Romance publisher Ellora's Cave has been having financial issues for the past year or so, but rather than sit down and fix them this publisher has decided that the best solution was a public and messy defamation lawsuit.
- Update #1: Here's the latest news on this situation.
- Update #2: Dear Author has started a GoFundMe campaign.
Court documentshave revealed that Ellora's Cave has filed suit against the author and blogger known as Jane Litte, the proprietor of one of the best romance book blogs.
Ellora's Cave alleges that a recent blog post on Dear Author defamed them,
and in addition to suing the publisher also asks for a temporary restraining order - meaning that Dear Author might not be allowed to report that they are being sued.
Dear Author has been writing about Ellora's Cave for many years now (more details here),but according to the filing this lawsuit focuses on just the one post published earlier this month.
In "The Curious Case of Ellora's Cave", Jane detailed the rise and fall of this pioneering erotic romance publisher, including discussing the many current financial issues. For example:
Yet something strange happened. Growth stagnated. In 2010, it was revealed that EC’s revenues were $5 million but a reported $6.7 million in 2006. How on earth was a digital publisher’s income declining in the biggest boom period of digital books? (This was before self publishing took off).
Word of Ms. Engler’s increasingly erratic behavior surfaced on odd places on the internet and then came the lawsuits. In 2008, former employee Christina Brashears filed suit for unpaid monies against EC. EC countersued. Brashears, Publisher and Chief Operating Officer, left and formed Samhain. Bad blood existed which culminated with EC agreeing to a settlement of undisclosed amount. The damages were alleged to be in the high six figures to low seven figures. EC’s behavior during this lawsuit was so egregious, the judge commented on it in his ruling ordering damages to be paid to Brashears. In 2009, EC filed suit against Borders accusing them of illegal business practices. The suit went nowhere.
What’s the result? Many people believe that EC will close its doors before the summer is over but at least by the end of the year. If it enters bankruptcy, author’s intellectual property rights are part of the estate and can be sold off to the highest bidder. It could wind down and revert the rights back but it’s doubtful that will happen.
The lawsuit was only filed today, but Jane has indicated that she will fight this suit. She's looking for a good attorney in the Akron, OH, area with experience in defamation.
While I am not going to make a claim as to whether defamation occurred, I do want to introduce to an acronym which may be new to you: SLAPP.
SLAPP is short for "strategic lawsuit against public participation". This term was coined to describe a certain type of bogus lawsuit which is sometimes used by malevolent individuals to silence their critics. For example, if a publisher wanted to silence a blogger who had been airing said publisher's dirty laundry, they could file a SLAPP.
The cost of defending against a lawsuit can be onerous, leading some to give in. On the other hand, this type of lawsuit can also result in a Streisand effect, attracting even more attention to the story which Ellora's Cave is trying to bury.
What's more, even if this lawsuit doesn't generate even more negative publicity for Ellora's Cave, it will result in the public airing of all of that publisher's dirty laundry during the discovery process. If even half of the rumors going around are true, we could well see many authors suing Ellora's Cave for unpaid royalties.
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