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Sean P. Fodera Threatens to Sue 1,200 Writers Linking to Daily Dot Article

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Macmillan Associate Director of contracts Sean P. Fodera

Macmillan Associate Director of contracts Sean P. Fodera (source: MidAmerican Fan Photo Archive)

Macmillan’s Associate Director of Contracts, Sean P. Fodera, who used the ongoing kerfuffle inside SFWA as cover for a sexist attack on ex-SWFA officer Mary Robinette Kowal, has now threatened to sue all those linking to Aja Romano’s article on the topic at Daily Dot (including, presumably, Black Gate).

I have a very good case for a libel suit. I suppose no one noted that I work in the legal profession within the publishing industry, and have taught college courses on the subject… as of now, it looks like the article was “shared” 1,200 times already. That makes each of those sharers a part to the libel, and makes each of them equally culpable in the eyes of the law. I’ll speak to my attorney first thing tomorrow.

Macmillan owns Tor, the company that publishes Mary’s Nebula Award-nominated Glamourist Histories novels.

Earlier this week on his blog Whatever, ex-SFWA President John Scalzi invited Fodera to sue him first:

If you honestly believe you can sue me for libel for linking to this article, you are, in my opinion, deeply ignorant of how libel works in the US… But if you are determined to sue 1,200 people for linking to a newsworthy article, you may begin with me. You know who I am and I am very sure you know where I am, since many of my book contracts route through your office. I await notification of your suit.

But perhaps the most salient analysis of the issue comes from the libertarian group weblog Popehat, in an article by Ken White titled “Science Fiction Community Generates This Weekend’s Buffoonish Defamation Threat”:

If Fodera was angry before, this coverage made him really angry. How dare someone quote him and link to the full quotes!…

Though Fodera works “in the legal profession” and has “taught college courses,” he does not appear to have a firm grasp of the subject matter. First, Fodera thinks that the Daily Dot article is defamatory. It isn’t. The article quotes things he wrote on the internet. It links to his original text so that the readers can judge for themselves. Fodera seems to think that the Dot article wrongly paraphrases or selectively quotes him. That’s a tendentious and unpersuasive reading… the Dot directly links to Fodera’s own words. The Dot description and partial quote is fair and accurate. And the readers can determine that for themselves by following the link…

Second, Fodera appears confident that if the Dot article is defamatory (and it isn’t), then anyone who merely links to it is a participant in defamation. That confidence is misplaced; it’s not clear whether Fodera is ignorant of the law or merely argumentative about it…

It’s banal to be a trash-talking blowhard on the internet. Fodera could have gotten away with that — there are so many blusterers, and so little time to care about them. But Fodera has transformed himself into something else, something more iconic: the big talker who can dish it out but can’t take it. Nobody respects that person. Nobody should. Fodera strikes me as a sad and stunted person, lashing out at someone for holding a mirror up to him.

Read the complete article here.

Meanwhile, as of this morning the Daily Dot article that first angered Fodera now has 4,800+ links and shares, and the lawyer Fodera’s sought out for advice has apparently advised him to shut the hell up.

21 Comments »

  1. He makes a point of working in “the legal profession” and having “taught college courses on the subject,” but does not understand that simply quoting what a person said or linking to their writing doesn’t constitute libel (unless there is such a thing as self-libel)?
    This may be libelous, but the tenor of his earlier remarks, coupled with this latest declaration, makes me wonder about Mr. Fodera’s mental stability. Psychologically, this guy may have jumped the shark.

    Comment by Nick Ozment - February 20, 2014 1:51 pm

  2. Nick,

    Perhaps. What I see is simply a bully, who felt safe enough in the context of the constant anti-woman tone of his fellow commenters on the SFWA thread at SFF.Net that he felt he could make this kind of casual sexist attack on a female SFWA Officer (and indeed, none of his fellow commenters on the thread seemed to think there was anything even slightly objectionable in his statements).

    A poisonous atmosphere creates poisonous actions.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 20, 2014 2:00 pm

  3. I suppose no one noted (because we don’t give a crap) that I work in the legal profession within the publishing industry (I make copies and get coffee), and have taught (community) college courses on the subject (“You Too Can Be a Litigious Git”)… as of now, it looks like the article was “shared” 1,200 times already (which is more “likes” than I got from posting a picture of my Real Doll). That makes each of those sharers a part to the libel, and makes each of them equally culpable in the eyes of the law (in the Republic of Congo – I think). I’ll speak to my attorney first thing tomorrow (as soon as I pick up his suit from the dry cleaners and walk his Pomeranian).

    WTF…

    Goth Chick

    Comment by Sue Granquist - February 20, 2014 2:29 pm

  4. I hope his attorney tells him to go pack sand.

    Comment by emcgargle - February 20, 2014 4:16 pm

  5. This thing is like the gift that keeps on giving! I can’t wait for next weeks lunch with John Scalzi at Red Lobster so we can discuss this over Cheddar Bay Biscuits :)

    Comment by Scott Taylor - February 20, 2014 5:14 pm

  6. Scott, for heaven’s sake don’t burn your mouth again. Those tongue blisters sort of freak me out…

    GC

    Comment by Sue Granquist - February 20, 2014 5:19 pm

  7. People who took his course should ask for their money back, and Macmillan might want to send him for a refresher course. Maybe also tell him to stop yelling at the talent.

    Comment by darangrissom - February 20, 2014 6:47 pm

  8. The “professor” sounds like he’s been in the ivory tower a wee bit too long.

    Comment by Wild Ape - February 20, 2014 7:46 pm

  9. God, I love Scalzi. Also, LOL at Goth Chick’s comment. I was thinking something similar, but not as funny.

    Comment by awsnyde - February 20, 2014 7:51 pm

  10. John, your blog software needs a like button, at least on GC’s comments.

    Comment by Jeff Stehman - February 20, 2014 8:05 pm

  11. I’m with Jeff. I hate to say this but I have skipped over Goth Chick’s posts and after reading about her bringing John O’Neil coffee, then handing out beat downs to the SWFA, then putting out laughs that would make Jay Leno’s joke writer’s green with envy. Who are you Sue??

    :::Ape takes off his Texas cowboy hat and bows his head in salute::::

    Comment by Wild Ape - February 20, 2014 8:50 pm

  12. Who is Goth Chick? I’m afraid I’m sworn to secrecy.

    But one thing I can point out: have you ever seen Goth Chick and Scarlet Johansson in the same room at the same time? I don’t think so. Just saying.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 20, 2014 9:19 pm

  13. Gentlemen, you do me too much justice.

    Awsnyde, as I know you specifically understand, sometimes the material just writes itself. By the way, you left the you-know-what in the office last time you dropped in…

    Jeff S, so wonderful to see you here; Stan Lee must be on his winter hiatus which must be an utter relief.

    Ape, what can I say? You had me at “cowboy hat”. Due to my legitimate fear of potentially being burned at the stake in a place like Texas, you have an open invitation to the Black Gate Chicago headquarters. My office is at the bottom of the stairs behind the door with the “Beware of the Leopard” sign. Probably best to call ahead.

    John, I’m pretty sure Scarlet Johansson wouldn’t have to tolerate a unisex office bathroom. Can you at least print off a sign about putting the seat down? It’s just not funny anymore…

    GC

    Comment by Sue Granquist - February 20, 2014 10:34 pm

  14. Thank you Sue. I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive after I read about how you deal with rabid Black Gate fans (which I am). I scratched several items off of my bucket-list after what you said. I have never been to the LA office but I had hopes of swinging by to sneak into Ryan Harvey’s office and taking a selfie with his Captain America shield (big fan of Ryan and Captain America). I had fantasies of checking out Nick’s comic collection (he has great taste) and maybe smoking a cigar in Neil’s office while putting my feet his desk and spinning around in his high back chair. I can see that such antics would run me afoul of you. I will take you up on that invitation next time I’m in Chicago. Y’all need to get through that Polar Vortex thing first before I make it up there. It doesn’t fit my southern definition of chilly.

    Comment by Wild Ape - February 20, 2014 11:25 pm

  15. GC: While I do understand how material sometimes just writes itself, I think you may be confusing my WordPress user name with someone you know. I’m pretty sure I’ve never been at the office, at least, I hope to hell that I’m not forgetting something. 😉 I have been a long-time commenter here, and an even longer-time subscriber to Black Gate–since before the very first issue was published in fact–but have never met anyone involved.

    I have now figured out how to get something other than my WordPress user name to display on these comments (one can scarcely believe I’m actually a computer scientist, can one?). So for future Black Gate comment cataloguers: awsnyde = Allen Snyder

    Despite four decades of reading sf and fantasy, I’ve never even been to a convention. But if any of you ever make it to any of them in the Baltimore/Washington area, I’m sure you will post it here.

    Comment by Allen Snyder - February 20, 2014 11:32 pm

  16. Can’t he just assign them more “mental tags”? (I can’t stop.)

    Comment by CMR - February 21, 2014 12:35 am

  17. A poisonous atmosphere creates poisonous actions.

    If anybody asks why this kind of kerfuffle matters, that’s it right there.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - February 21, 2014 3:13 am

  18. After spending a lazy afternoon reading through the sff.net forums, and a few blogs, it seems like both sides had some good points and legitimate concerns about the changes to the Bulletin. If Mr. Fodera had kept his remarks on point, it could have been grounds for a serious discussion about how the SFWA has changed as it has grown. Shame he didn’t.

    Comment by darangrissom - February 22, 2014 1:28 am

  19. […] denying there’s harassment of women writers or spending all their time actually harassing women writers. Let’s hope the spectacle of the awards puts all the recent ugliness behind us […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » SFWA Announces the 2013 Nebula Award Nominations - February 25, 2014 6:55 pm

  20. […] Sean P. Fodera Threatens to sue 1,200 Writers […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in February - March 31, 2014 1:50 am

  21. […] Sean P. Fodera Threatens to Sue 1,200 Writers Linking to Daily Dot Article […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The Top 80 Black Gate Posts of 2014 - January 26, 2015 1:26 am


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