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[flagged] Final Ruling Against Patreon Opens Legal Avenue to Defend Against Deplatforming (reclaimthenet.org)
43 points by kregasaurusrex 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 21 comments





There seems to be a misunderstanding about this ruling.

It's just a ruling against an injunction that would have barred resolving the deplatforming dispute through arbitration.

It has no precendtial value. It has no probative value. It says nothing about how the underlying dispute will be resolved.

It should be seen as just one of many examples of the courts binding companies to the arbitration procedures companies included in their customer contracts in their attempts to avoid court.


Replying to myself because this comment is on a different topic: the arguments about deplatforming in the linked page are quite frankly ridiculous and are unlikely to succeed, whether made in court or in arbitration.

Patrons in patreon do not have a direct contractual relationship with the projects they sponsor, so there can be no tortious interference of contact.

The cases are simply a gambit that patreon will settle and let these racists back on the platform rather than pay the costs of arbitration.


There does not need to be a written contractual relationship to invoke tortious interference. The followers clearly intended to support Owen financially, not Patreon itself, so there is a financial relationship between them.

But given that Patreon was clearly and obviously a man-in-the-middle of the relationship and had policies which could be violated and which would terminate the relationship, and all parties knew this up front, then it is also clear to me that Patreon can freely choose to stop being a man-in-the-middle, and as such I don't think the tortious interference claim makes sense in this case.


There absolutely needs to be a contractual relationship between two parties in order for one of those parties to to make a successful claim for tortious interference of contract by another party. It's literally Torts 101.

If the followers wanted to have a contractual arrangement with Owen, they were free to do so outside of the bounds of Patreon (including, but not limited to direct donations, Paypal transactions, or Stipe payments), forgoing the controls and protections Patreon offers to patrons. The followers chose not to do so, ergo, it's clear that they did not intend to contract with Owens directly.


Uh, article lacking some background. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owen_Benjamin

Why? Owen Benjamin may be an antisemitic nutcase (the little I know of him makes me think he is), but that's irrelevant to the legal merits of the case. To go into his background would be a fairly ridiculous example of bothsidesism, especially for a group like "Reclaim the Net," which seems to have an axe to grind against cancel culture, censorship and deplatforming. No one expects BLM to e.g. publish the evidence debunking the "hands up don't shoot" narrative around the killing of Michael Brown, [1] so why should other activists groups be held up to a more stringent standard? If Owen Benjamin's legal rights were violated, he deserves to be made whole (though I admit I'd enjoy him having some egg on his face if one or more people instrumental in securing his legal rights happened to be Jewish).

[1] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/michael-brown-shooting_n_6030...


IMO this is a fundamental problem with American ideals. Antisemitism is straight up illegal here, why should society permit assholes like this to run around and make money encouraging more people to be like them? I'd rather work with a platform that is willing to separate from toxicity.

I'm all for breaking from anti-semitic toxicity.

However, if you look into the history of government censorship in the US, you'll quickly find a lot more concerning things to worry about than merely the violation of ideals.

And then you have what I hope is merely a vocal minority that acts so quickly to cudgel their opponents with political correctness that they'll happily label jews "anti-semites" - despite a clear lack of self loathing - for entirely reasonable disagreements on foriegn policy and other politics. Do you trust that vocal minority to not abuse the courts, given half a chance? I don't.


The question in the case is not whether they are allowed to kick him off. The question is whether each of his Patreon subscribers can bring them to arbitration for interfering in their "business relationship". It's possible that every arbitration case could be found in Patreon's favor, but it will still cost them money.

Anyway I think the article is misleading. This only worked because Patreon's TOS used to allow it. They've since changed the TOS https://nationalfile.com/patreon-loses-lawsuit-with-owen-ben... and this wouldn't apply to any other company unless they had a similar oversight.


> The question in the case is not whether they are allowed to kick him off. The question is whether each of his Patreon subscribers can bring them to arbitration for interfering in their "business relationship". It's possible that every arbitration case could be found in Patreon's favor, but it will still cost them money.

No, not quite. The question as adjudicated is whether a company that mandates a fairly specific arbitration process as a condition of using that company's services can unilaterally change the terms after becoming aware of imminent legal action being taken under those terms, whether significant fees that constitute a liability for the company are "irreparable harm" and then whether the courts or arbitrators are the ones who decide jurisdiction issues.

Anyone can take any legal action they like if they file the paperwork properly and pay the fees, but have no guarantees of success.

Also, I'm not sure Patreon's changes are actually enforceable (though I doubt any sane lawyer would want to test that before prevailing on a tortuous interference claim). Specifically, I doubt Patreon can require consumers to pay legal fees for arbitration beyond what CA law provides. I'm also not sure whether Patreon can carve out this exception to tortious interference actions this way, though a contract could in principle waive certain legal rights like the ability to sue over torts. Regardless, I think it's likely that anyone demanding individual arbitration's in CA could be liable whether or not they erred to the degree Patreon did.


> IMO this is a fundamental problem with American ideals. Antisemitism is straight up illegal here, why should society permit assholes like this to run around and make money encouraging more people to be like them?

You must not be in America, then, since I assure you antisemitism is not illegal in America. When it crosses the line from thoughts or expressions and into acts rather is when it runs afoul of the law/society.

And the point of this case seems to me to be that if a company wants to provide a platform that is separate from toxicity, then it needs to be legally careful or it needs to be willing to pay up if it runs afoul of the law.


Hate speech is a tricky thing to ban; who decides on what exactly constitutes antisemitism (or whatever)? America has traditionally leaned one way, other nations often go the other.

I'd love to ban Nazis and hate speech...but I don't trust many people to decide where that line should be drawn.


Legal issues aside as for all intents and purposes perhaps all legal aspects proceeded as intended -

Seeing as he also spreads misinformation on AIDS and Coronavirus not even being real, one can only hope he suferrs a horrifying fate of both at the same time.


“One can only hope..” You’re using your hope in the wrong place my friend

They're not going to pay 10k per case. They're not going to have legal fees of $20 million. This is all hyperbole and conjecture from someone with a poor track record.

Twitter is reportedly considering integrating a subscription service between members. Their lawyers must be reviewing this case very carefully. It may mean they'll have much less flexibility to restrict accounts with paid subscribers.

Frankly, this will kill the idea of paid subscribers between members. For Twitter to be legally safe, you would only be able to subscribe to Twitter itself, and I'm not sure why anyone would do that?

> For Twitter to be legally safe, you would only be able to subscribe to Twitter itself, and I'm not sure why anyone would do that?

1. The cases are still going to Arbitration. The only victory here, is that Patreon has to abide by its own TOS (at the time of the dispute).

2. It's not clear to me to what extent arbitration creates precedents.

3. In the very worst case, Twitter could just not remove people from its platform. There are all sorts of other things Twitter could do that would have nearly the same effect without the legal risk (e.g. shadowban someone from the rest of twitter except their current subscribers).


Discussion from earlier today:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24009301 (33 comments)


Does this imply that a company wanting to stick with an arbitration clause is better off relocating outside California?

No, the trend is toward courts forcing companies to pay for arbitration if they include arbitration clauses in their customer contacts or ToS. After all, the company was the entity that chose to require arbitration for resolving disputes, and can't later try to get out of it but citing the expense.



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