This One Simple Court Case May Surprise You
September 8, 2015 3:17 AM   Subscribe

The Daily Mail is suing Gawker. The Daily Mail's web wing, Mail Online, is suing Gawker for defamation over the story headlined: “My Year Ripping Off the Web with the Daily Mail Online".

The case, filed in New York, says the article is “replete with blatant, defamatory falsehoods intended to disparage The Mail and harm its reputation by falsely claiming that The Mail's business model". In the story, writer James King said that during his time on the Mail Online between 2013 and 2014 he was simply given stories by other publications and told to rewrite them, eschewing adding a unique angle or new information in favour of swift appropriation.
posted by Devonian (58 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
That'll certainly teach Gawker to lay off the original journalism and stick with rewriting items they found on the web.
posted by ardgedee at 3:46 AM on September 8, 2015 [17 favorites]


Mail Online claims that its “reputation as an ethical, upstanding, and law-abiding company has been impugned”

Hilarious.
posted by jack_mo at 3:47 AM on September 8, 2015 [75 favorites]


The Mail is complaining that its “reputation as an ethical, upstanding, and law-abiding company has been impugned”? Pull the other one, it's got bells on.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 3:47 AM on September 8, 2015 [17 favorites]


Sometimes, I have to fight the urge to editorialise in an FPP.

This, though, is a perfect case of "write the facts and stand well back".

I don't know much about defamation law in the US - although I know all too much about it in the UK, so I don't know whether this is the Mail setting up to nuke-spend Gawker into the ground or whether it thinks it has a good case.
posted by Devonian at 3:52 AM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Let us hope that both sides obliterate each other in legal combat.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 3:58 AM on September 8, 2015 [14 favorites]


300 quatloos on the newcomers.
posted by jadepearl at 4:01 AM on September 8, 2015 [23 favorites]


Successful troll is successful.
posted by frijole at 4:03 AM on September 8, 2015


The Mail online claims:
It “has been exposed to public hatred, ridicule, and contempt”.

So, now it knows how its subjects feel?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:10 AM on September 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


Let us hope that both sides obliterate each other in legal combat.

Let's hope we eventually get a universal ignore list, which allows us to never have to see any story either originating from or about sites we'd rather never think about again. Take it one step further and include generalized ignore list for certain topics, people, or subjects and then maybe the net can finally reach it's true potential, something beyond keeping the public dumb, distracted, and angry.
posted by Beholder at 4:11 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


And I am supposed to feel bad for using uBlock Origin.
posted by johnpowell at 4:24 AM on September 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wrote this in the comments of a post that got deleted several months ago, but I'm not going to deprive y'all of it:

Ugh, gross. Every time I click on a link that turns out to be the Daily Mail, it's like I picked up what I thought was a delicious chocolate chip cookie and it turns out to be made of raisins and raccoon shit.
posted by duffell at 4:24 AM on September 8, 2015 [32 favorites]


I see a lot of mention of harmed reputation, but has the Mail asserted that the claims are false?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:26 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hilarity ensues.
posted by Artw at 4:36 AM on September 8, 2015


It's interesting that they're in the US courts -- as I understand it, UK defamation laws are very liberal and the standard that has to be met isn't relatively that high. But in the US, it's the opposite -- the standard is very high. I can't imagine that they can win such a suit here; perhaps they might have won it in the UK. It's not as if Gawker isn't available in the UK. Or is there some nuance of the laws that I'm missing that meant that this had to be in the US? Alternatively, it's also my impression that the US courts are much friendlier to getting away with a lawyer-bombing nuisance lawsuit where the Daily Mail can just make life more difficult for Gawker -- it's my understanding that this is much more difficult to do in the UK.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:38 AM on September 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ah yes, the fucking Daily Fail Online. On one had will foam about paedos, on the next page will slaver over pool pics of some actor's daughter and her friends, and my aren't they ... *blossoming*.

Fuck Dacre and fuck his goosestepping rag.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:39 AM on September 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


We did just have this FPP on publications that supported Hitler, though generally in a more indirect way than the Mail did.
posted by Artw at 4:55 AM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I now basically openly tut when I see someone buying The Fail (or Daily Hell as Julie Burchill called it)

Sing it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:09 AM on September 8, 2015


Media Watch: Don’t rely on the Daily Mail to behave ethically.
posted by dumbland at 5:12 AM on September 8, 2015


dumbland, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Daily Mail in Australia a different publication?
posted by trif at 5:28 AM on September 8, 2015


Hmm, doesn't look like it. My bad. And I totally could have checked that out before asking the question. I think I may have been confusing The Daily Telegraph which is independent of the UK equivalent, or maybe The Herald Sun which seems to mash two of our papers into one.
posted by trif at 5:33 AM on September 8, 2015


I see a lot of mention of harmed reputation, but has the Mail asserted that the claims are false?
I think truth is an absolute defense against defamation in the US. So basically, this trial is going to end up being a referendum on whether the allegations in the Gawker article are true? That seems unlikely to end well for the Mail. "These allegations are damaging! Let's make sure they are discussed in detail in a protracted court battle that will bring them to everyone's attention!"

Maybe they're assuming that Gawker can't afford to fight it and will roll over and retract the story.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:42 AM on September 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure how it works when two pigs wrestle.
posted by srboisvert at 6:00 AM on September 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


I installed the DailyFailBlock Chrome extension a several months back and it was such a good decision. It's surprising how often I'll unknowingly click something (especially on FB) that links back to them just because it looks provocative and have the little pop-up "You don't really want to go to the Daily Mail" save my mental well being.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:08 AM on September 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Maybe they're assuming that Gawker can't afford to fight it and will roll over and retract the story.

But its not about the truth or a retraction, it's about control. They already scared the Washington Post off of publishing the story, so now they need to teach Gawker what happens when you don't play ball.
posted by frijole at 6:09 AM on September 8, 2015


I see a lot of mention of harmed reputation, but has the Mail asserted that the claims are false?

King's original article which prompted the lawsuit (third link) is followed by The Daily Mail's refutation, and then King's refutation of the refutation.
posted by Peevish at 6:26 AM on September 8, 2015


I see a lot of mention of harmed reputation, but has the Mail asserted that the claims are false?

Yeah, the end of the Gawker story has a response from the Mail vigorously denying the claims. (Plus, bizarrely, a bonus claim that wasn't even in the Gawker story.)
posted by No-sword at 6:27 AM on September 8, 2015


I'll see you in court, Peevish.
posted by No-sword at 6:27 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


[nsfw]dear daily mail
posted by nadawi at 6:30 AM on September 8, 2015


Ah the Mail. Every now and again I'll see one of our images pop up on an article (I know Ianvisits has the same problem, as do other London website owners and bloggers). Good luck getting them to either pay you or take it down though. Mostly they'll just stick something like "Copyright: Internet" on it. The fuckers.

I also remember the one time they actually tried to talk to me / quote me in a piece about the Tube. I agreed, with considerable hesitation, to speak to the journo involved who did seem like a decent chap. Right up until the end, when he was asking how I wanted to be referred to in the piece.

"Editor of London Reconnections is fine" Says I.

"No problem." He said. "And, just to check, are you a home-owner?"

"Erm... what? Why's that relevant?"

"Are you a home-owner? I'm meant to ask, you know, for the description."

What followed was a brief, Monty Python-esque conversation where he practically begged to know whether I owned my own house as he needed it for the quote and I refused to tell him.

I later noted with amusement that none of my quotes made his final article.
posted by garius at 6:33 AM on September 8, 2015 [22 favorites]


The more I think about this, the more I'm baffled.

The story has been and gone. It didn't say anything anybody with quarter of a brain doesn't know, and those who actually read the Mail (Tea And Kittens blocker here) don't care. The Daily Mail's reputation is beyond repair for some, of no interest to others. All that can happen here is that what the Mail actually does is held up to the light - and, I suppose, Gawker can be hung up by its goolies pour encourager les autres. But that will quite possibly stiffen their sinews instead.

There can be no utility to the Mail in this case, win or lose, unless it's driven by personal hubristic animus from the top. I find that not the most implausible interpretation.

Jon Stewart, why has thou forsaken us?

Saint Streisland, pray for us!

John Oliver, a thousand expectant faces turn to you.
posted by Devonian at 6:37 AM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Right in the listicles.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:43 AM on September 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: it stiffens your sinews.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:45 AM on September 8, 2015


So what sort of discovery is Gawker entitled to? That could be fun.
posted by ryanrs at 6:45 AM on September 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


There can be no utility to the Mail in this case, win or lose

If any of this is remotely true, then having former employees spill the beans on them is probably a trend they want to quash right away.
posted by xigxag at 6:46 AM on September 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Re the question about where the case has been brought, this may be an effect of the Defamation Act 2013, which among other changes to libel law in England & Wales made it harder to 'forum shop' - in short, courts here will now only accept libel claims involving claimants or defendants from other countries if England & Wales is the most appropriate venue for doing so.

Another factor is that a lot of US states have laws making it very difficult to enforce libel judgments from English courts, so a claim against a US company, even if heard in London, might be futile.
posted by Major Clanger at 7:47 AM on September 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's interesting that they're in the US courts -- as I understand it, UK defamation laws are very liberal and the standard that has to be met isn't relatively that high. But in the US, it's the opposite -- the standard is very high.

It most likely has to do with the SPEECH Act, which makes UK libel judgements unenforceable in the US.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:57 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it possible for BuzzFeed to file an amicus brief? Or to maybe be sued out of existence as well? And can we throw in The Huffington Post?

Honestly, all of these "journalistic" outlets should be ashamed for their rampant thievery (in addition to their superfluousness).
posted by koavf at 9:28 AM on September 8, 2015


HuffPo at least tends to link to the articles it paraphrases and displaces using SEO.
posted by Artw at 9:35 AM on September 8, 2015


Yeah, I caught that bit at the end where (for example) Daily Mail refutes claims it said Clooney was "a lying bastard", although it admits there was a conversation in the elevator about Clooney - that just means they could have said "deceitful bastard" or "one lying bastard". Petty details.

But what about the core accusation, that they don't generate their own stories but simply rewrite the work of others? Have they said anything about that? I mean, that's like trying to defend yourself against charges you kicked puppies to death by claiming you only beat them to death with sticks.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:36 AM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Because the internet is a perpetual irony machine, down at the bottom of Gawker article are links to other related Gawker articles, including this particularly apropos gem: "Is Taylor Swift Living, and Maybe in Love, With a Woman?"

That article directly cites the Mail on Sunday article. While it also talks about the original article's sudden deletion, the Gawker piece ends with this stirring bit of investigative journalism:
So why doesn’t the Mail want us to know about Swift’s new roommate? Is there something else going on here? Indigo Girls sing-a-longs? Restagings of Blue Is the Warmest Color? If you know anything about this, please let us know.
Two pigs wrestling indeed.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:58 AM on September 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's interesting that they're in the US courts -- as I understand it, UK defamation laws are very liberal and the standard that has to be met isn't relatively that high. But in the US, it's the opposite -- the standard is very high.

As I understand it, facts are an absolute defense against libel in the US, but not in the UK. Should be interesting!
posted by mhoye at 11:23 AM on September 8, 2015


As I understand it, facts are an absolute defense against libel in the US, but not in the UK. Should be interesting!

Not only that, but as a public entity, the bar is dramatically raised - they have to prove that:

* The statements are false, and
* Gawker knew that they were false and published anyway with the intent to harm, or
* Gawker published without verifying the veracity because they wanted to get the story out and didn't care.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:42 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know much about defamation law in the US - although I know all too much about it in the UK, so I don't know whether this is the Mail setting up to nuke-spend Gawker into the ground or whether it thinks it has a good case.

In the US, if you are a public entity, defamation is a sucker's game. The bar is incredibly high (not only do you have to prove that the statements are false because the truth is an absolute defense, but if you are a public entity, you then have to prove actual or reckless malice.) That said, suing in the UK wasn't an option either, because the US has a law called the SPEECH Act, which requires that a foreign defamation ruling meet US standards to be enforced here - which a UK defamation ruling would definitely not meet.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:51 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]




That'll certainly teach Gawker to lay off the original journalism and stick with rewriting items they found on the web.

You don't seem to know what you're talking about. Like them or not, they do a ton of original journalism.
posted by windbox at 12:36 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like how the 'Tory spy' at the Corbyn Rally was allegedly spotted because he was carrying a copy of the Daily Mail
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:39 PM on September 8, 2015


Watching the Daily Mail go head to head with Gawker must be kind of like watching a boxing match for Hitler vs. Pol Pot.
posted by AGameOfMoans at 1:24 PM on September 8, 2015


"The Mail online claims: It “has been exposed to public hatred, ridicule, and contempt”"

Yes, but what about the Gawker story?
posted by klangklangston at 1:57 PM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, one would think that the Daily Mail lawyers know defamation law very well by now...
posted by Muddler at 2:22 PM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's tough to pick a side here...hmmm......calculating...fuck Gawker Media. I hope between Hulk Hogan and The Daily Mail Denton and his douche crew get sued into oblivion.
posted by MikeMc at 3:56 PM on September 8, 2015


Mail Online claims that:
  • Its “reputation as an ethical, upstanding, and law-abiding company has been impugned”
As we all know. They never mince their words in the good old Daily Mail.
posted by spinda at 3:59 PM on September 8, 2015


Even though the Daily Mail is much bigger, it's still a direct competitor with Gawker. Apparently they even share employees or hire from the same pool. Both are among the biggest tabloid sites on the web, and tabloid wars are the stuff of legend. This could just be the latest chapter between two competitors.

As far as what the Daily Mail has to gain, one part could just be flexing its muscle against a tiny but bothersome competitor. With Gawker's future tied up in the Hulk Hogan case, it's a horrible time for them to invest in another lawsuit. The holding company that owns the Mail reported revenue of almost $2bn last year, so this won't cost them much and may help bleed out a rival.
posted by cell divide at 4:50 PM on September 8, 2015


With Gawker's future tied up in the Hulk Hogan case, it's a horrible time for them to invest in another lawsuit.

Great company there.
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on September 8, 2015


So, was the Daily Mail always contemptible? I'm trying to understand the connotation of the guy's kid working for the Daily Mail in "Paperback Writer."
posted by Chrysostom at 9:19 PM on September 8, 2015


Yes.
posted by Artw at 2:38 AM on September 9, 2015


working for the Daily Mail in "Paperback Writer."

As well as the fascist thing, it was set up as a paper for women, so 'obviously' sub-standard to a proper newspaper. I think The Beatles were being more than a bit ironic there.

'The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the county'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:02 AM on September 9, 2015


… I, uh, may have spent the last three decades believing the son was a mailman.
posted by nicepersonality at 11:26 AM on September 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Popbitch have an interesting take on the case and its timing.

(tl;dr: Nick Denton's recent round of breastbeating (plus the Hogan issue) have made Gawker ripe for a shoeing)
posted by Hartster at 10:15 AM on September 10, 2015


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