A Bleeping Lawsuit That You Should Definitely Know About


I’m mad! You should be too.

angry man- smallerYou see, computer people have their favorite tools. Tools they’ve found through trial and error, tools they’ve come to trust, tools they’ve used for years, and tools they’ll recommended to others. Ask a computer “guy” how to do something and he will more than likely suggest you use a tool he knows and trusts will do the job. DCT is no different. If we believe in a product or service we recommend it to our readers and list it in the DCT Recommended area to the right of this article. It provides a service and, in a way, helps those who may have chosen a different product which might not have functioned as well. Ask a question on the forum and whoever responds will likely suggest the tools they have used and trust. If you ask a carpenter what air nailer he uses and he’ll likely tell you. He’ll also tell you why he uses that tool.

Those of us who follow the industry hear about others’ success, and failures, with their tools of choice. We generally know the good ones, even if they aren’t our preferred choice. We know the companies with shoddy reputations. We know the companies whose advertising methods are questionable. We also know the bad ones and we’ll let you know if you’re using one.

No good deed goes unpunished

click for larger size

click for larger size

Bleepingcomputer.com is a well respected website whose purpose, just like ours at Daves Computer Tips, is to help people with computers and technology. No one could argue that this isn’t a noble cause. Well, almost no one.

In late 2014 a user stopped over at Bleeping Computer to ask a question. He was running three different security products and his computer was running slow. He was looking for help and the community stepped in to help this user by offering their advice. Advice gleaned from years of experience.

One of the products the user was running, SpyHunter, is also one of those programs with a less than stellar reputation within the community. One member, who also happens to be a Microsoft MVP, explained this to the user and provided evidence (with references I might add!) of deceitful billing, deceptive advertising, and user complaints about the software company, Enigma Software which owns SpyHunter, as well as instructions detailing how to remove it – the software makes some pretty drastic changes to a computer. All of this is exactly what one would expect and what would have happened at any other site offering the user assistance.


The best part of this whole story is that the user followed the forum member’s advice and was quite happy with the results!

And everything goes downhill… Fast

In most cases like this a company that cares about their product, the users, and the community would simply post on the forum and offer support to the customer. It shows goodwill and earns the company huge brownie points with the consumer and community alike.

This is NOT how Enigma Software handled the situation or you wouldn’t be reading this article!

Enigma Software contacted Bleeping Computer directly and asked that they censor delete the post, thereby removing all evidence of this grave misdeed from the internet. Of course, their request was dismissed by Bleeping Computer. This was a forum post by a highly regarded forum member. A member who spends considerable time helping users remove spyware from their computers. And what would a highly regarded forum member with lots of experience suggest using? Well, as you would expect he would suggest software that he knows and trusts from experience. He would also tell you about anything that could potentially be bad from his experience. This is exactly the type of response you would expect from a knowledgeable person honestly trying to help someone. Bleeping Computer didn’t delete the post – and I wouldn’t either. Personally I think he deserves a pat on the back and a hearty handshake!

A bleeping SLAPP lawsuit

So, your company may have a dubious reputation and you’ve missed a valuable opportunity to show goodwill toward a user and the community. It’s probably best to leave well enough alone and just walk away, right? Not Enigma Software.


Enigma filed a SLAPP lawsuit against Bleeping Computer. For those who’ve never heard the term, and I’m sure there are many, A SLAPP lawsuit is an acronym for Strategic lawsuit against public participation. In short it is a lawsuit usually brought by a larger plaintiff meant to bully a smaller defendant with the threat of large expenses for a legal defense. Lawyers aren’t cheap.

Wikipedia describes SLAPP as:

A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

New York Supreme Court Judge J. Nicholas Colabella had this to say about SLAPPs in 1992:

Short of a gun to the head, a greater threat to First Amendment expression can scarcely be imagined.

Not cool, Enigma. Not cool!

Freedom isn’t free

frivolous_lawsuitUnfortunately this is a thing and it needs to stop, now! Frivolous lawsuits like this cost taxpayers money, burden the courts, unduly hardship the defendants, and could literally change the internet we know and love. Bleepingcomputer.com’s legal team estimates it will take $100,000 to defend. Unfortunately most small sites, including DCT, don’t have a $10 legal budget let alone $100,000.

A lawsuit like this could easily shutter small websites across the internet, including DCT.

Take a few moments and read the following:

I’m putting my money were my mouth is and donating on behalf of DCT to Bleeping Computer’s defense fund as a show of solidarity with a fellow tech site and as a sign of support for free speech across the internet. I kindly ask that you show your support for bleepingcomputer.com by donating any amount you feel comfortable with and publicize the issue by sharing this post!

Click here to donate to the Bleepingcomputer.com legal defense fund!

 

Posted in:
About the Author

David Hartsock

Executive Editor/Owner/Admin of Daves Computer Tips and all-around good guy - Dave's interest in computers began in the early 1980's during the Apple II era. In the early 1990's the PC began to replace proprietary and mainframe devices in Dave's industry so he began to learn and experiment with the PC. Through DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and now Windows 10. Dave became the "go to" guy for friends, family, and coworkers with computer problems. Daves Computer Tips was born in 2006 in an effort to share these experiences with others in an easy to understand, plain English, form.

27 Comments

  1. Yes Dave, the bullies SLAPP the little guy and live by the ‘Might Is Right’ rule and as usual, are cowards of the highest degree, repeated often these days is sue, sue, sue for many ridiculous reasons.
    I visit and log in to Bleeping Computer and the forum on many occassions as the products and advice are trustworthy.
    I want to help, so I have sent a small donation.

    Regards,

    Jonno

  2. I’ve made my donation because this lawsuit could have been leveled against me. I have made the same suggestion to many. Frivolous lawsuits only benefit the attorneys. It;s time for one of these to bite the one bringing the suit.

  3. Dave, thanks for letting us know about this Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation filled by a huge law firm against Bleeping Computer.

    If it succeeds, the lawsuit will drive Bleeping Computer out of business. More important, it will make it difficult or nigh onto impossible for Dave’s Computer Tips — and others like it — to publish honest, hard-hitting evaluations — and readers’ comments — about computer products and services. A terrible result.

    I’ve made a small donation.

  4. Hello Dave, I totally agree this is a crock of s***, but I guess there’s always going to be some ****** bullies or what ever one prefers to call them. I’ve put some money in their pot and will forward this to all on my email list. The guy/gal who came up with this kind of lawsuit should be hung and worse. Tom

  5. Great Article Dave…. This makes me mad too! We need to let everyone know about this. Bleeping needs our support so this company and others know that this is not right. If they win again then they will continue to bully others. JS

  6. Thank you for posting. I have used your forum and Bleeping and similar for advice and help. You are all fantastic for all us “don’t have a clue” people! Support and sharing on the way! Thanks again.

  7. “Take down the article and done, right?

    If you want to play rough, then we will play this game.” – Enigma Software

    I’m for Enigma in this case, Bleeping Computer could have respected their decision and bleeped-out the bad parts that label SpyHunter as a bad company.

    Of course, not everyone will agree with everything.

      • I’m too lazy to think of reasons but I believe that Bleeping Computer should allow their request, no sarcasm.

        Sure, you are correct that they can learn a thing or two from the comment by the Microsoft MVP, yet they still went along and asked for the comment to be removed, so Bleeping Computer was asking for it by refusing.

        If you guys want to stand your ground, feel free to do so, just don’t be surprised when you are attacked with full force.

        Same thing with ad blocking and companies, we refuse to see their ads and now they are attacking with full force by making use turn it off or we can’t see content. We are asking for it. Accept the request or face the consequences.

        • It’s funny the way you confuse a “decision” with a request.

          So, in the (entirely hypothetical) event I would come around to your house and smack you in the head, that would be my “decision”, therefore you would have to “accept” it, right ?

        • The Microsoft MVP slapped Enigma Software on the head as it was his “decision” and they didn’t want to “accept” it, so they are fighting back.
          Bleeping Computer is playing the little kids game of “keep-away,” keeping Enigma Software away from getting what they want, thus the lawsuit to force them to abide by their “decision” of taking-down the post.

        • You’re being the little kid here.

          You don’t know good from bad, honest from dishonest, truth from lies.

          You’re just playing with words, trying to be the smart-alec, not adding anything to the discussion and generally trolling this thread.

        • I know the differences between right and wrong. but you just don’t like my viewpoint, and that’s okay, we are all different.

          Your direct attack at me by calling me a “kid” automatically labels you as a immature as well.(Childish tactics when things just don’t go your way)

          Be as it may, I stand my ground and I’m sorry we don’t see eye-to-eye, but you expect everyone to come and just side with your belief? You also came talking like a “Smart Alec,” with your witty remark about coming to my house and slapping me, I was merely countering you.

    • Think about this carefully megaman.

      This can potentially spell the end for all Help Forums if volunteers’ opinions could get the sites in trouble in this way.

      • I doubt it.
        People can still keep help sites running even without sharing negative opinions.

        Pirate sites keep dropping down, and others keep coming up.
        Same for any site for any reason.

        One thing is to disrespect a company and think it’s okay, when the said company is wasn’t okay with it, the other is to tell them to “get bent” when they asked nicely, at first.
        I would like a comparison of threads vs overall threads on that site that would be taking down due to a request, maybe 5% as my assumption, yet only Bleeping Computer can have statistics on that.

        “You have too many programs, so you might have to remove one. I recommend that you remove (Name of program).” Then, private message the user if they are so inclined to push why they recommend the said program, might have avoided this problem altogether.

        • How about an analogy instead?

          I have a life threatening illness. Company A comes along with a drug to treat this illness – let’s call it ItFixAlot. I take the drug and it not only doesn’t treat the illness but kills me. My wife in her grief researches ItFixAlot and finds that they skipped a few steps in the approval process and fudged some test results in their application. My wife posts her findings on the internet so that others will not have the same fate. She not only posts her opinion, but also references to others with the same experiences.
          Company A sees this post and realizes it could pop their billion dollar balloon and asks her to remove the post.

          Based on your opinion she should.

        • The company is being defamed, they should have their right as well.

          This article is biased and should I tell people not to come here because its biased and not neutral? Would you be okay with that?

          Besides, many users would have seen it and they can spread the word but spreading the word as it is, anyways. You are doing it here, as well, with this article.
          So, the exposure is not being hindered at all, but they can still take down a measly post and be fine while you have proof of said post.

          I even said it before, they could learn their lesson, but putting a company on the line is also at your own risk and don’t complain when actions being pushed against you, you walked into the minefield.

          Spreading a bit of information here and there, and then taken it down when asked or get fined $100,000. I’m still young, so I don’t know the world as well as others, but there can be tons of other forms of spreading the information around. (E-mails, messaging, other kinds of Social Media, and of course reports like your article)

        • The company is being defamed

          “to attack the good name or reputation of, as by uttering or publishing maliciously or falsely anything injurious; slander or libel; calumniate”
          In this instance the company has neither a good reputation, or name, and the information published was not malicious, false, or libelous.

          This article is biased

          How is the article biased? A company filed a baseless lawsuit against a website to force them to censor something that was well within their legal right – and some may say moral duty – to say.

          should I tell people not to come here because its biased and not neutral? Would you be okay with that?

          Of course I would prefer that you tell people to come and visit DCT, but if you feel we aren’t living up to our end of the bargain you may do as you wish – we generally believe in freedom of speech for everyone. However, if someone chose to do so I would hope that they would link to this article and let others draw their own conclusions.

          Besides, many users would have seen it and they can spread the word but spreading the word as it is, anyways. You are doing it here, as well, with this article.

          This wouldn’t be the case at all as the company in question would simply need to ask that the contents be removed – or threaten to sue. No one would know about the product or the company’s prior history.

          So, the exposure is not being hindered at all, but they can still take down a measly post and be fine while you have proof of said post.

          The exposure is there because myself, and many others across the internet, are standing up and trying to right a wrong.

          I even said it before, they could learn their lesson, but putting a company on the line is also at your own risk and don’t complain when actions being pushed against you, you walked into the minefield.

          That’s kinda the point of the article. The content wasn’t false and wasn’t libelous so there shouldn’t be a minefield to walk through.

          Spreading a bit of information here and there, and then taken it down when asked or get fined $100,000. I’m still young, so I don’t know the world as well as others, but there can be tons of other forms of spreading the information around. (E-mails, messaging, other kinds of Social Media, and of course reports like your article)

          Those things wouldn’t be there. What prevents them from requesting the removal of this article? What prevents them from filing a lawsuit and gaining discovery for your emails, text messages, and social media?

          We obviously have different viewpoints and can agree to disagree on this particular topic. I will say that freedom of speech is a right in the United States. In fact it’s a cornerstone of our foundation as a country and far too many people seem to have forgotten that.

          More importantly, you are allowed to express your opinion here at DCT and we won’t sue you if we don’t like it! 🙂

  8. Just visited Enigma Software website and send them this:

    “Just heard about your lawsuit against Bleeping Computer. Shame on you.”

    Maybe the voice of customers and potential customers will make them rethink their agressive policy of resorting to SLAPP lawsuits..

  9. megaman is just leading you around as if you were a bull with a ring in its nose. It’s funny for a while but then just gets boring. Better to just ignore such comments as they add nothing to the value of this website. Just like vomit on a sidewalk. Better to step around it rather then in it.

    • I”m not trying to lead anyone, but everyone that comes here is going to side for Bleeping Computer, so I am bound to get attacked from all sides, I was expecting it.
      I’m surprised it’s funny but it sure can be if you want it to.
      Of course, feel free to add value to what you feel is valuable, nothing wrong with that.

      My comment can be like vomit to you, sure, I expect this from people that disagree with me and people are free to walk around it.

      My counter on the Freedom of Speech is that some things we say can/should be governed by rules and regulations.

  10. Thanks for posting this and spreading awareness. I donated $75. I’ve been pulled out of some scrapes by Bleeping Computer and helped many others through them as well. I’m happy to give some back now that I can. I’d have donated to them in the past if I’d had much to spare. I can’t say enough how highly I think of their site, and DCT too!

  11. While I did not donate, I did go to Enigma and comment about how I thought the lawsuit was wrong for trying to eliminate an honest opinion.
    Brad