200609200233Before we even wade into Ellison v Fantagraphics, we want to make one thing clear: don’t count Harlan out. He’s 16-0 in lawsuits. He’s beaten ABC, Paramount (three times, he says), Universal and AOL. The guy is a scrapper. He may be a little past his prime, but you underestimate him at your peril.

200609200233-1With a legion of “John Does” out there waiting we be added to the complaint, we’re in no hurry to become “Jane Doe.” But we’re happy to provide background. Links, anyway.

For those who want a novella length (30,000 word) history of the feud up until 1995, there’s Richard Cusick’s Gauntlet article, probably the most objective (if such a thing there could be) account of the early history of the tiff, complete with petty convention shenanigans and dueling secret organizations. We read this when it came out and it is heavy heavy going, even if amusing. It does introduce many of the side players, however, such as Clifford Meth, Peter David and Christopher Priest. (Not the comics writer, the other one.)

Of course, there are the preview pages of COMICS AS ART: WE TOLD YOU SO, which led to the suit. For now you can read Groth’s offending statements in context here. [Personal to Gary and Kim: You might want to take these down.]

Of course, there’s also the video of Ellison’s recent boob grabbing performance at the Hugos, where some juvenile horseplay with SF writer Connie Willis became a mini cause celebre, drawing the ire of many in the SF community. (Ellison since apologized.)

Harlan has his say at his Harlan Ellison Webderland: Unca Harlan’s Art Deco Dining Pavilion message board. (The format is…unique so you may have to scroll down or around to find this.)

When it comes to litigation, I am neither capricious nor greedy; I am, however, dogged and unrelenting.

The Groth Action is, well, yes, as several of you noted, LOOOOONG overdue. I’ve attempted to stay away from Groth, Kim Thompson and Fantagraphics as if they were SARS-cum-AIDS-cum-Asian Bird Flu, but, from continuing to send me unwanted and odious flyers and pamphlets for his pornographic comics line (against which annoyance I finally had to go to the Postmaster General’s Office), to reprinting my material without even the core courtesy of sending me a standard contributors’ copy, to belittling and calumnifying my name in every venue, and at every opportunity presented to him, Groth and his minions have continued to “poke the bear” for thirty years. Finally, I’d had enough. Suit filed in Federal District Court in Santa Monica on the 7th of this month; personal service of the complaint was the 15th, at the Fantagraphics charnelhouse, with Thompson (I’m told) reluctantly accepting for Groth, Fantagraphics, et al.

Kim Thompson weighs in, warily, at the TCJ board thread

Gary and I are now, between us, a half century’s worth of older and wiser than we were when Fleisher sued us, and one big wisdom gleaned is this: Don’t comment on a lawsuit you’re involved in. (I think our lawyer at the time of the Fleisher case wanted to have this tattooed backwards on our foreheads so that we’d see it every morning in the mirror.)

Just this: To say that the lawsuit contains a myriad of inaccuracies, errors, and outright untruths is standard lawsuit-response boilerplate, and I feel comfortable making that statement here…and that no one should consider ANYTHING in this most peculiar document as having any bearing on reality unless expressly told otherwise by independent sources.

Ah…the complaint. It is a work of art. If nothing else comes of this, it has already spawned a bunch of phrases that can be used in myriad situations: “Tiny but hostile.” “Secret tropical vacation.” “Fecklessness.” “Somewhat jejune.” Imagine Gandalf and Saruman going at it with thesauruses!

If anything is to be learned from this it’s that what a waste of time it is for talented men with large vocabularies to engage in such a petty meaningless war. it’s also sad that, due to California’s molasses-like court speed, this will drag on for years and years, denying us regular doses of entertainment.

We’ll give Ellison the last word for now, in a Wired interview that sums up many of the paradoxes of the matter:

I despise litigation.


  1. I tend to give Mr. Ellison the benefit of the doubt on this. If memory serves, the orginal version of this kicked off when Mr. Groth egged Mr. Fleisher on when Fleisher perceived a slanderous insult in what Ellison intended as a compliment (the “bugf**k” incident).

  2. If anything is to be learned from this it’s that what a waste of time it is for talented men with large vocabularies to engage in such a petty meaningless war.

    I think today it’s called, internet wank.

  3. It’s really not accurate to say Ellison is 16-0 in lawsuits or that he “beat” AOL. The AOL suit ended in a settlement, with both sides issuing statements that didn’t seem to say much of anything (see, for instance, http://www.sfwa.org/News/harlanaolsettle.htm ) AOL’s statement certainly didn’t seem to concede that Ellison’s position was correct.

    Generally speaking, an out of court settlement is not a “win” for either party; it’s usually a sign that both sides are afraid they might lose and want to take an easy way out. Since I’m not a historian of Ellison lawsuits, I’m not sure if any of his other lawsuits may also have ended in draws.

    The Fantagraphics suit seems quite frivolous.

  4. The defamation portion of the complaint may be meritless, as it is doubtful that harm to Ellison’s career can be proved, but the second portion, involving the unauthorized use of Ellison’s image on the book cover, may have some teeth under California’s “right of publicity” laws. I’m betting the real object of this is to either stop publication of _Comics As Art_ or get the cover and possibly some of the interior changed.

    And secondarily, of course, to whomp Groth upside the head.

  5. Ever see Galloway and Hitchens go at each other? ‘traduce’ and ‘popinjay’ sent me running to the dictionary.

  6. Scott Bieser is dead on correct.

    Oh, and to assuage Kevin Greenlee’s concerns as to whether or not I “won” the lawsuit against AOL / RemarQ / et al, on the charges of internet piracy of my work, well, I was able to repay (in the neighborhood of) more than $40,000 contributed by like-thinking readers, writers, fans and those who despise internet pilferage. They also paid all attorney fees
    and reimbursed me for my expenses. As it was NEVER my intention to make money off the litigation, I spent four years at it to make the condition of existence safer and more salubrious for WRITERS, no matter how much it pissed off the blogosphere wood-lice who think they should be allowed to misappropriate anything in the universe just because they wanna wanna gimme gimme.

    The Groth matter is a very different kettle of rancid Swedish herring.

    But, Heidi, we’ve known each other since the Plieocene. If you ever need to find out what’s what–as I view it–you have my phone number.

    Yr. pal, Harlan

  7. I am pleased that Harlan Ellison is satisfied with the settlement he received in the AOL case but, of course, that does not change the fact that it was a settlement and not a “win.” A settlement is, at best, a draw and so perhaps it would be more accurate to state that Harlan Ellison’s lawsuit record is 15-0-1.

    As an attorney, Mr. Ellison, I might respectfully suggest that you clarify your remark that Scott Bieser is “dead on correct.” Mr. Bieser wrote that the defamation count of your suit was “meritless.” If you are agreeing with that assessment, you are publicly confessing that you are wasting the court’s time by knowingly filing frivolous litigation (apparently in an attempt to intimidate someone into suppressing publication of material you do not like). I can assure you that that is not the sort of thing upon which courts look kindly.

    While there most certainly are a whole host of reasons why the defamation count is as frivolous as Harlan Ellison and Mr. Bieser concede, the “right of publicity” count is just as weak. If you read the case law, you’ll see there’s a very clear exception to the right of publicity made for the informational or incidental use of names and likenesses by news organizations. They define this exception rather broadly; Something Weird video, for instance, ran ads featuring the name and likeness of Betty Page to promote the re release of some vintage Page films. She sued. The court found that Something Weird had the right to re release the films, that the re release was newsworthy and that the use of her name and likeness was therefore perfectly legal. The Comics Journal using Harlan Ellison’s name on the cover of a book to promote the re release of an interview with him that they held the rights to sounds to me as if it might fall into the same sort of basic category as the Page case.

    I realize that Harlan Ellison believes his case is more complicated that that because of the fact that he has trademarked his name. If you want to see how trademark issues complicate a right of publicity case, check out, for instance, the famous cases involving Kareem Abdul Jabbar or the New Kids on the Block. You’ll find that the trademark issue really only becomes relevant if Fantagraphics used the Harlan Ellison name in such a way as to suggest their interview book had been sponsored or in some way endorsed by Harlan Ellison. If you recall, they actually printed a bit of an insult next to his name. Did anyone who saw that cover- with the name of Harlan Ellison and the insult printed next to it- really and truly believe that Mr. Ellison had in any way sponsored or endorsed the volume?

    I really have a difficult time seeing much of a case here.

  8. Mr. Greenlee:

    With all due respect to your proud announcement of Argument by Authority — I am an ATTORNEY — and gee, we don’t get to see many of THOSE around — since you are commenting on matters the specificity of which you admittedly know NOTHING, yet seem truly ferocious to prove that I haven’t won ALL my litigation OVER THE LAST FIFTY YEARS — a considerably better record than you, yourself — an A>T>T>O>R>N>E>Y –can boast, let me attempt yet one more time (y’know, you bring me a lot in mind of a tar baby that traps the paws when you reach for it) to mollify you:

    AOL “settled” because a Federal District Court and the Appellate Court said they were wrong, and that if we went to trial, as AOL realized, they would get their ass kicked. Their “settlement” gave me everything I was seeking, including their taking down usenet, and installing procedures to protect copyright. Now what, sir, if you can extract your barrister brain from your barrister butt for a second, would you call that … if not a win?!?

    I got everything I started the suit to effect, got all my money back, and made the world safer for writers and others. As I’ve repeatedly said, and you’ve repeatedly ignored, I did all that WITHOUT having to waste the courts time further. I’d call that a no-escape-clause in-yer-face-Greenlee WIN for the Good Guy. That would be me.

    Now, please, I beg of thee, do not show contrition or even common sense in your snappish reply to this charming coda. One wouldn’t want to call you evenhanded or capable of admitting you blow smoke when you don’t have the facts.

    Gee, if IIIIII wuz an UTTURNEE, I could go before the bar just like you.

    Yr. pal, Harlan Ellison

  9. P.S.

    Hey, Greenlee, we BOTH know that I was referring to Mr. Bieser’s observation that I wanted to whomp Groth upside the head, and not the other dithyrambs you used for obfuscation and diversion. You ought to try sleight-of-hand, kiddo; you’ll do better than apparently is your lot “having a difficult time seeing much of a case here.”

    Unlike an ATTORNEY who merely traffics in litigation FOR THE MONEY, there are actually some of us out here who have a reverence for The Law, for Justice, for Balance in the Universe, and who despise getting tar-babied into litigation but understand that apart from hiring pistoleros to whack Thoe Who Dick With Us, the courts are the civilized way to go. And yet, by my going through proper channels — whether my case has merit or nay — you and others tsk tsk my looking up from the traces of the plow to seek redress.

    As Heidi has said, thinking I will be ANYBODY’s tool is done at the risk of the terminally foolish.

    Have I managed to stop your spasms of Cheyne-Stokes Breathing yet?

    Yr. Pal, Harlkan Fiske Stone

  10. Alan Coil-
    Thanks for correcting my typo! Guess I’ve just been re reading too many Betty and Veronica comics lately!

    Harlan Ellison-
    As a writer, I’m sure you recognize the value of using the correct word. It was (I think) Mark Twain who wrote that the difference between the right word and the not quite right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. Despite your apparent inability to see it, you use the wrong word when you describe the resolution of your AOL suit as a “win.”
    Words mean specific things. When you talk about a lawsuit, a “win” means that a judge or a jury looked at all the relevant facts and ultimately reached a final verdict in your favor. That did not happen in the AOL suit.

    When you talk about a “settlement” in a law suit, it means that- before a final verdict was reached- the parties in the suit reached a compromise and decided to drop the suit. That is what happened in the AOL suit.

    You may- correctly- point out that I am not personally privy to all of the details of the settlement, you may think the settlement was wildly favorable to you, you may think you deserve bouquets and the thanks of a grateful nation for dropping the suit instead of pursuing it the end but, Mr. Ellison, none of that changes the fact that this was a settlement and not a “win” and that a settlement is actually different from a win.

    I’m glad you cleared up the extent of your agreement with Mr. Bieser’s comment. Just as you use the wrong word “win” when you actually mean “settlement” I now understand that you use the wrong phrase “dead on correct” when you actually mean “partially correct and partially wrong.” Thanks for clearing that up!

    Your rants about lawyers and their motivations was interesting but, since you do not know me or the criteria I use to make my professional choices, I assure you I took none of it personally.

    If you believe your comments somehow unnerved me to the extent of bringing on abnormal breathing, I’d like to reassure you that nothing of the sort took place. In an earlier part of my career, I worked in close proximity to a variety of violent offenders, helping to get them off the streets. On one occasion, I even had a convicted murderer threaten to kill me. After things like that, words typed on a computer by a man twice my age who lives thousands of miles away are unlikely to give me the vapors.

  11. As those of us who have AOL know, Harlan did indeed win. AOL removed their link to Usenet groups so that AOL couldn’t be hammered again by someone whose copyright was violated by Usenet, and AOL had made Usenet available to members for many years. Now to access Usenet is more trouble than it’s worth to me.

  12. Mr. Van Hise-

    1) You “win” a lawsuit when a judge or jury hears all of the relevant facts and reaches a final verdict in your favor and that verdict is entered into the court record. When a case is settled, there is no final verdict and neither party can be said to have “won” or “lost” in the eyes of the court. Even if- as part of the settlement- AOL agreed to cut back services to their members in order to placate Mr. Ellison that agreement would have been part of a settlement agreed to by both parties and not manadated as part of a court order springing from an Ellison victory in the suit.

    2) Mr. Ellison and AOL settled their case in June 2004. AOL continued to offer their subscribers access to usenet until February 2005. Company spokespeople indicated they were cutting access to usenet because the growth of blogs and messageboards were making newsgroups increasingly irrelevant and unpopular. Despite your claim to the contrary, then, it would appear that the removal of AOL’s link to usenet had nothing to do with the Ellison lawsuit.

  13. Gotta say, Kevin, I find it curious that you seem to hold Ellison to such specificity as to the definition of “win” (I always thought a “win” was when you accomplished successfully everything you set out to do) when you don’t hold yourself to similar stringent definitions.

    You stated, “As an attorney, Mr. Ellison, I might respectfully suggest that you clarify your remark that Scott Bieser is “dead on correct.â€? Mr. Bieser wrote that the defamation count of your suit was “meritless.â€?

    No. He didn’t. He wrote it “may be meritless.” I took that to mean as in yet to be determined, and is for a judge to decide. Certainly since you are an attorney–as you were quick to point out–you’d be aware that judges’ decisions are required to determine absolutely whether there’s merit to the case or not.

    So it’s nice that you’re so attentive to how Harlan Ellison presents facts; you may want to apply that laser-like efficiency to yourself. Just a thought.


  14. Ellison says, “I got everything I started the suit to effect, got all my money back, and made the world safer for writers and others.”

    On the TCJ.com messboard, Greenlee replies, “At its heart, this suit was about arriving at a legal definition of the internet and how it must be regulated (or not regulated) to protect the rights of copyright holders. If Ellison’s point of view prevailed (as he KNEW it would) there would now be in place a strong precedent protecting the rights of all writers. But he settled and so there’s no precedent and therefore no real benefit to anyone but Ellison.”

    What do Ellison, Van Hise, and/or David have to say in response Greenlee’s argument? If Ellison wanted to make the world safer for writers, and he KNEW he’d win his suit, why didn’t he follow through and establish a precedent that would protect the rights of ALL writers? Surely, they don’t pooh-pooh the importance of legal precedent in the protection of rights, or do they? Or, to put a finer point on it, did the settlement of Ellison’s suit really “make the world safer for writers” than a legal precedent (established by actually WINNING the case) would have?

  15. Mr. David uses a classic debate tactic- if you can’t defend a position, change the subject and, if possible, personally attack the person on the other side. Unless I’m very badly mistaken, no one anywhere has the slightest interest in a thread about me and how I live my life and so I’ll ignore his rather transparent attempt to muddy the waters.

    The only thing in his message I could find that appeared to be relevant was that- under his own personal criteria- if a person actually gets everything he wants in an out of court settlement then it can be said that he “won” his case. This reminds me of a joke Abraham Lincoln used to tell, a joke I paraphrase like this:

    If Peter David calls a dog’s tail a leg, then how many legs does the dog have? He has four legs because calling a tail a leg does not make it one.

    In other words, Mr. David, you can say that Mr. Ellison “beat” AOL. Mr. Ellison can repeat that claim over and over again and it can even be quoted uncritically in the media but none of that changes the actual fact that the case ended in a settlement and not a “win.”

    And, as my anonymous friend from the TCJ board reminds us, an actual victory in this case would have established a valuable legal precedent that would have made it much more difficult to distribute unauthorized copies of writers’ work over the newsgroups. But I guess Mr. Ellison doesn’t really care about that because- at least according to Mr. David- Mr. Ellison’s suit accomplished everything he wanted it to do.

  16. “Mr. David uses a classic debate tactic- if you can’t defend a position, change the subject and, if possible, personally attack the person on the other side.”

    Noooo, Mr. David was pointing out that your statement–“As an attorney, Mr. Ellison, I might respectfully suggest that you clarify your remark that Scott Bieser is “dead on correct.â€? Mr. Bieser wrote that the defamation count of your suit was “meritless”–was, in fact, fulla crap because that’s not what Mr. Bieser wrote. And Mr. David was pointing out that you were holding Ellison to a standard of conduct you yourself were not meeting. And now Mr. David is going to point out that you completely dodged that simple assertion in your response, choosing to obsess over Mr. David’s definition of winning.

    Apparently you consider pointing out that what someone claimed to be the truth is demonstrably false is simply a “muddying of the waters.”


  17. Since Mr. David persists in claiming that the most important issue at stake here is my alleged misreading of a comment by Scott Bieser, I will be delighted to address the issue- even though I feel it is a rather transparent attempt to change the subject. I am sure Mr. David will have the courtesy to return the favor and address the issues I feel he has dodged. Namely-

    Do you understand that there is an objective definition of winning a lawsuit? Do you understand that it is different from settling a lawsuit? Do you understand that no matter what your or Harlan Ellison’s personal definition of “winning” a lawsuit may be that it is not actually won unless a judge or a jury reviews all of the relevant facts and returns a verdict in your favor? Do you believe Harlan Ellison mischaracterized events when he repeatedly claims that he “won” a lawsuit he in fact settled? Do you understand that if he had actually won the lawsuit- which he claims he could very easily have done- it would have provided a legal precedent that would have been a boon for the protection of intellectual property on the internet? Will you totally ignore these questions and once again attack me personally?

    Now- on to Mr. Bieser’s comment. He wrote “The defamation portion of the complaint may be meritless, as it is doubtful that harm to Ellison’s career can be proved, but the second portion, involving the unauthorized use of Ellison’s image on the book cover, may have some teeth under California’s “right of publicityâ€? laws.”

    I interpreted this in much the same way a person might interpret a sentence like “I may be hungry but eating at Burger King may not be a good idea.” In other words- despite the use of the word “may”- I read him as asserting that the defamation part of the suit was weak and that the right of publicity portion was stronger. I submit that this is a perfectly reasonable reading of what he wrote (especially since he indicated it was “doubtful” Mr. Ellison could prove a key part of his case).

    Remember too that my interpretation of Mr. Bieser’s comment appeared once- and just a few inches below the comment in question. Anyone who read what I wrote only had to scroll up a bit to see Mr. Bieser’s comment and therefore see for themselves whether or not I had done violence to his words. Mr. Ellison, on the other hand, has repeated his claim that he “beat” AOL over and over again, in a variety of venues, and people exposed to that claim are usually not able to “fact check” it as easily as they could my interpretation of Mr. Bieser’s comment.

  18. Scott Bieser-

    Even though I feel my reading of your comment was reasonable, I understand that there are other reasonable readings of it as well. If I misinterpreted what you wrote, please let me know and I’ll apoligize.

  19. For someone who purports to be a lawyer, Mr. Greenlea certainly enjoys distorting facts. Nowhere did I say “the most important issue” was what he claims; it does, however, evince a staggering sense of self-importance on his part. Mr. Greenlea’s opinions and postings are not only not the most important issue in the grand scheme of things, they’re not even the most important issue in this thread. It is, at most, mildly interesting that he first felt the need to dodge my observation entirely, and then attempt to put forward a massive interpretation of a simple comment in order to avoid acknowledging that he put something in quotes that was a misquote.

    An “objective definition” of winning? I find that as relevant as an objective definition of “asshole.” If I say “Gary Groth is an asshole,” will Mr. Greenlea summon a doctor to assert that, no no, Gary Groth is indisputably not an asshole because an asshole is something very specific and he obviously doesn’t fit that definition? I have stated what I feel “winning” entails. So has Mr. Greenlea. The relevant question–if Mr. Greenlea is capable of hewing to relevancy–is, “Is there a LEGAL defintion of ‘winning?” I don’t claim, as Mr. Greenlea does, to be a lawyer. However, I will observe that several popular websites which feature legal definitions offer exactly zip in terms of defining the word “win.” That being the case, it becomes not objectivity but instead merely opinion, and last I heard, opinions are like assholes–everyone has one (and, as noted, some people are one…albeit not objectively.)

    As for why Mr. Ellison did or did not pursue various avenues, and what he coulda/woulda/shoulda done, I’m unclear why Mr. Greenlea thinks it’s incumbent upon me to explain on Ellison’s behalf. It goes back to the sense of self-aggrandizement that he seems to think he is somehow due such answers/speculations/ponderings. I merely pointed out two things: that I have a different definition of “win” than Mr. Greenlea, and that Mr. Greenlea played fast and loose with facts while accusing Mr. Ellison of the same behavior. All of Mr. Greenlea’s subsequent, assertions, comments and innuendo as to what he thinks I owe him in the spirit of “debate”–which I don’t feel obligated to enter into simply because he thinks I’m supposed to– are entirely his own lookout.


  20. As someone Who Is Not A Lawyer, I find this whole debate kind of ridiculous. That Harlan Ellison thinks he won the AOL lawsuit may be interesting, but it has no legal standing and is strictly his opinion. Lacking a ruling by a judge or jury, the settlement with AOL cannot be characterized as a “win” for Mr. Ellison, however favorable the terms may have been. I’m not sure why he feels the need to deny reality in this case and claim a victory that no lawyer in the land–or anyone except for his close friends, apparently–would recognize as such.

  21. Mr. David (who apparently can’t even be bothered to spell my name correctly) continues to resort to personal attack- the perennial tactic of the person who cannot defend his position. His rant against me does far more to highlight the weakness of his point of view then anything I could say.

    Needless to say, whether or not a person is, to quote Mr. David, an “asshole” is a matter of opinion. But whether or not a person won a lawsuit is an objective fact- you can go down to the courthouse and look it up.

    I’m with Scott D- this is an utterly absurd and ridiculous debate. No matter how many times, Mr. Ellison or his friends insist that up is down, they are still wrong. No matter how many times Mr. David personally attacks me, he still cannot transform a settlement into a win.

  22. Even though it’s a side issue, I think anyone who comes to this conversation without an ax to grind or a friendship with Mr. Ellison to protect would agree with Mr. Greenlee that his (Mr. Greenlee’s) interpretation of Mr. Bieser’s comment and Mr. Ellison’s response was perfectly reasonable and that Ellison ought to be more careful about what he says here. Of course, if Mr. Greenlee were, like Mr. Ellison, bringing a lawsuit against Fantagraphics, or, like Mr. Groth, named in the lawsuit against Fantagraphics, he would ALSO be well advised to shut up, or at least to choose his words VERY carefully–but the fact is, Mr. Greenlee is neither suing nor being sued. So even if Mr. Greenlee’s perfectly reasonable interpretation Mr. Bieser’s comment and Mr. Ellison’s response turns out to be incorrect, it matters not one whit!

  23. Interesting “anonymous” (anonymous posters are *always* so deserving of respect) ascribes ground axes solely to Ellison or myself, while presumably ascribing total neutrality to Mr. Greenlee–a regular poster on the TCJ message board (a quick check reveals; I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Mr. A were similarly inclined; since he has not the strength of character to sign his name, there’s no way of knowing.)

    The purpose of my original post was very simple: Mr. Greenlee’s comments were hypocritical. His response was to try and put me on the defensive, announce we were in a debate, and demand me to defend positions that he laid out. Doesn’t do a damned thing to diminish either very simple point: “win” is a subjective term, not objective (unless he’d care to point me to a legal definition of “win”) and his initial comments were still hypocritical.

    Nothing is going to change either point, so sure, I’m perfectly happy to move on.


  24. What’s really funny is that both Peter David and Harlan Ellison have nothing better to do with their free time than troll newsboards and spin blog posts.

    Nobody cares about Ellison and his AOL suit because up until the Hugos, where he pawed the guest of honor and called Virginia Heinlein a bitch, most of us thought he was long retired. I’m not betting that he’ll be asked to appear at another convention any time soon.

    And I guess Peter David is all caught up with his comic book deadlines if he’s got the time to come in here and try to convince everyone that settling a lawsuit out of court is a win.

    Anyone else writing anything worth reading these days? Because these two guys apparently aren’t.

  25. I’m delighted to do as Heidi suggested and walk away from this incredibly stupid debate. But, since Mr. David, took the opportunity to make one last post taking even more digs at me, I’ll make a final post on the subject as well.

    As Mr. David continues to demonstrate, the only weapon in his arsenal appears to be the personal attack. And as to the merits of that attack… Well, no one but Mr. David- not even Scott Bieser- seems to think I did violence to Mr. Bieser’s original comment. So much for my hypocrisy.

    The difference between winning and settling a lawsuit is not some minor or obscure legal point. Each word means a different thing with different ramifications.

    If a sports team favored by Mr. David or Mr. Ellison scored less runs than its opponent, would they stomp their feet petulantly and declare that their team really “won” because they couldn’t find a definition of “win” on the internet? Would they claim their team really “won” because the sportswriters were all hypocrites who occasionally posted to an internet message board they didn’t like?

  26. “anonymous posters are *always* so deserving of respect”

    In the old days of the internet, anonymity was seen as a virtue. People, it was thought, would be judged not on the basis of their names or their ages or their professions or other irrelevancies but on the quality of their ideas and arguments. So much for that utopian vision.

  27. You also have to protect yourself from people who sue everyone in sight for every perceived slight. Like, uh….

  28. “If a sports team favored by Mr. David or Mr. Ellison scored less runs than its opponent, would they stomp their feet petulantly and declare that their team really “wonâ€? because they couldn’t find a definition of “winâ€? on the internet? ”

    Ah ah ah…once again, the ability to accurately quote someone eludes Mr. Greenlee’s fine legal mind. I never said a definition of “win” could not be found on the internet. I said a “legal” definition of “win” could not be found in various sites that purported to offer definitions of all things legal.

    Since Mr. Greenlee has yet to provide a definitive legal definition–which leads me to believe my original conclusion was correct and there isn’t one–I’ll be happy to conclude this with a dictionary definition:

    Win: To achieve success in an effort or venture. (American Heritage Dictionary of the English language).

    However, I do admit to a certain curiosity: All these anonymous stalwarts who believe that Ellison hasn’t done enough or that I am apparently spending my time in pursuits that are–it seems–a waste of time for me, but not for them. How many NY Times bestsellers have you produced? How many fights for writer’s rights have you undertaken, win, lose or draw?

    You’re quite accomplished at talking the talk against those who have walked the walk. How are YOUR walking shoes?


  29. I’ve produced the same number of NY Times bestsellers as Harlan Ellison has.

    As for fights for writers’ rights (note the correct comma placement), if squabbling with bloggers is your mode of combat, lord help us all.

  30. “However, I do admit to a certain curiosity: All these anonymous stalwarts who believe that Ellison hasn’t done enough or that I am apparently spending my time in pursuits that are–it seems–a waste of time for me, but not for them. How many NY Times bestsellers have you produced? How many fights for writer’s rights have you undertaken, win, lose or draw?”

    Ellison claimed in one of his messages on this blog that his settlement with AOL “made the world safer for writers and others.” If you think Ellison’s claim ought not to be scrutinized just because he’s written a NY Times bestseller, or brought umpteen other lawsuits against various people and organizations, well, you’re the one Ellison ought to take to task for embracing the dreaded argumentum ad verecundiam.

  31. Sorry about the “taunting,” Heidi. Here’s what I ought to have written:

    Peter David says, “Nothing is going to change either point, so sure, I’m perfectly happy to move on.” But I see he’s back, making the same tired points over again. So was Peter David really “perfectly happy to move on”? Hardly!

  32. I have no problem with giving Mr. David the last word in this absurd discussion- since it’s apparently important to him. But for that to happen either Heidi is going to have to do the merciful thing and euthanize thisthread or Mr. David is going to need to demonstrate a heretofore unseen ability to compose a comment without launching into personal attacks.

    First things first. I readily admit that when I composed my last comment that I was operating under the assumption that all the readers of this blog- including Mr. David- were familiar with something called a “quotation mark.” Quotation marks look like this “” and are used to indicate when a person is directly quoting someone. Since I didn’t use quotation marks in my last post around any words other than won and win, it didn’t occur to me that anyone would think I was attempting to quote someone when I used any other words. Needless to say, if anyone other than Mr. David believes that the last paragraph of my previous comment represented a botched attempt to quote him then they are hearby advised that that is not the case.

    I mentioned before that a classic tactic of someone who cannot defend his position is to try to change the subject and personally attack his opponent. Another classic tactic- which Mr. David showed in his most recent post- is to suggest that their opponents do not have the right to disagree with them. He seems to suggest that we cannot challenge his statements until we reach precisely the same status in life as he has. Taken to an extreme, this position would also seem to indicate that I can never say a word against President Bush because I’ve never been President. And, of course, my Republican friends cannot criticize Hillary Clinton because they’ve never been a Senator who was once married to a President.

    If any masochists care to re read this thread, they’ll find I’ve tried to make two points.
    1) A settlement is different from winning a lawsuit. For one thing, when you win a lawsuit you create a precedent and when you settle a lawsuit you do no such thing.

    2) Harlan Ellison should probably avoid making public comments that could be read as suggesting that he believes any part of his ongoing lawsuit is “meritless.”

    Those two points seem very basic and non controversal to me. Instead of simply ignoring them or responding to them in a substantive manner, Mr. Ellison and Mr. David have instead chosen to repeatedly attack me personally. Let’s see, Mr. Ellison compared me to a “tar baby”and called my personal morality into question by suggesting that as an attorney I am only interested in litigation for the money I can make at it. Mr. David then joined the fun. He noted that I “purport..” to be a lawyer, thereby indirectly suggesting that my claim to be an attorney is a lie. He claimed I have a “staggering sense of self importance” and is convinced I am a hypocrite because I do not read a comment the way he (and so far ONLY he) chooses to. He suggests that because I occasionally post to a message board he does not like that I am somehow biased, though- of course- he is apparently unable to actually demonstrate this bias or how it affected the two points I mentioned earlier. He sarcastically refers to my “fine legal mind” because part of a comment I wrote that obviously was not in any way intended to be a direct quote was not a direct quote.

    Does the style of discussion Mr. Ellison and Mr. David have chosen to use actually convince anyone of the correctness of their views or does it only make them look like bullies?