Should it be okay to sue librarians for saying your books are bad?

Learned about this story two days ago and by the time I could put something together it has zipped around the internet already. Long story short: blogging academic librarian (and librarian.net favorite Dale Askey) makes negative probably-factual statements about a publisher. Publisher sues librarian and his current employer (who was not his employer at the time of the blog post) for millions of dollars for libel. Not okay, right? While the suit will probably prove groundless, it’s a waste of people’s time and money and an assault on the idea of academic and intellectual freedom. Please inform yourself and spread the word about Edwin Mellen Press’ wrongheaded decision to sue a librarian for writing about his negative impressions of their products.

  1. I first read about this here. Additional links including the “notice of action” are here.
  2. Specifics at Inside Higher Ed here
  3. Read the deleted-but-archived blog post in question here.
  4. McMaster’s public statement is here.
  5. A very nice “What can be done” assessment. In short: consider removing any automatic purchases from Mellen Press
  6. Dale’s blog and his twitter feed
  7. BoingBoing and Gawker have taken notice.
  8. If you are the petition signing type, please sign this petition.

5 Responses to “Should it be okay to sue librarians for saying your books are bad?”

  1. Stephen Michael Kellat Says:

    As a Canadian colleague reminded once at a conference, there is no equivalent to the First Amendment to the US Constitution in Canadian law. This will be interesting.

  2. ACRLog » Scholarly Publishing: Still Not Making Sense Says:

    [...] and higher ed news outlets. There were articles in the Chron and Inside Higher Ed yesterday, and Jessamyn West has a nice roundup of coverage of the story, too. On Friday McMaster released a statement affirming their support of Askey and [...]

  3. John Kirriemuir Says:

    Good post. The more librarians – especially those in purchasing decision positions – aware of this specific case, the better.

    This by John Dupuis on ScienceBlogs yesterday has more links to articles and posts at the bottom, as news spreads:

    http://scienceblogs.com/confessions/2013/02/09/publisher-hits-new-low-suing-librarian-for-criticizing-their-books/

  4. Kate Wagner Says:

    @Stephen Michael Kellat

    Canadian law does have protections for free speech; it’s in section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, those protections do not extend to hate speech or incitements to violence.

  5. an open letter to the Edwin Mellen Press | lis.dom Says:

    [...] Dale Askey is also a librarian. Several years ago, he published a blog post critical of the quality of the scholarship and books put out by Edwin Mellen Press. The blog post has since been removed, but Edwin Mellen Press sued both Askey and his current employer. Mellen has now dropped at least one of those lawsuits, citing, among other things, “social media pressure,” and, among others, that it is “a small company” and “must choose its resources on its business and its authors.” [...]