CIG Demands Escapist Retraction; Threatens Lawsuit

An update to the Chairman's Response to The Escapist on the Roberts Space Industries website has the latest on Cloud Imperium Games' reaction to the recent Escapist article alleging troubles at the developer of Star Citizen, the upcoming crowd-funded space game. The post has been modified to demand a retraction of the assertions in the article, threatening legal action if this doesn't happen by the end of today. They say the site has "violated the most basic rules and ethics in journalism by failing to properly vet [their] sources and providing the affected party with an opportunity to refute these ridiculous, highly slanderous, and easily disproven allegations," and also state this was not a legitimate piece of journalism, but rather a conspiracy between the author and "third parties" (who go unnamed, though we have a guess). They reproduce a lengthy letter they sent to the Escapist, and here is how this concludes:
If we have not received within a reasonable time your written confirmation (email being sufficient) that you agree to cooperate and comply with the above demands we will firstly publish this letter to our website. Based on the generous standards set by you, we believe that 24 hours should be sufficient to hear from you. Furthermore, if we have not received the aforementioned confirmation from you or your magazine and/or parent company by EOD Monday, we will turn this matter over to our litigators to prepare legal action in the US and the UK against the individuals and entities involved as listed herein.
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Re: CIG Demands Escapist Retraction; Threatens Lawsuit
Oct 5, 2015, 21:11
Re: CIG Demands Escapist Retraction; Threatens Lawsuit Oct 5, 2015, 21:11
Oct 5, 2015, 21:11
 
I laugh at CIG hard, please read this, great article:

https://popehat.com/2015/10/04/in-space-no-one-can-hear-you-threaten-lawsuits/

Freyermuth is a founder, Vice-President, and in-house lawyer. He's a fact witness to what's going on at Cloud Imperium. When he writes a five-page semi-legal rant, he's just creating cross-examination fodder. Moreover, "look, I am referencing lawyers, and even cc'd them" doesn't convince anyone who knows how litigation works. If competent outside litigators are substantively involved, they write the threat letter, not the personally-involved fact-witness client. "Do what I want or I'll bring in our outside counsel" and "look at me cc'ing lawyers" is the "my brother will beat you up" of the business world. Freyermuth cc'd the head of the Litigation Department in the Los Angeles office of Cooley LLP, an 800-lawyer firm. Dropping his name signifies that (a) he's citing a big scary lawyer to seem serious even though the lawyer is not substantively involved, so he should not be taken seriously, or (b) the head of LA litigation for Cooley is involved, but has no client control whatsoever because his client is writing five-page rants, which means the client is not to be taken seriously, plus (c) if Cooley is actually involved it signifies that Cloud Imperium is going to spend a truly stupid amount of money to pursue a defamation case against a hit piece that doesn't actually impact its core function, right at the time that it's fighting rumors that it is in financial trouble. So: some messaging issues.

If you know what you're doing, you bring in the litigators before you start running your mouth. The litigator is there to tell you, in the most supportive and affirming way possible, to shut the fuck up. That way your CEO and key fact witness isn't writing long, angry emails about the facts of the situation, probably getting some of them wrong and probably saying things the legal significance of which he doesn't know. It's not easy to tell the CEO to shut up and stop writing things if you're his underling. Some people get to be CEO by having a Trumpian level of self-regard that makes Derek Smart look like Dobby the House Elf. If you're a sensible GC, you use your outside litigator as the bad cop to control your difficult executive. That way your executive doesn't do don't-take-me-seriously things like post angry messages referring to written statements as "slanderous."

Plus, while Freyermuth makes a fairly convincing case that the Escapist was gullible and incompetent, that's not the relevant standard. The company, and Chris Roberts, are almost certainly public figures, or at least limited-purpose public figures in the gaming world. That means they'd have to prove actual malice to win a defamation case. Constitutional "actual malice" doesn't mean ill-will, as Freyermuth's letter seems to imply. It means knowledge that the statement is false, or reckless disregard for the truth — that is, publishing despite serious doubts about its truth. Cloud Imperium isn't going to satisfy that standard.
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