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When a federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a libel suit brought against Techdirt’s Mike Masnick, the decision was a victory of sorts for the First Amendment.

And it may be short-lived.

1st Amendment wins in self-proclaimed e-mail inventor’s Techdirt libel suitMike Masnick (credit: Eric Goldman)

Even so, the ruling, which followed two-plus decades of legal precedent, brings to mind how lawsuits like this can be used as a weapon to stifle the First Amendment and extract huge settlements to make the issue literally disappear.
Masnick fought the allegations that he defamed Shiva Ayyadurai, the man who claims to have invented e-mail.

Ayyadurai sought $15 million in a lawsuit against Masnick and Techdirt parent company Floor64 over blog posts that labeled Ayyadurai a “fraud” and a “liar” surrounding Ayyadurai’s “fake” claims to have invented e-mail in 1978 as a teenager in New Jersey.
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