Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Government Your Rights Online News

Tempers Flare Over Ill-Tempered Sword Remarks 69

Posted by timothy
from the say-is-that-edge-sharp dept.
msaulters writes "The Austin American Statesman is reporting on Daniel Watson, a Hays County swordsmith who is suing a group of San Francisco-based techies, charging that they extorted him by posting negative comments regarding his sword-making business on the discussion forums they host and then offering to clamp down on such comments if he bought advertising with them. On the one hand, this sounds very chilling, as the defendants, Sword Forum International, are very well-known and respected in the world of sword-making, and abuse of that position would be very un-cool. On the other hand, they make some valid points in the article, and historically, the ability to express your opinions freely online is one aspect of the internet that arguably should never be curtailed."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Tempers Flare Over Ill-Tempered Sword Remarks

Comments Filter:
  • Libel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Picass0 (147474) on Monday April 07, 2003 @03:24PM (#5680623) Homepage Journal
    If the site's staff are expressing an opinion, it is protected speech. It they are attempting to pass off BS as fact and damaging the reputation of the swordmaker, it's libel. He can sue them and he should win. You have the freedom to say anything you want in America, but that doesn't mean there aren't consequences if you're a liar.

    "I think you suck" is an opinion.

    "You suck and here's a bunch of untrue claims about you" is libel.

    There are existing laws that can be enforced if any have been broken. There is no need for news laws, or any reason for this to have a chilling effect on web sites.
  • by stefanlasiewski (63134) <slashdot AT stefanco DOT com> on Monday April 07, 2003 @03:26PM (#5680645) Homepage Journal
    then offering to clamp down on such comments if he bought advertising with them.

    On the other hand, they make some valid points in the article, and historically, the ability to express your opinions freely online is one aspect of the internet that arguably should never be curtailed."

    Is Blackmail or Libel protected speech?
  • crux of the matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mattsucks (541950) on Monday April 07, 2003 @03:31PM (#5680684) Homepage
    His [Watson's] lawsuit alleges that Ko attempted extortion by offering to have the moderators of his online discussions clamp down on negative comments about Angel Sword if Watson bought advertising.

    The whole suit, both sides, is hooey except for this allegation. If this is true, it is extortion. "We will trash you in a public forum unless you pay us money." If not, the judge should open up his can of whup ass and let the complainant have it.

    IANAL, IMHO, YMMV, RTFM, ETC
    • by knobmaker (523595) on Monday April 07, 2003 @05:54PM (#5681691) Homepage Journal

      It's extortion if the complainant has any proof. If not, it's just more BS. I have personal experience with this phenom, on a much smaller scale.

      I wrote a weekly computer column for the local paper for a couple of years. One summer day I woke up and the air conditioner wasn't cooling. I called a company that advertised widely, who sent out a guy right away. He checked my system, added refrigerant (he said) and told me the whole system was broken and needed replacing. Then he handed me brochures detailing his overpriced systems and financing option, charged me $70.00, and away he went.

      I always get second opinions before spending any substantial amounts of money. The next guy came by, added refrigerant, and shazamm, the system was working again.

      I asked the first company for my money back, and they wouldn't give it back, even though I'd caught them red-handed. So I wrote a column about how a fictitious company, let's call them Airconditioning Ripoff Specialists, Inc. had ripped me off, and what I could do online to make sure that fewer members of my community got ripped off, if I chose to take it that far. After the column appeared, the real company complained to my editor that I'd threatened to expose them in my column if they wouldn't give me my money back.

      I had never mentioned to them that I was a columnist, and they didn't complain until after the column appeared. Furthermore, they weren't identified in the column, so the whole thing made no sense.

      I don't know the particulars, but it's easy to allege extortion. I suspect there's no proof, or criminal charges would have been brought, not a civil suit.

      • Why didn't you demand that they give you your money back because their service was bullshit, otherwise you'd publish a story about how they rip off consumers, using your case as an example?

        If it's true, it's not extortion, even if you ask them for a refund.
        • No, if it's true, it still can be extortion. It can't be libel.

          Let's say I know Embarrasing Fact A about someone. I threaten to reveal it to his girlfriend unless he buys me a steak dinner. I am extorting him, and what the basis of my extortion is factual.

          If I try and use Embarrasing Rumour B, which I know is not true, then it's either slander or libel, depending on the method of tranmission of the rumour (spoken word, or printed text).

          Kierthos
          • Trying to get your money back on a rip-off job is not extortion if you threaten to expose that to the world. The company is the one at fault here.
            • True. My point was, however, that the threat of revealing something that is true _can_ be extortion.

              Duhaime's Online Law Dictionary [duhaime.org] has the following definition:

              Extortion: Forcing a person to give up property in a thing through the use of violence, fear or under pretense of authority.

              IMAO (and IANAL), trying to get paid back for being ripped-off is not extortion. Threatening to expose a "rip-off" to the world, when it can be proven that you were not, in fact, ripped off, _is_ extortion. (No, I am not di
              • Um, no. It's being truthful. You say to a company, I am going to write a review of your service. Either I will say that you treated me fairly and did not rip me off, or I will say that you ripped me off and did not refund me, depending upon how you act. This is simply doing what it takes to get what is rightfully yours. Btw, "property". Since their obtainment of your money was fraudulent and void, it is not their "property".
                • The truth can still be extortion, but only under narrow circumstances.

                  Extortion usually requires the threat of a criminal act. As long as the speech is not libellous, then it is legal. Even if it was libellous, it would have to be subject to criminal libel laws, not just civil ones. Of course this varies from state to state, talk to a lawyer if you want legal advice.

                  http://www.lectlaw.com/def/e073.htm
                  EXTORTION - The use, or the express or implicit threat of the use, of violence or other criminal means
                  • Good post. This confirms what I figured intuitively. Threatening to publish a review of a company saying that they defrauded and ripped you off -- unless they refund your money -- is not extortion, nor is it lebellous (if it's true that they ripped you off). This is the case with the very original parent poster.
  • by Sevn (12012) on Monday April 07, 2003 @03:44PM (#5680786) Homepage Journal
    someone was going to say it
  • Magic? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IshanCaspian (625325) on Monday April 07, 2003 @03:46PM (#5680806) Homepage
    "I believe in science. He believes in magic," Ko said. "He believes that he can breathe on his blade and impart his spirit."


    Daniel Watson's web site can be found at http://www.angelsword.com/ . After looking through the site carefully, I found no mention of "magic." Although the man may have some unusual beliefs about his work, it is clear from looking at his photo gallery that he is an amazing swordsmith.

    I do not doubt the fact that the spreading of lies to damage another's reputation is libel, and blackmailing a fine craftsman like Mr. Watson is downright slimy. Take a look at his stuff, and if you're as impressed as I am, tell the guy in the cube next to ya. You don't have to wait for some court to award damages to get this problem solved....in a time when government seems unstoppable remember that all of the machinery of justice and corruption merely utilize a tiny fragment of the collective will of the apathy of our civilization.
    • by GypC (7592)

      The SwordForum people are very knowledgable about swords, and if they say a blade is ill-tempered I'm inclined to believe them. Especially since I'm familiar with the Angel Sword people and I know what pricks they are.

    • I visited their site previously and they did have that sort of magic BS. Very expensive, too, if I remember correctly.

      Tim

    • Re:Magic? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ... it is clear from looking at his photo gallery that he is an amazing swordsmith.

      Of course it isn't. Anyone who thinks they can distinguish the quality of a sword from a picture doesn't know much about swords - at least not of the quality these purport to be.
    • Re:Magic? (Score:3, Informative)

      by crisco (4669)
      The Wayback Machine's [archive.org] archive of the site includes this little bit about Living Steel that doesn't seem to appear on the site now:

      Magic

      Living Steel also gathers, focuses and transmits a low frequency electromagnetic energy similar to that which our bodies run on, similar perhaps to the way in which a ruby focuses a laser. This is a measurable phenomenon that can also be felt by the human body. In ancient times there was no explanation for this other than magic. It is still magic today.

      • The Wayback Machine's [archive.org] archive of the site includes this little bit about Living Steel that doesn't seem to appear on the site now:

        It also starts with the following bit:

        Living steel is the product of a tradional school of European swordsmithing

        and is a trademark of Angel Sword. (emphasis mine)

        OK guys: This is ad copy. I'm going to give them a little bit of room to wax poetic. I don't believe the bit about magic either -- but if you're going to accept the contents of an ad as an expression of the

    • Did you connect your Spiritometer to the blade and measure the quantity of spirit in the steel? Honestly, the biggest fallacy of modern science is the notion that if there's no Geek Toy to measure a phenomena, that phenomena doesn't exist/is impossible. What hubris. This is a result of the conditioning to our brains that math & science education does. Analytical thought processes break things up into individual parts, and science/geeks lose the ability to perceive the connections between these things. J
  • by immanis (557955) <immanis@@@sfgoth...com> on Monday April 07, 2003 @03:48PM (#5680816) Homepage Journal

    A look at their website [angelsword.com] should excite this thread (knowing geeks anyway).

    It's hard to take this lawsuit seriously looking at this. And with terms like "Avatar of Techno-Wootz(TM) Damascus steel".

    I wonder if we'd get sued for slashdotting their server.

  • usually (Score:4, Funny)

    by falsification (644190) on Monday April 07, 2003 @03:58PM (#5680890) Journal
    In my experience, it's usually a bad idea to piss off somebody with a sword.
  • Much nastier than an ill tempered sea bass.
  • is a piece of junk? But it chops carrots in half
    so easily.

    Seriously though. Swords are really neat and all,
    but what practical use do they have? NONE. There is
    so much more I could spend 10 grand on that would
    see actual use.

    Old 240sx, sr20det engine, some mods, POW!
    11 second car to scare the ricekids with for barely
    8 grand

    So yeah, a car isn't quite the same thing as a
    sword, but I'd see more use out of the car. What
    am I going to do with the sword? I can't carry it
    conceiled. If I pull out my sword when 4 guy
    • You can get an actual decent sword for a little bit more than that...

      Tim
    • Why is it that Nissan sells so many really nice cars in Japan (Skylines Silvias and others, but never thought of bringing them to the US until very recently? I don't think I have ever heard of anyone who complained about a Skyline, but did we see them no. Good gravy people are paying high 5 and low 6 digit prices to import them, and finally get the idea to sell something made on the same platform to rave reviews (The 350Z and G35 are based on the same chassis as the new Skylines).
    • I owned one of these for three months last year--my mistake was being lazy and buying someone else's problem, instead of just doing the damn swap myself.

      It was a 1989 white coupe with a '93 Silvia K's redtop sr20det. I miss the sound of the blow-off valve, but the damn chassis was falling apart before my very eyes--rear diff was starting to grind, and the engine would overheat when stopped in traffic for more than thirty seconds because the car still had the old ka24de radiator. tEh st00pid = m3.
  • Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!
  • by smoondog (85133)
    Whew! I'm glad /. never does this. Anyway, I guess its back to reading /. articles filed under the topic, borg^H^H^H^H Micro$^Hsoft.

    -Sean
  • by LordNimon (85072) on Monday April 07, 2003 @04:44PM (#5681239)
    It wasn't cheap ($1,500), but it's an excellent piece of workmanship. I haven't figured out how to do it myself, but Daniel (or any of his staff members) can shave (that's right, shave) a 3x5 index card with my sword.

    Daniel is a cool guy, and as far as I'm concerned, anyone who would say bad things about his work is just a complete asshole. If you want to meet Daniel, just go to any major Texas renaissance festival.

  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) on Monday April 07, 2003 @04:52PM (#5681302)
    I think I have a new name for my laptop.
  • Living Steel (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CritterNYC (190163) on Monday April 07, 2003 @05:57PM (#5681717) Homepage
    For the curious, here is a link to the "Living Steel" section of the angelsword.com site which no longer appears to be there, courtesy of archive.org.
    Living Steel [archive.org]
    • I wonder if tinfoil hats help you channel the
      natural energy your body has as well as their
      swords do. That page had me singing the highlander
      theme song and saying "there can be only one!" in
      a chrisopher lambertesque voice.
  • Very clear (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cgenman (325138) on Monday April 07, 2003 @06:14PM (#5681832) Homepage
    If Watson has evidence that Sword Forum International tried to extort money from him, let him bring it forward now or forever hold his peace.

    "In a lawsuit pending in federal court in Austin, Watson accuses Sword Forum International of driving away customers by ridiculing his work. "I was presented as a charlatan," said Watson, 51. "

    At the heart of the lawsuit are posted messages such as one by a Sword Forum moderator titled "Muffinhead Alert." Watson said the message refers to Angel Swords and tells readers to "steer clear of them." Another posting by a Sword Forum staff member said some of Angel Sword's advertising is "just insulting to anyone with even the most basic science background."


    If all Watson has are postings on a review site whose reviewers decided his "Techno-Wootz" was not up to snuff, then this lawsuit is frivilous. If he has actual evidence of an extortion scheme, then Sword Forum International is liable for civil or criminal penalties. But either way the outcome is very clear, and not at all specific to the internet. It does not "speak to questions of freedom of speech on the internet" (reporter shorthand for "it's about talking on that newfangled internet thingie"), it is a very clear case of either abuse of media outlets by people looking for advertising money or a frivilous lawsuit from a craftsman upset over a review, both old-media problems.

    I'd personally like to stay on and find out who is right and who is full of bullshit, but I have a gripping George Bush vs. Saddam Hussein debate to return to on Fox.
  • These two need to settle this like men. They should duke it out in a sword fight to the death at the next Texas Renaissance Fair.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 07, 2003 @09:04PM (#5682808) Homepage
    • Living Steel also gathers, focuses and transmits a low frequency electromagnetic energy similar to that which our bodies run on, similar perhaps to the way in which a ruby focuses a laser. This is a measurable phenomenon that can also be felt by the human body. In ancient times there was no explanation for this other than magic. It is still magic today.

    Yeah, right.

    Back in my SCA days, one local sword maker described how he did it. He started with blanks intended for use as auto leaf springs. After suitable grinding, he had them heat treated. This was Cleveland when it had steel mills. He went to a heat treating shop, handed over the sword blade, said "ASTM Process 50, 4 hours". They said "It'll be ready Thursday". The result was far better than anything in period; you could cut through logs with those blades without damaging them.

    • > Back in my SCA days, one local sword maker described how he did it. He started with blanks intended for use as auto leaf springs. After suitable grinding, he had them heat treated. This was Cleveland when it had steel mills. He went to a heat treating shop, handed over the sword blade, said "ASTM Process 50, 4 hours". They said "It'll be ready Thursday".

      You mean, all those years I spent quenching my swords in the flowing blood of one-eyed transvestite lumberjacks of royal ancestry, and I would have

  • I used to like Baron the best, but Swordsmith wins hands-down.
  • My god, imagine how much money Slashdot could extort out of Microsoft if they demanded that MS buy ads from them if they ever wanted Taco to shut up about MS's failings...

    Oh wait. They buy ads anyways. Curse you, Microsoft, for foiling my nefarious plan!
  • The question is: Are some guys in SF running a sword forum trying to extort a sword maker? Or is a guy in Texas who sells $11,000 swords sueing some hobbyists from SF in a Texas court to get them to shut up because he doesn't think they can afford the defense.

    Since I doubt the sword forum is a real money maker for the guys that run it, I think they do it because they like swords, and my gut tells me that they probably aren't trying to squeeze the guy for advertising money.

    I hate the fact that the courts c

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.

Working...