editorialize . . .

. . . because law suits.

About the author

SL Huang (aka MathPencil)
SL Huang (aka MathPencil)

SL Huang justifies an MIT degree by using it to write eccentric mathematical superhero books. Debut novel: Zero Sum Game, a speculative fiction thriller.
 
Website: www.slhuang.com
Twitter: @sl_huang

7 Comments

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  • I agree. It is essential not to let bullies like EC intimidate you. What ever happened to freedom of speech? As far as SLAPP lawsuits…I detest the concept. Talk about a great example of a major weakness in our legal system.

  • I read an article about a restaurant reviewer who left a bad review (this was in France) and was sued by the restaurant for essentially the same things EC is suing about (loss of revenue, etc). The courts sided with the restaurant and required the reviewer to change their review and pay a fine. These types of things are horrifying. Shutting down our voices, telling us we have no right to express an opinion … that’s the beginning of the end.

  • There is one thing about the tradtitional SLAPP lawsuit that this situation doesn’t seem to have: a stable financial foundation. The truly horrifying SLAPP lawsuits are those where a party has essentially infinite resources to pursue harassment of their target, or targets – either in the form of utterly disproportionate monetary resources (the suit McDonalds filed in Italy in the last decade against the one food critic is a good example of this sort) or because an official position means that the party pursuing the suit can use official resources to press the case (this recent Canadian defamation case seems a good example of that sort: .http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/5299/The-trouble-with-criminal-speech.html ) From what I’ve read EC just doesn’t seem to have the financial resources to squander on providing for credible representation for a full trial situation. (Let alone some infinite number of such lawsuits for all the other bloggers to catch their attention.)

    Having said that, I’m judgment-proof, myself. (Read: dead broke) It’s easy for me to comment without feeling at risk. Further, it’s worth noting that just because an action is neither credible, nor sensible, given a rational assessment of cost vs benefit, and available resources doesn’t mean that someone desperate or otherwise not thinking clearly might be willing to keep going and bankrupt both parties to the suit. Or suits. It’s easy for someone as far on the sidelines as I am to suggest that you shouldn’t let the threat of lawsuits stop you from any blog post you feel an urge to write. The reality is rather more complex.

    I wish that this kind of nonsense would never cause anyone the least concern about expressing themselves. I know that’s not a reasonable position.

    So, yeah, bugger lawsuits.

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