So who are Schillings, and why did their attempt to kill a story instead cause it to mushroom? They're not inexperienced in such matters. In fact, besides claiming credit for "Hasselhoff wins apology from OK!", they also boast of past success regarding "The internet attacker". Their sob story begins:
Our client was the founder and CEO of a financial services company. An anonymous source created a website which accused our client of assault, various financial crimes and unethical behaviour.Like most people, lawyers are of course paid to do a job, not paid to be nice, so perhaps it's unreasonable to hope that their response was to ask whether their client was guilty of assult or other "unethical" (not to say illegal) behaviour. Then maybe attempt to put his side of a complicated story, or spin the news agenda a bit? No - Schillings take the lawyer-ish way out and kill the story. As they say:
The internet is not lawless. All the laws that apply to traditional publications apply, plus new regulations have been created. In this instance we:But can you "out" someone and starve them of publicity at the same time? "Hey everyone! Ignore that person! That person we're pointing to over there!"
Once the source was outed and starved of the oxygen of publicity, he quickly settled to avoid a defamation claim.
- applied to Court for a "Spartacus" order requiring the source to identify himself or his ISP and webhost to identify him; and
- contacted the host, ISP and various search engines advising them that even though the allegations had physically been posted in the US they were defamatory under UK law as they could be accessed here;
- search engines and ISPs removed the material.
However, it is worth being reminded that "The internet is not lawless"...
Packets of tumbleweed get switched past... a man appears in a #000000 hat, riding a #000000 horse into the domain. Doors and other portals slam close and Windows are shuttered. The terrified townsfolk cower, peering out between hubs and from behind hyperlinks. Is he threatening wikivandalism? Denial of service? He sure looks mean...
'Not so fast,' says schillings.co.uk, straightening its #FFFFFF hat while cocking its gun. The man under the #000000 hat spins round, his right hand reaching for his perl-scripted revolver, but that's the last thing he ever does. Two shots ring out, the stranger pauses, frowns, then falls to the floor, his server crashing for the last time. No reboot hill for him. Schillings.co.uk mounts its #FFFFFF horse and rides into the peaceful sunset... The inevtiable comedy-drunk staggers out, leading the grateful crowds on to Main Street, shouting "Who was that stranger? He saved us all!" As if in answer, the wind whips a torn sheet of fanfold paper. The bank manager grabs it and reads out loud:
10 PRINT "I am a Spartacus order! No, "
20 GOTO 10