While I do have some limited legal knowledge (like, I can read the stuff) after some years as a legal secretary and quasi paralegal, this is in no way, shape, or form legal advice. That shit’s expensive. Like Tony Stark expensive!
Moving along: first, if you have no idea what this is about, ePub Ellora’s Cave sued blogger Dear Author. The suit, as it appears to many, is an effort to chill free speech, hence the #notchilled hashtag.
I’m often asked why I’ve been active on the #notchilled hashtag on Twitter and why I insert myself into the discussions online. Do I have any books with Ellora’s Cave? Nope. Am I a contractor with them? Nope. Am I affiliated with Jane Little and Dear Author? Nope. So why?
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution, that’s why. I also have a White Knight complex and when I receive messages from other authors saying they’re AFRAID to speak up…my blood boils. Don’t sweat it, I’ll say it FOR you and you can eat popcorn. The fact that someone has to have true and real fear just to speak the truth is abhorrent.
Recently, I participated on an online discussion started by Anne Rice regarding an article that was posted where Jaid Black (owner of EC) blames Amazon for her troubles. Incidentally, she’s blaming Dear Author for the same thing. The *cough* always classy Ms. Black joined in as well. Clearly, this woman hasn’t received one piece of PR advice in her entire life.
What burned my ass most of all was that Anne Rice openly admitted to not having read anything about the case…at all. Then she hops on the “EC will have their day in court” bandwagon. I’m sorry…what? The business is accused of: defaulting payments, mailing checks out months after they were written, mailing envelopes sans date stamp, and not paying its authors. And…you want to support them. (Cries as hero falls off pedestal.)
I argued with Anne Rice. What was most upsetting was I never even had the opportunity to go all fan girl. Never did the star-struck reality hit me. I was too disgusted at what I witnessed.
ignorantia legis neminem excusat
Ignorance excuses no one.
How can someone, seemingly so intelligent, someone who battles bullies all of the time, jump on the side of someone attempting to bully another party into silence? What the actual fuck? The irony…it kills.
Pardon me while I empty the contents of my stomach into porcelain.
An author…one who makes their living from their books, who expects to get paid for said books, film rights etc. is going to throw support toward someone NOT PAYING THEIR AUTHORS (allegedly)???
We have the right to this discussion (Thank you 1st Amendment.) Anne Rice has the right to her opinion, no matter how uninformed. I have the right to say and think what I want and trust me, I blabbed. I blabbed a lot. I even tweeted that I could not “watch AR suck JB’s ass anymore. I’m out.” Was she literally sucking on the anus of JB? Probably not. It’s a figure of speech… SPEECH. Because, we have that right.
Now, onto the suit. Here’s my two cents.
Defamation is really hard to win. With any suit, you must state a claim where relief can be granted. For example: Neighborhood dickbag bashed in my mailbox. I have him on video. I sue Neighborhood Dickbag for $145 for a replacement box plus court costs. That’s relief. (Think about insurance, it’s to indemnify or make one whole. Relief is to make you whole again.) Defamation is no different. State a claim, how it hurt you, and how much it will take to make you whole again.
Defamation requires that you prove the Defendant acted with malice. That…that’s very difficult to prove. Unless you find, during discovery, an email from Jane Little stating, “Let’s burn this bitch to the ground with a pack of lies,” you’re pretty much screwed here.
Truth is also a defense in a defamation suit. Affidavits have been filed by those who went unpaid by Ellora’s Cave. Dear Author also had citations in her article listing the numerous tax liens against Tina Engler (Jaid Black), demonstrating the poor financial decisions that have been made…for years. She did her job. She demonstrated that she had every reason to believe what she wrote was true and that she was reporting on a publisher in the industry. The financial situation over at EC certainly seems to be in turmoil. Hell, Jaid Black is pointing the finger at everyone other than herself, but even she admits to some issues.
There are other foundations of a defamation suit that must be met in order for a judge to rule in your favor. But like a house of cards, remove a leg and the house falls down. Little’s attorney has already removed a few legs and the house…well, it’s teetering.
IMHO, this case has already been won by Dear Author. It’s just a matter of time and procedure at this point.
Court of Law v. Court of Public Opinion
Let’s talk about Bill Clinton for a moment. I’ve joked for years that he should have just admitted to smoking weed and to banging Monica Lewinsky. Why? Truth. Do you know how many college kids have smoked dope? It’s not a big deal. You’re young and allowed to make stupid decisions. Clearly, if you’re a candidate for president, you’ve overcome those stupid tendencies. And admitting being a stupid college kid??? That makes you human, relatable, and gives Saturday Night Live writers excellent material. As far as Lewinsky? That was a matter between Mr. & Mrs. Clinton. It was really none of the country’s business. Who cares if he played hide the sausage with her? They were both adults. Infidelity isn’t a presidential issue, it’s a marital issue. Instead, it became national news and a media shit storm. Didn’t matter what the court said. We all knew he did it, just as sure as we were all certain OJ was guilty.
When EC decided to sue a blogger, many who hadn’t seen the article, who didn’t know who EC or DA were, now did. Instead of making a public statement that the company had suffered some losses but that they were working on making things right, they attempted to shut DA up.
Not only do you now look guilty of covering up the truth, you look like a bully. Those who are still waiting for money are sick to death that precious funds are being spent on a lawsuit instead of fixing the accounting issue, paying royalties that were due and rehiring some of the folks who had been laid off. This is what the public sees. This is what I see.
I see authors posting pics on social media of envelopes sans date stamp; of checks and royalty statements they receive now for months and months ago. I see people posting 1099 discrepancies in ECs favor. I see a sock puppet (pubnt) spewing insider knowledge of a company and then pleading with the court stating they know nothing, claiming to be legal bloggers. (Bitch, please.) Which is it, you know something useful or you know nothing. Which is it?
As a mother, I’m constantly preaching to my kids about taking personal responsibility. Yes, things can happen to you, but sometimes, you’re at fault. I have a truckload of respect for those that can say, “I fucked up.” We all make mistakes. It’s part of the human condition. It’s forgivable if and only if, you take responsibility and take steps to fix said mistake.
Crystal Ball, Crystal Ball, what do you see?
What do I think happened? I think EC grew too big too fast. I think someone spent money that wasn’t theirs to spend…for a while now. I think they priced themselves out of the market. I think they lack Public Relations in a major way. I think they’ve based business decisions on nepotism, rather than fiscal responsibility. These are just my opinions, and I’m entitled to them…and I have a constitutional right to publish them here. After all, this is just supposition at this point. I’m not stating facts here, just what I think happened.
I believe DA (has already) will prevail. They’ll win the suit, and the counter-suit. Jane Little is an attorney. I can pretty well assume that she knows the difference between journalism and defamation. I believe she’s proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that her article was researched, that she had proof from authors, editors and the like before she even drafted her article.
I believe PubNT is either Jaid Black’s former roomy or her paralegal friend, but no…these are not legal bloggers and I don’t believe for one second this person is unaffiliated with JB or EC. Either way, the veil of secrecy is about to be lifted.
I also see future problems from the publisher, if they can’t hop on board and do some market research. This suit has damaged their reputation. As authors speak about their fears, other authors (and up and comers) hear them. They pay attention.
Calling authors not published by your company “slush pilers” is also going to do long-term damage. You can’t insult those with which you’d like to do business.
I believe JB will continue to cry that everyone is out to get her, misquote her, and make every attempt to dethrone her. She’ll continue to say things online that make us shake our heads. She’ll continue to blame, DA, Amazon and indies for eating into her profits. She’ll continue to make bad business decisions like painting a bus in lieu of making responsible business decisions and she’ll eventually have a nervous breakdown.