A Note to Sean Fodera
Posted on February 16, 2014 Posted by John Scalzi
If you honestly believe you can sue me for libel for linking to this article, you are, in my opinion, deeply ignorant of how libel works in the US.
For the avoidance of doubt, I do not believe that anything in that article rises to libel, not in the least because the article links to your unedited posts so that anyone may read your words in their full context. It is newsworthy, and, because of the links to your words in context, truthful. As you are no doubt aware, truth is an affirmative defense regarding libel. I am not at all sure how you may show
malice defamation when an article points to your exact and actual words. In short, I am very certain you have no case.
Also for the avoidance of doubt, threatening 1,200 people with a libel suit because they link to an article they consider newsworthy is not smart, nor will it keep the article from reaching further audiences. Additionally, proving 1,200 times that each individual has acted
with actual malice to defame you will be difficult, again in no small part because the article points to your words in their original setting. It will also be very expensive.
But if you are determined to sue 1,200 people for linking to a newsworthy article, you may begin with me. You know who I am and I am very sure you know where I am, since many of my book contracts route through your office. I await notification of your suit.
However, what I suggest you do instead is step away from the Internet for a while. I know you to be a decent and good person. I think in this case you’ve gotten yourself neck deep in something you didn’t intend and you’re reacting with adrenaline. Let it go. And next time be aware that everything on the Internet leaks, whether you intend it to or not.
(Note: I’m turning off comments on this post. Because the thought of policing this comment thread, oy.)
(Update: It’s been pointed out to me that “defamation” is more accurate here than “malice,” so I’ve adjusted the text.)
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