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In the aftermath of losing a $140m privacy lawsuit to Hulk Hogan after publishing a private sex tape of the wrestler, Gawker Media is being sold off – well, nearly all of it. The vast majority of Gawker Media – including websites like Gizmodo and Lifehacker – has been gobbled up by Spanish-language telly giant Univision for $ …

  1. dan1980

    "Crucially, in its place it leaves behind a blueprint for the rich to snuff out publications that step out of line."

    Woah - hang on a moment, please.

    I keep reading stories on this sorry incident where the main take-away seems to be that a billionaire with a bone to pick somehow abused the system to bring down a media outlet that was mean to him.

    So let's get one thing clear: Thiel didn't bring down Gawker; the courts did. A jury decided.

    That jury reached a verdict that the actions of Gawker, in publishing revenge porn, caused sufficient injury to the plaintiff* to warrant the award of the damages that forced Gawker into bankruptcy. As a side note, it should be enlightening that the jury awarded more than was sought, meaning that, far from viewing the sought damages as excessively high, they found them to be too low.

    A private citizen had his privacy violated in the most personal way and sued the perpetrators. The defendants tried to buy their way out of a court case but the plaintiff refused, opting to have his case heard in a court and decided upon by a jury of his peers.

    It is a fundamental part of our western legal systems (and those of many other nations) that a person has the right to have his or her grievances decided on in a court of law. Unfortunately, the cost for exercising this important right can be very high and thus some cases end up being settled out of court.

    While many settlements are undoubtedly quite reasonable, others take the form of paying-off the victim to make them go away and be quiet.

    It is inevitable, then, that there are plaintiffs who would like to have their cases and decided upon by a jury but are all but forced to take a settlement as the cost of accessing the legal system would be prohibitive for them.

    This is where pro bono work comes in. When a lawyer or firm takes a case 'pro bono', he or she is doing so in order to allow the client to access the legal system where otherwise they might not be able to.

    Now, while I am not suggesting that this case was necessarily 'for the public good', what Thiel has done in funding this case is to allow the plaintiff to access the full extent of the legal system and take his case 'all the way'.

    Now that that's on the table, what is the 'blueprint' you believe has suddenly been laid out? Enable people with worthy legal cases to bring their case to a jury for a verdict?

    Does that mean that you are suggesting that it would have been more just if the plaintiff was compelled - due to legal costs - to accept a settlement rather than having his case heard and decided on by his peers?

    Whatever anyone thinks of Bollea, Thiel or Gawker, the simple fact is that a private citizen brought a case before an independent jury of his peers and that jury handed down a decision in his favour.

    Thiel did not make somehow change the facts of the case or make the jury decide one way or another. All he did was allow the plaintiff the opportunity to have his case decided.

    * - Who, let's be very clear, was not Peter Thiel but Terry Bollea - a real person who had his privacy violated in a gross and egregious manner.

  2. paulf Silver badge

    @dan1980 Upvoted because, with these words, you nail the main point of this whole case: "...Gawker, in publishing revenge porn...".

    I'm sure there are cases where the super rich do "buy" justice simply because they can fund the lawyers longer and deeper than the other side (or can afford a super injunction) but IMO this isn't one of them. Gawker published revenge porn, a most egregious violation of privacy against the plaintiff. I can't help thinking they did it because they thought Terry Bollea wouldn't be able to sue or would settle early (for an amount they could write off as a business expense) due to a lack of funds. They took a gamble publishing a story they should have known was wrong, with little genuine public interest (other than gossipy titillation) and lost because a jury found against them.

    All those people wailing about the threat to journalism might want to get a grip on what Gawker actually published: Revenge Porn. Not exactly investigative journalism in the same league as Watergate, or British MP expenses, or Jimmy Savile, or the Panama papers was it?

  3. Mycho Silver badge

    The key thing to remember is that the woman in this revenge porn was neither famous nor aware she was being videotaped.

    Gawker Media had a history of making the world a worse place, from all perspectives. They happily posted revenge porn and defamed women with sexual insinuations on one site and stirred up hate campaigns over imaginary sexism on another at the same time.

    Maybe the Spanish can reform their underlings.

  4. dan1980

    "The key thing to remember is that the woman in this revenge porn was neither famous nor aware she was being videotaped"

    Nor did Bollea/Hogan, as I understand it.

  5. Mycho Silver badge

    Yeah, but nobody gives two shits about Hulk Hogan.What matters is that Gawker don't give two shits about collateral damage.

  6. MrDamage

    shagging his best fried's wife.

    She must have had a hot arse then.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nobody expects the Spanish acquisition.

  8. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    "... the buccaneering flagship ..."

    So, pirates with an ambiguous legal status? You keep using that word, etc etc.

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