Why use Warren McKeon Dickson to threaten me?

Warren McKeon Dickson #1Warren McKeon Dickson #2Warren McKeon Dickson #3

As you know I have had a threatening letter from Warren McKeon Dickson, a firm of Australian solicitors, because they object to some articles about Evony on this blog. You might be wondering why a Chinese company is threatening a British blog using an Australian solicitor. They can do this because the libel is supposedly committed anywhere that the blog is read. And that is pretty much everywhere on earth.

By using an Australian solicitor Evony make it very difficult for me to defend myself. I have to fly myself and my legal team halfway round the world for every hearing and bringing witnesses in would be extremely expensive. Also Australia has a very old fashioned libel law where the person who thinks they are libeled doesn’t have to prove anything. They can make all the accusations they want and the onus is on me to bring evidence to disprove every one. This is why Warren McKeon Dickson have listed so many silly and obvious things which everyone knows aren’t libel in their letter. For instance they claim that “Evony sends massive amounts of intrusive and offensive spam as part of its advertising the game Evony” is libellous. But everyone has seen the adverts. And in this thread you can read how Evony spammed the Google advertising system.

It is the same with virtually all their claims. Anyone reading my articles and following the links can see the evidence to back up what I say. But still, even though what I say is obviously the truth, I would have to fly all the witnesses to Australia to prove every point.

Libel is incredibly expensive to defend in court. Many people in the UK end up spending over a million pounds. So the idea of me being able to defend this in court in Australia is a non starter. But some gold farmers are earning as much as half a million dollars a day, so to Evony going for me like this is petty cash. So you can see what Evony are doing. They are using Warren McKeon Dickson to try and suppress fair criticism about them on the internet. They are using the expensive steamroller of the Australian legal system in an attempt to stop free speech.

And it is not just me that they have gone for, Warren McKeon Dickson have also threatened the Guardian and presumably other people who have fairly criticised their activities. If we back down and remove our fair criticism from the web then it is a blow for human freedom. Anyone will be able to get away with anything knowing they can use Australian lawyers to stop criticism of their activities. And everyone will have to be immensely careful about what they say anywhere on the internet. It doesn’t matter if you write the truth, the Australian trap can still get you.

It is surprising that Evony are using Warren McKeon Dickson. Libel is a very specialist area of the law with specialist and very highly expensive legal practices who do nothing else. But Warren McKeon Dickson are small town general solicitors more accustomed to helping people buy and sell property, they don’t even list libel as an area of expertise on their website. So it looks like Evony have gone to a less expensive lawyer so as to be able to cost effectively carpet bomb their critics.

So what can I do? If I remove the articles it is a victory for censorship and oppression. If I leave the articles Evony will bring a case against me that I cannot defend, even though I have told the truth. The only answer is the Streisand effect, where an attempt at censorship backfires because the resultant publicity brings the story to an even bigger audience. This is already happening as Warren McKeon Dickson’s heavy handed bullying has  received far more publicity than the original Evony story.

If you want to help beat these people you can. Just cut and paste anything I have ever said about Evony on here and put it anywhere and everywhere on the web. You don’t even have to credit the source if you don’t want to. They cannot threaten everybody! The more that the truth about Evony is propagated the better the Streisand effect will be.

41 comments ↓

#1 Deejay on 08.26.09 at 8:08 am

This is where 4chan and anonymous would come in useful…

#2 BC on 08.26.09 at 8:27 am

I’m not sure Bruce understands the concept of anonymity. It goes against his grain.

It’s not worth the hassle. Just promote ad blockers instead.

#3 hotnoob on 08.26.09 at 8:34 am

we could always over load evony’s servers with a hard-ware attacking virus…

lol, im jking…

ima add this to my blog to help you out :D

#4 Jedi Master on 08.26.09 at 8:56 am

You got my support. I won’t do much, but I will alert my readers to your plight.

#5 Andy on 08.26.09 at 8:58 am

I’m only a law graduate, but what’s forcing you to defend it in the first place? It’s only a civil suit (and hasn’t even been filed yet, there’s only been a mere threat of suit). So if worse comes to worst, you might have judgment against you in a civil proceeding, its not like that will prevent you ever entering Australia, or be enforceable overseas. Unless USA and America have an agreement to enforce each other’s civil judgments that I don’t know about (quite possible).

#6 Andy on 08.26.09 at 9:01 am

Oh, there we go, no reciprocal agreement between Aussie and USA. Page 2: http://www.mccullough.com.au/downloads/2476Litigation%20and%20Dispute%20Resolution%20-%2016%20March%202009.pdf

#7 Dylan Smith on 08.26.09 at 9:30 am

I think Bruce Everiss lives in the UK, not the USA. Does the UK have a reciprocal agreement with Australia on cases such as these? If not … well, send the lawyer’s letter to /dev/null where it belongs.

Or better still, “We refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram”, as Private Eye once replied to someone trying to sue them.

#8 Andy on 08.26.09 at 11:31 am

Ah my bad, I *thought* he was a little too eloquent for an American!

#9 Iwind on 08.26.09 at 12:23 pm

Hello
Even my Norwegian newspaper is writing about Evony now and linking to your blog. I’ve been following this story for a while now, and decided to put a post up on my my site regarding this topic today. I’ve got several browser game related websites, and those that are about Evony are getting quite a bit of traffic. Mind if I put your posts up there? I used to play this game for a while, but I don’t want to support them and get people to play Evony seeing how they run their bussiness.

#10 Edward McCain on 08.26.09 at 12:23 pm

Have you ever thought about including a Terms of Service at the bottom of your blog for all readers? eg.

… In order to use the Services, you must first agree to the Terms. You may not use the Services if you do not accept the Terms. … agree to be bound by laws in (home city / country) … not be a general ass about things. etc.

I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that if a company in China can sue a blogger in Britain through a court in Australia, a TOS would at least give those lawyers pause for a few moments.

#11 Bruce on 08.26.09 at 12:28 pm

Iwind, please do.

#12 Dereck on 08.26.09 at 1:15 pm

I’ve actually edited my article, which you may have read, Everiss, to include a link to this article and the other one. You have my full support – and even though my blog is really, really knew, it already got some fresh readers.

#13 Bruce on 08.26.09 at 2:28 pm

From Wikipedia:

Australian law tends to follow English law on defamation issues, although there are differences introduced by statute and by the implied constitutional limitation on governmental powers to limit speech of a political nature established in Lange v Australian Broadcasting Association (1997).
Since the introduction of the uniform defamation laws in 2005 the distinction between slander and libel has been abolished.
A recent judgment of the High Court of Australia has significant consequences on interpretation of the law. On 10 December 2002, the High Court of Australia handed down its judgment in the Internet defamation dispute in the case of Gutnick v Dow Jones. The judgment established that Internet-published foreign publications that defamed an Australian in his or her Australian reputation could be held accountable under Australian libel law. The case has gained worldwide attention and is often said, inaccurately, to be the first of its kind. A similar case that predates Gutnick v Dow Jones is Berezovsky v Forbes in England.[28]
Slander has been occasionally used to justify (and with some success) physical reaction, however usually the punishment for assault is only slightly reduced when there is evidence of provocation.
Among the various common law jurisdictions, some Americans have presented a visceral and vocal reaction to the Gutnick decision.[29] On the other hand, the decision mirrors similar decisions in many other jurisdictions such as England, Scotland, France, Canada and Italy.
Uniform legislation was passed in Australia in 2005 severely restricting the right of corporations to sue for defamation (see, eg, Defamation Act 2005 (Vic), s 9). The only corporations excluded from the general ban are those not for profit or those with less than 10 employees and not affiliated with another company. Corporations may, however, still sue for the tort of injurious falsehood, where the burden of proof is greater than for mere defamation, because the plaintiff must show that the defamation was made with malice and resulted in economic loss. [30]
The 2005 reforms also established across all Australian states the availability of Truth as a defense; previously a number of states only allowed a defense of Truth with the condition that a public benefit exists [31].

#14 Danvers on 08.26.09 at 3:29 pm

Just a few suggestions/thoughts:

In order to proceed in Australia, I guess that they will still need to serve you in the UK. This will be pretty cumbersome and you should not do anything actively to assist with this process.

Once/if served, you should contest jurisdiction. You may be able to find an Aussie law firm who would be willing to assist you pro bono.

Your server logs should show where your traffic is coming from. If you are not getting any traffic from Aus or have not yet had any, this would be key evidence, I would imagine.

Suggest you contact the Helsinki Foundation who might be able to help or put you in contact with pro bono lawyers in Australia.

#15 J on 08.26.09 at 3:32 pm

What happens if you simply ignore them. Would they turn up at your house and fly you to Australia?

Guess what, most of what we say and do is illegal in some country or another. Does that mean we should be punished in that country?

Just ignore them.

#16 Greg on 08.26.09 at 3:56 pm

It’s a bluff. Come on, everything this company does relies on looking like something more than it actually is. Offering (or threatening) more than they have any capability of delivering.

That said, the next letter will be to the company that hosts your site. You might want to find out how they’ll respond to it… a lot of hosts find it a lot easier to shut down sites rather than run any risk.

#17 acidpits on 08.26.09 at 5:36 pm

Disgraceful in the truest sense of the word. They can’t respond to criticism in any way other than to sue? This won’t go far and I have a funny feeling you won’t be headed to Australia any time soon, this story is bound to take off wait until the BBC hear of it… anyway I’ll make sure everyone I know on the internet gets to voice their disgust.

#18 crazyrabbits on 08.26.09 at 6:59 pm

Keep writing about Evony, and call their bluff. It seems like this is similar to Sega’s U.K. division trying to sue YTMND.com (a joke site that creates parodies of popular works) for illegal infringement of the Sonic The Hedgehog trademark.

You know what would really work well? Get someone to rap about Evony, and how much it sucks.

They can’t do anything to you. They’re bluffing, and they know it.

#19 Ian on 08.26.09 at 7:25 pm

” Also Australia has a very old fashioned libel law where the person who thinks they are libeled doesn’t have to prove anything.”

Isn’t it the same in the UK?

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/12/24/uk-quackery-on-trial/

#20 Bruce (another one) on 08.27.09 at 12:37 am

In citing Gutnick vs Dow Jones they might given you an out. As a resident of Australia, Joe Gutnick sued the New Jersey based Dow Jones based on defamation in his home state of Victoria. It was deemed that this was the venue where his reputation was most on the line and therefore the correct venue for the action.

Evony is clearly not a resident of NSW and, unless most of their player base is in Sydney it would seem that this is not the venue where their reputation is most on the line. There is therefore an argument that NSW is not the place this action should be tried.

And do they have more than 10 employees?

#21 captbash on 08.27.09 at 2:23 am

ey bruce, i remember there were a few Chinese investors who emailed you a few months ago and wanted your service, i believe they were trying to frame you up and would like to know all about your background etc. to use against you…i smell something fishy…here’s the link if anyone there hasn’t read it yet:

http://www.bruceongames.com/2009/07/19/more-on-the-chinese-game-industry/

#22 Funky J on 08.27.09 at 3:33 am

Claiming the Streisand Effect can work is counter productive to your cause.

Why?

What happens if an Australian posts this to his website and then gets the Cease & Desist letter, and chooses to ignore it, and they actually press on with the matter in court?

If that person doesn’t have a decent lawyer, and can’t back up the claims you’ve made about Evony, then they’ve got a win in a court of law, which will ultimately hurt you and every other blogger regarding this topic.

Sure, there are lots of “ifs” there, but if I were you, I’d close the comments on these topics and talk to a lawyer.

#23 hitnrun on 08.27.09 at 4:59 am

Anonymous handle.
A US hosted blog.
Links to the blogger whenever “he” talks about Evony.

Some assembly required.

#24 captbash on 08.27.09 at 8:47 am

Funky J,

It sounds like you are blaming Bruce for everything? I’ve seen one Australian blog who also despise Evony and he doesn’t worry all about this lawsuit. They are just making Bruce their scapegoat for their shady businesses

#25 Ravious on 08.28.09 at 11:54 am

Good luck for them even getting jurisdiction on you. I mean not really. I hope they all die in a fire (not the lawyers, but the clients). You should try and see if you can buy a license for a single-art asset that EVONY uses in game from the Age of Empires people or whatever, then countersue EVONY for copyright infringement.

#26 mike on 08.28.09 at 2:30 pm

Bruce,
The Truth is an absolute defense under the theory of defamation. Collect all of the facts, evidence, statements, affidavits, articles, test results, games they have stolen images from, etc that support your contention. When and if, you are served with a complaint be certain to Answer the complaint and file it within the specified period or they will take a default judgment against you. You can copy and forward all of your collected data to the Court attached to a Motion To Dismiss the complaint on the basis that all of the data represents the Truth and therefore the plaintiffs cannot prevail. The Court, if impressed with your efforts and the data you provide may well dismiss if there is no triable issue of fact (no defamation because you proved its true). You may also apply to the Court for Costs & Fees, the expenses you incurred in defending the action. Don’t be intimidated by the Aussie lawyers. They are relying on Evony being incorporated in the USA and your blog hosted in the USA as sufficient for Aussie jurisdiction??That’s a weakness in their proposed litigation. My favorite tactic in cases like this is to file a Cross- Complaint against the plaintiff in the same action/court. If you think about the amount of damage caused to yourself you will have enough for a Cross-Complaint. Such as “Defamation”, “Slander Per Se”, “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress”, “Fraud” (this is an important cause of action and can be proven if the Plaintiffs have intentionally and knowingly filed the lawsuit knowing that you had an absolute defense, ‘their game is substandard by industry standards’, they stole images, etc). The Cross-Complaint suddenly levels the playing field and becomes the basis for a negotiated settlement of your complaint against theirs. Demand cash from them, i.e. US$50 million in damages. If they think that there is a chance you could prevail in court they will do anything to get out of the litigation. Demand a published apology from them as part of the settlement. This post may be showing your hand, but they may as well know right now that you are not going to back off. They have a huge potential of financial loss in this lawsuit but their lawyer has not told them so, and is likely to encourage them to keep paying his fees on the theory that they have a great case :) The odds are in your favor.

#27 Mikejl on 08.31.09 at 3:03 pm

This is a case of layers trying to kill freedom of speech.

#28 ComputerEngineer on 08.31.09 at 7:38 pm

Despicable Evony marketing practices aside, I think the most outrageous and unfounded accusation you ever made was whether an Adobe Flex-based browser game is malware. An ounce of basic knowledge of software platforms would have helped you avoid making such a silly statement. The iEvony spam-o-matic application (an absolutely terrible idea) is the only software application users might install locally on their PCs, which would then have full access to the local filesystem with the permissions of the user installing it. Browser games run in a sandbox, and Evony gets as much permission on your local machine as Youtube or anything else using Flash. Of course if you’re xenophobic and prefer to trust Youtube, developed in the U.S. by former employees of Paypal, a company that requires you to waive your right to credit card protection if you accept their ToS (http://www.paypalsucks.com/credit-card-waiver.shtml), that’s your prerogative.

#29 Deserted on 09.07.09 at 6:45 am

@ComputerEngineer

oh yes, of course anything flash based is secure, as demonstrated by http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/35900/discuss and of course http://www.securityfocus.com/bid/35890

The contention of whether malware is being served I leave over to those who are willing to take the time to examine Evony’s variety of sites, as to whether it is possible? there your ignorance shows I’m afraid, in addition to which I don’t recall Bruce actually stating it was ingame – You are still visiting a website to register and play this game after all

#30 IRGRL on 09.14.09 at 12:19 am

I fully support Bruce as I too am being bombarded with hate mail and threats, even in our forums after I quoted Bruce in the opening of my article about the Evony community. They published it today and on their forums there is a post and on thirteen1.com s forums there are 2 threads with a spokesperson supposodly for Evony posting on their behalf.
They cant possibly sue everyone, and the fan bois that follow cant possibly bash and post hate threads all over. Its simply ridiculous it has come to this, makes you think this man has something to hide.

#31 clarencegirl on 09.16.09 at 9:23 pm

Streisand effect appears to be working. Picked up your site in linked Australian post about Evony defamation action.

#32 Night_raven on 09.22.09 at 12:45 pm

Ok i am about to post this on quite a few websites

#33 Night_raven on 09.22.09 at 1:07 pm

Now time to take evony down and kingory ofc ^^

#34 D-chi on 09.28.09 at 6:53 am

Good luck, Bruce! Probably won’t do much, but I posted this on LJ. You’ve got my support. As an American I too am a fan of this lovely phenomenon known as freedom of speech. Perhaps the Chinese would like a lesson in it? (Also, capitalism and human rights. But that’s another story for another day.)

#35 Jara on 09.30.09 at 8:37 am

Hi Bruce, I’m an Australian lawyer. The Defamation law isn’t as bad as you think. As pointed out above, it has great similarities to English defamation law. In fact, the 2005 reforms arguably tend to tip the balance more in favour of the defendant in certain respects. Also, there is no need for you to defend the action; in fact, an Australian court, such as the NSW Supreme Court may even decline to give a judgment to the plaintiff in such a matter as this because it could be seen as useless and unenforceable.

#36 Joe Blow on 10.18.09 at 6:03 am

Why are you word about what happens in Australian civil court if you’re in Britain? I’d just ignore it.

#37 Joe Blow on 10.18.09 at 6:04 am

errr. WORRIED. long night.

#38 GrumpyMel on 10.22.09 at 9:26 pm

You guys need Libel tourism protection laws like we have in NY (and like the one which is currently moving through the US Senate).

Basicaly the NY law says that any libel rulings by Courts that don’t provide the same Free Speech Protections enjoyed in the US & NY Constitution are void.

The Federal one as I understand it (not passed yet) is even better. It says you can bring a counter-suit in US Court and if you can prove that the other party was attempting to forum shop in order to squelch your Free Speech rights you can be awarded treble damages against the people who sued you for libel.

#39 Someone on 12.09.09 at 4:07 am

You know, not all Chinese people are big and bad. I just wished that you hadn’t accused Evony, and with no evidence, that they were run by the Chinese. I mean, i am Chinese, and i dont like the game either, so whats wrong with us?

#40 Nevermore on 01.11.10 at 3:41 am

@Someone

Are you even reading the rest of his articles? The company behind Evony, UMGE, is based in China, and has been linked to WoWMine, which is also based in China.

http://www.bruceongames.com/2009/09/16/eric-lam-umge-wowmineand-evony/

First, perhaps you should look at that link and actually read things before you start complaining about a lack of evidence. Second, Bruce is specifically attacking the Chinese company in question. I see nothing that would even hint at some kind of unwarranted generalized attack on the Chinese.

#41 crazybitch on 02.05.10 at 2:17 am

well look at it like this. if saying this stuff is illegal in ur country then u r screwed, but if it aint then you are in the clear. put this on your blog so that they cant touch you. “The information in this blog may contain offensive material and is subject to mature viewers. If you believe this content may be offensive, please leave this site.” Make sure this is a pop up before you see the blog itself. They have to accept to enter the blog. i used false information to keep myself annonomous. i just dont want to see an honest person get screwed.

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