ScubaBoard and our electronic freedom under attack – You can help.

image I am posting this quick and abridged article to let our readers know about the lawsuit against ScubaBoard, a bit about the far reaching consequences and what you can do to help. There are many long and thorough articles available and we will give you some links at the bottom.

Quick summary

Maldives Scuba Diving, PVT.LTD is suing ScubaBoard and “100 John Does” for 10 million US dollars in damages. This suit claims that what some forum participants said about a diver death on a Maldives Scuba Diving trip caused them damage. The actual discussions are still up on the forum (thread 1 and 2).

Broad reaching ramifications

The potential ramifications to the suit go way beyond ScubaBoard,

the other defendants, and even beyond the reported 130 thousand ScubaBoard subscribers. Certainly, if Maldives Scuba Diving were to win or even draw out the the litigations this would end ScubaBoard. But the precedents would likely affect everyone’s electronic freedom of speech. It could spell the end for all Scuba and other small and non-profit forums. The owners of Wikipedia seem concerned and said this. “…even though most of these lawsuits have been won by the defendants, the cost to defend them can be exorbitant, especially for small or non-profit forums. The uniqueness of this particular lawsuit is that the users of the board were also named (Does 1-100).”

What were they (MSD) thinking

We contacted Maldives Scuba Diving to asked them about the suit and got no response. We wanted to know if they considered the fact that angering most of the divers by threatening to ruin the industries most beloved forum may do a lot more to damage their business than a few people discussing the incident in question. Maybe they are just hoping to walk away from the business with a $10 million retirement fund.

How you can help

Even if MSD does not win the lawsuit the costs are already eating away ScubaBoard’s limited resources. For those that want to help ScubaBoard fight this attack, you can donate via PayPal at legaldefense@scubaboard.com. All monies will only be used for this case. Any left over money will be returned to the donor. We talked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the leading civil liberties group defending your rights in the digital world. They said this was the kind of case they would take on. We talked with Pete Murray, ScubaBoard chairman and encouraged him to request help from EFF. Supporters could also help by encouraging EFF to lend a hand and other tech media (e.g. Cnet.com, Endgadget.com, Dvorak.org) to cover this case.

Links to references and more detail