2017 CLBR Hero: Mike Masnick, Free Speech Champion

On December 20, CLBR will have our annual year-end Heroes and Zeros episode in which, with guests Brenda Christensen, Denise Howell and Dan Tynan, we highlight those doing wonderful things on the internet and those deserving a cyber lump of coal.  This year, in order to give credit (and shame) where it is due,  I am naming my hero and zero “nominees” individually and today’s hero is Techdirt founder, Mike Masnick.

In March 2016, a Florida jury returned a $140 million verdict in favor of Terry Bollea aka Hulk Hogan against Gawker Media for publishing a tape of him having sex with the wife of his best friend (shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge) (see CLBR #264).  Hogan’s lawyer, Charles Harder also won a $750,000 settlement from a bankrupt Gawker for Shiva Ayyadurai who had sued Gawker for disputing his claim that he invented email in 1978 when he was a 14-year old high school student.  Techdirt’s response to the settlement was as follows:

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.

Masnick’s reward was a $15 million lawsuit that threatened the very existence of his publication. He could have easily settled, but he refused and took on the fight of his life.

In September, the court dismissed the lawsuit, but since it applied Massachusetts law, Masnick could not recoup his legal fees under the state’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation Law).  See CLBR #275: The Gawker Effect with Techdirt’s Mike Masnick.

In September Masnick received the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award as “an outspoken activist for digital rights, the First Amendment, and a free and open Internet.”

Mike Masnick


MASNICK TECHDIRTWeb:  Techdirt / Tw: @mmasnick  2012 Hero

Mike Masnick founded TechDirt in 1999.  He coined the term “Streisand effect” in 2005 stemming from Barbra Streisand privacy lawsuit over aerial photographs taken of her Malibu estate.

By the turn of the decade, Techdirt was a central repository for all news relating to tech policy, and Masnick was one of the most prominent figures in a growing but-still-mostly-unorganized movement that cared fervently about issues relating to digital rights.”*

He is widely credited for being one of the leading media sources behind opposition to SOPA in 2012.  Masnick was named a Hero by CLBR in 2012 and in September received the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award as “an outspoken activist for digital rights, the First Amendment, and a free and open Internet.”

*Simon Owens, How this blogger became one of the most influential voices in tech policy


Annual Heroes and Zeros Show

Listen on Wednesday, December 20th at 1PM ET / 10AM PT on WebmasterRadio.fm as I discuss the Heroes and Zeros for 2017 with our special guests – Brenda Christensen, Denise Howell and Dan Tynan.

the judges

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