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FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND SPEECH : PUBLISHERS PUBLISHING AND PUBLICATIONS : LIBRARIANS : LIBRARIES: ACADEMIC : LAW: CASES: Edwin Mellen Press Suing a Librarian?

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  • David P. Dillard
    . . FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND SPEECH : PUBLISHERS PUBLISHING AND PUBLICATIONS : LIBRARIANS : LIBRARIES: ACADEMIC : LAW: CASES: Edwin Mellen Press Suing a
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      FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND SPEECH :

      PUBLISHERS PUBLISHING AND PUBLICATIONS :

      LIBRARIANS :

      LIBRARIES: ACADEMIC :

      LAW: CASES:

      Edwin Mellen Press Suing a Librarian?

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      Edwin Mellen Press Suing a Librarian?

      Posted on February 6, 2013

      Academic Librarian

      On Libraries, Rhetoric, Poetry, History, and Moral Philosophy

      http://blogs.princeton.edu/librarian/2013/02/edwin-mellen-press-suing-a-librarian/

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      Edwin Mellen Press is suing Dale Askey-a McMaster University librarian-and
      McMaster University for "$3.0 million dollars as damages for defamation
      arising from continuous publication on the World Wide web by the defendant
      Askey." The alleged defamation occurred in a 2010 blog post Askey-an
      American citizen-wrote when he was a librarian at Kansas State University.
      The contents of the action (including the original blog post) are
      available here. Regardless of the outcome of the case, academic librarians
      should consider the implications of this lawsuit and its potential attack
      on academic freedom and the public expression of professional opinions on
      relevant subjects. Information about previous and potential Mellen
      lawsuits are below.

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      Price of a Bad Review

      February 8, 2013 - 3:00am

      By Colleen Flaherty

      Inside Higher Education

      http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/02/08/
      academic-press-sues-librarian-raising-issues-academic-freedom

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      A shorter URL for the above link:

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      http://tinyurl.com/a9uwhgp

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      Librarian questions quality of a publishing house. Librarian publicly
      criticizes said press on his personal blog. Two years later, librarian and
      current employer get sued for libel and damages in excess of $4 million.

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      That's been the progression of events for Dale Askey, associate university
      librarian at McMaster University in Ontario, where he's been working since
      2011. At the time of his blog post, in August 2010, Askey was a tenured
      associate professor at Kansas State University, where librarians are
      granted faculty status. He said his comments about Edwin Mellen Press,
      since removed from his blog, pertained to his work, assessing materials
      for potential inclusion in Kansas State's library collection in a time of
      diminishing resources.

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      "It was, as such, my job to assess the quality of books, and I did so
      based on many years of experience in the field," he said in an e-mail
      interview. "As budgets decrease, the necessity to be more discerning
      increases, yet libraries have reduced their qualified staff numbers over
      the years. As a qualified and experienced librarian, I was sharing a
      professional opinion for consumption by peers."

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      Publisher Sues College Librarian for Saying Publisher Sucks

      Hamilton Nolan

      Gawker

      http://gawker.com/5982793/publisher-sues-college-librarian-for-saying-publisher-sucks

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      A well-known principle of academic debate is, "If someone challenges your
      intellectual credentials, the best way to prove them wrong is to try to
      sue them into oblivion." So it goes for the poor college librarian who's
      being sued for millions of dollars over a blog post disparaging an
      academic publisher. (Ironically, no college librarian's blog post
      disparaging an academic publisher has ever been read by a human being.)

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      snip

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      During which time the publisher that filed said lawsuit would be required
      to compose a thesis-length essay entitled "Clown Studies From a Locked
      Room: A History of Superfluous and Vindictive Lawsuits, OR, Why I Should
      Just Move to England If I Love Fake Libel Suits So Much?"

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      Edwin Mellen Press Sues University Librarian for Libel

      February 8, 2013, 3:00 pm

      By Jake New

      Chronicle of Higher Education

      http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/
      edwin-mellen-press-sues-university-librarian-for libel/42193

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      A shorter URL for the above link:

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      http://tinyurl.com/as275e9

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      The lawsuit, filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, came to light
      this week when Leslie Green, a philosophy-of-law professor at the
      University of Oxford, mentioned the case when responding to a blog post
      about a list that gave Edwin Mellen Press a low ranking among philosophy
      publishers.

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      "My own view is this is intolerable," Mr. Green said in an e-mail
      interview. "McMaster University should vigorously defend its librarians,
      and academic freedom. In my opinion, there is no merit whatever in
      Mellen's lawsuit against the university: It is a bullying tactic."

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      Other professors have also come to Mr. Askey's defense. Martha J. Reineke,
      a professor of religion at the University of Northern Iowa, started an
      online petition asking for an end to the lawsuit. In its first hours
      online, it drew more than 50 signatures.
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      In a copy of the press's notice of action obtained by The Chronicle, the
      publisher alleges that Mr. Askey accused the press of "accepting
      second-class authors" and urged "university libraries not to buy the
      Press's titles because they are of poor quality and poor scholarship."

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      Edwin Mellen Press also charges that because McMaster University employs
      Mr. Askey and did not require him to remove the blog post or the comments,
      then the university "adopted the defamatory statements as their own."

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      snip
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      The lawsuit is "a classic SLAPP suit," Mr. Turk said.

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      "It has the effect of simply trying to silence somebody," he said. "The
      lawsuit itself seems to be one without merit in the sense that what Askey
      was saying seemed to be fair comment dealing with a public-policy
      consideration that's highly relevant to academic librarians. What academic
      librarians do is assess what books libraries should and shouldn't
      acquire."

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      The Canadian faculty association heard about the case earlier this week,
      Mr. Turk said, and will now be working with Mr. Askey. Mr. Turk said he
      felt as if the university should be doing more to defend its librarian,
      the same way a newspaper might defend one of its reporters. Mr. Askey is
      paying all of his own legal expenses.

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      Publisher launches $3,000,000 suit against academic librarian who
      criticized its books

      Cory Doctorow

      6:59 am Friday February 8, 2013

      Boing Boing

      http://boingboing.net/2013/02/08/publisher-launches-3000000.html

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      No one likes bad reviews; but Mellen's approach is not to disprove the
      assessment, pledge to improve its quality, or reconsider its
      business-model. It is to slam McMaster University and its librarian with a
      three million dollar lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court, alleging libel
      and claiming massive aggravated and exemplary damages. The matter is
      pending.

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      The lawsuit is threadbare. With respect to the parts of Mellen's list with
      which I am familiar, the librarian's statements noted above are all true
      and the quality judgments are correct.

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      Shocking attack on academic freedom at McMaster by Edwin Mellen Press?

      Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog

      http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2013/02/
      shocking-attack-on-academic-freedom-at-mcmaster-by-edwin-mellen-press.html

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      A shorter URL for the above link:

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      http://tinyurl.com/aykfzml

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      In the earlier thread discussing the survey about philosophy publishers,
      Leslie Green (Oxford) posted the following startling comment, which
      deserves separate notice, so I'm reposting it here (with the links
      restored, they didn't come through in the comment apparently):

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      The Edwin Mellen Press may well, as this survey suggests, have the worst
      quality philosophy list but it tops the league in disgraceful conduct in
      defense of its dismal reputation.

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      Rank Order the Presses Below in Terms of the Quality
      of Their Philosophy Catalogues from Best to Worse.

      Condorcet Internet Voting Service '

      http://www.cs.cornell.edu/w8/~andru/cgi-perl/civs/results.pl?id=E_7763ade35fcdde03

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      Will Edwin Mellen Press Sue Google Over Search Algorithm?

      Posted on February 8, 2013

      by Timothy A. Lepczyk

      http://www.eduhacker.net/libraries/edwin-mellen-press-sues-librarian.html

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      Nine Kinds of Pie

      Philip Nel's Blog

      Vanity, Thy Name Is Lawsuit

      http://www.philnel.com/2013/02/08/freedaleaskey/

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      Major points in this blog post:

      In the blog post in question (since removed, but still available via
      Archive.org), Askey does not call Edwin Mellen Press "a vanity press."

      http://web.archive.org/web/20110630153231/http://htwkbk.
      wordpress.com/2010/09/22/the-curious-case-of-edwin-mellen-press/

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      A shorter URL for the above link:

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      http://tinyurl.com/ak7q9y2

      A serious academic press values academic freedom.

      Making judgments about the quality of scholarship is a professional
      librarian's job.

      Academics do not take threats to academic freedom lightly.

      I can think of no evidence to contradict Askey's claim

      William Pannapacker

      .

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      PLG GTA Stands With Dale Askey

      Posted on February 8, 2013 by plggta

      http://plggta.org/archives/149

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      Librarians have a duty to promote and preserve intellectual freedom in
      society. They have a responsibility to protect academic freedom and are
      entitled to the full protection of their own academic freedom in
      accordance with CAUT policies. This freedom includes, but is not limited
      to, the right and duty to exercise their academic professional judgment in
      the selection of library materials, and to ensure that library materials
      are freely accessible to all, no matter how controversial those materials
      may be.

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      Both the suit against Askey and past interactions with the scholarly
      community suggest Mellen Press is not interested in meaningful dialogue
      about scholarship and scholarly publishing. Currently, libraries are
      amongst the biggest customers of Edwin Mellen Press. Going forward, we
      hope to see a change in the relationship between Edwin Mellen Press and
      the community it claims to serve. In our opinion, an attack upon the
      academic freedom of one librarian is an attack upon us all.

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      On questioning the quality of a publisher

      February 9, 2013 3:06 AM

      Meta Filter

      http://www.metafilter.com/124794/On-questioning-the-quality-of-a-publisher

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      I suspect Edwin Mellen may not even care if they win or not. I also
      suspect they will throw some money at this, forcing the University to
      defend. The biggest deterrent will be the fear of costly litigation
      factor. You'll see Universities ensuring that their staff to NOT blog,
      publically express opinions, or voice criticism for fear of another
      expensive lawsuit.
      posted by HuronBob at 3:20 AM on February 9

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      Saturday, February 9, 2013

      Watch out for Edwin Mellen press

      Publishing Archaeology

      http://publishingarchaeology.blogspot.com/2013/02/watch-out-for-edwin-mellen-press.html

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      Publisher hits new low: Suing librarian for criticizing their books

      Posted by John Dupuis

      February 9, 2013

      http://scienceblogs.com/confessions/2013/02/09/
      publisher-hits-new-low-suing-librarian-for-criticizing-their-books/

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      A shorter URL for the above link:

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      http://tinyurl.com/aedhtow

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      So what are next steps? First of all, we should all keep up the pressure
      on blogs and twitter and other places online. It would be great to see
      more faculty blogging and tweeting about this, and faculty all across the
      disciplinary map too. Librarians work for the interests of their entire
      campus constituency and I'd hate to think this could set any sort of
      precedent.

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      Sign the petition, if you're so inclined. I have. And most of all, we
      should continue to air our honest opinions about publishers and their
      products, both in person and online.

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      Petition

      https://www.change.org/petitions/
      edwin-mellen-press-end-libel-suit-against-dale-askey-and-mcmaster-university#

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      A shorter URL for the above link:

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      http://tinyurl.com/bcd95ts

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      Price of a Bad Review

      Colleen Flaherty,

      Inside Higher Ed,

      February 10, 2013

      Commentary by Stephen Downes

      http://www.downes.ca/post/59949

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      Though we hear from time to time (i.e., yesterday) that the American
      patent system is broken, my own feeing is that it the American legal
      system that is broken. In The Litigation Society, you can expect justice
      only if you can afford justice, and in most cases, you cannot afford
      justice. That's the case in this item, where a librarian is being sued for
      a ridiculous amount because he had the temerity to criticize a publishing
      house in his blog.

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      WEBBIB1213

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      The complete article may be read at the URL above.

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      Sincerely,
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      Temple University
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