The (unofficial) blog of the BCLA Information Policy Committee
Fresh (Possibly Bizarre) Activity in Mellen Press vs Dale Askey lawsuit situation
March 29, 2013Posted by on
Not content with suing librarian Dale Askey for his opinion (see BCLA’s statement on the issue), Edwin Mellen Press is sending its lawyers out (or at least letters from the lawyers) to get blog posts critical of its operations taken down. The Scholarly Kitchen has the letter here.
What did those posts say? According to the letter they attacked the character of the publisher. As Gary Price from the Infodocket points out in his article on the subject, it’s actually hard to remove something from the internet, so let’s see those posts again (thanks for the links). From the first of the taken down posts (via the Internet Wayback Machine, which has prompted at least one tweeter to speculate if Archive.org will be the next entity sued by EMP):
[Dr. Richardson, owner of Edwin Mellen Press] mentioned that Askey had written a highly negative blog posting about EMP in 2010 (the posting has been removed from his blog but retrieved by EduHacker and posted here). As I recall, Dr. Richardson characterized the posting as “scurrilous.” I told him I had never met Askey; he had left the U of U before I was hired in 2007. I got the impression that Dr. Richardson believed it was Askey’s fault our library had stopped buying EMP titles, but I explained that I had worked as an academic bookseller and an acquisitions librarian for 20 years and had formed my own opinion of EMP a long time ago, and that it was my own familiarity with EMP that had led us to stop buying the press’ books.
Dr. Richardson then launched into a long defense of the quality and uniqueness of his list. I finally had to cut him off so I could go to a meeting. It was easily the strangest phone conversation I’ve ever had with a publisher.
And from the other post:
It is abundantly clear that the point of ACUP’s open letter was not to confirm or defend EMP’s character as a reputable scholarly publisher; on the contrary, it was to defend Askey’s posting as “the views of an experienced and professional university librarian” and his expressed views as “fair comment,” and to call on EMP to stop persecuting Askey for engaging in legitimate criticism. In other words, having been castigated publicly for behaving in a manner fundamentally antithetical to scholarship and freedom of expression, EMP then deliberately drew the public’s attention to that criticism and attempted to characterize it as “confirmation” of its scholarly status. This is simply bizarre.
Also interesting, apparently whoever’s registered the domain name daleaskey.net uses a mellenpress.com email address. The registrar for daleaskey.com is firstname.lastname@example.org. Daleaskey.org has the most tenuous connection to EMP, only sharing the hosting company with the registrar for daleaskey.net. Admittedly this could all be nothing, and I’m sure a lawyer-friendly organization like EMP wouldn’t create a Fake Dale Askey online presence. But still. It’s kind of bizarre. [UPDATE: @DaveYP has a spreadsheet of EMP's domain holdings if you're interested in digging in further.]