Gawker sued over email inventor claims

vashiva_ayyaduraiA bloke who did not invent email is suing Gawker for saying he did not invent email.

Shiva Ayyadurai gained 15 minutes of fame by telling the press he had invented email, at age 14, when he appears to have written an early implementation of email long after others had done it. There have been cases where the press have printed his claims and he managed to get a series into the Huffington Post.

V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai wrote an email software program for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in 1978. By all accounts, it was a perfectly decent email system that allowed the UMDNJ staff to send electronic messages. In 1981, Ayyadurai registered the copyright on his program, which was called EMAIL.

As Tech Dirt pointed out email was invented long before 1978 and the copyright is merely on the specific software code, not the idea of email. None of Ayyadurai’s work was even remotely related to what later became the standards of email.

In 2012, Gawker’s Sam Biddle did a long and thorough smackdown of Ayyadurai’s claims and now it appears he is suing.

“As his proof to the court he is quoting the very media he fooled as evidence that he really invented email. The actual lawsuit is a joke,” Tech Dirt wrote. Tech Dirt has also smacked down Ayyadurai’s claims in the past.

Ayyadurai’s evidence appears to rely on debunked reports in Time Magazine, CBS and Wired. His case also claims that because you couldn’t get a patent on software at the time his copyright was basically the same thing. Unfortunately you could patent some software at the time and copyright is nothing like the same thing.

Ayyadurai claims that Gawker’s articles are defamatory.

“The March 2012 Article falsely alleges that: a) Dr. Ayyadurai engaged in “semantic tricks, falsehoods, and a misinformation campaign.” b) Dr. Ayyadurai is engaged in “revisionism” in his claim of invention of email. Another article in 2014 Article also falsely states that “a) Dr. Ayyadurai is a “renowned liar” with respect to his statements that he invented email,b) Dr. Ayyadurai is a “big fake,” and c) Dr. Ayyadurai is engaged in “cyber-lies.””

Curiously the suit claims that he does not have to prove that the article was produced “ without malice” which we would have thought was a pretty important platform in defamation case. Particularly after the court is told that Ayyadurai didn’t invent email.

Ayyadurai claims that the article will “intentionally interfere” with his “prospective economic advantage” caused him “emotional distress” and one for “negligent hiring and retention”.