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Article #239 (376 is last):
>Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.news
From: aj205@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Kevin Steele)
Subject: Developers, Users Sued!
Date: Tue Sep 25 15:48:19 1990


 
 This is a Z*BREAK SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN:
 
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 Z*BREAK #10 - 9/18/90  
 
 
 PUBLISHERS, DEVELOPERS, USERS THREATENED
 WITH LIBEL SUIT BY ATARI ELITE
 
 Z*NET publisher Ron Kovacs, ST children's programs developer
 D.A. Brumleve, and reportedly as many as 31 other persons,
 publishers, and companies in the Atari community have been sent
 letters from ATARI ELITE's attorney, threatening legal action
 for libel.  Atari Elite is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Atari club
 that was named in numbers of allegations of piracy related activity
 affecting the PACE Atari show, held in April '90.  The show had
 the lowest attendance of any nationally promoted Atari show to
 date, and some observers tied both the failure of the show and
 what appeared to them to be widespread open piracy to the Elite
 group.  Many well known persons in the Atari community commented
 or questioned those commenting.  Z*NET and other media covered
 the event with reprints of several messages from both sides of
 the resulting dispute.  Now, those persons and companies are
 being served an ultimatum: present a public admission and apology
 or see the Elite in Court.  Here is an excerpt of a typical
 letter:
 
 -------------------------
  
                     WILLIAM E. SPEAKMAN, JR.
                          AND ASSOCIATES
                         ATTORNEYS AT LAW
                     WASHINGTON TRUST BUILDING
                  WASHINGTON, PENNSYLVANIA 15301
                          (412) 228-4465
  
 September 12, 1990
  
 REGULAR AND CERTIFIED MAIL
  
  
 This office represents The Atari Elite and has been retained to 
 seek redress from you and others for defamatory utterances and 
 writings.
  
 You have apparently disseminated to the general public statements
 which indicate that it is the policy of the Atari Elite and the 
 practice of its members to:
  
 1. Engage in criminal conduct.
  
 2. Consciously and repeatedly violate copyright laws.
  
 3. Disparage other user groups and attempt to sabotage an annual 
    show.
  
 Particularly shocking is the fact that you have little, if any, 
 first hand knowledge of the facts.  Your assertions were 
 evidently based on secondary and tertiary sources.
  
 You actually published unsubstantiated defamatory remarks, 
 obviously without making any effort to verify the veracity of 
 them.
  
 Your actions constitute libel per se which renders them 
 actionable without necessity of showing damages.
  
 I am authorized to inform you that the board of directors of The 
 Atari Elite will consider the matter closed if you issue a public
 apology and admit your accusations of piracy and other misconduct
 were baseless and without foundation in fact.  Should you not 
 make the apology and admission, the board has authorized me to 
 institute suit to seek vindication and damages through the legal 
 process.  If the apology and admission is not made by October 12,
 1990, I will conclude that you do not intend to do it and will 
 proceed accordingly.
  
 The lawsuit, if filed, will name you and others as defendants.
  
 Very truly yours,
  
 William E. Speakman, Jr.
  
 WES:bcm
 cc: The Atari Elite
 
  -----------
 
 Mr. Speakman is not presently available for comment.
 
 It seems to Z*NET that this letter is more of an attempt to
 prevent fair comment than to promote fair investigation.  Ms.
 Brumleve and Z*NET have not as yet formulated their response to
 this threat against free speech and freedom of the press.  We
 encourage all developers or others who may have received similar
 letters from the Elite to contact Ron Kovacs as soon as possible. 
 We have not been given a list of those who are being threatened,
 and we are concerned that the letter may pressure some recipients
 to admit to acts or opinions that may be untrue, perhaps even to
 the detriment of other recipients who wish to preserve their
 legal rights in this matter.
 
 Preliminary reaction at Z*NET has been a decision to suspend any
 further coverage or attendance of any future user group Atari
 show until such time as the legal rights and limits of
 liabilities can be determined.  Z*Net has also received word that
 Atari Corporation is now considering taking a similar stance and
 may cancel their WAACE appearance scheduled for October, pending
 verification of the situation and charges being made.  Atari's
 Bob Brodie attended the PACE show and was one of the many who was
 vocal about the show, and it is not known at this time if Brodie
 or Atari are among those who are to be threatened by ELITE.
 
 Anyone affected by this situation is encouraged to call Ron
 Kovacs immediately in order to help reach a group consensus on
 appropriate action.
 
 Ron Kovacs: (908) 968-2024 (Voice, courteous evening hours and
 weekends Eastern time, please.) BBS: (908) 968-8148 24 hours.
 
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 Z*NET Atari Online Magazine is a weekly publication covering the 
 Atari and related computer community.  Material contained in this
 edition may be reprinted without permission.  Z*Net, Z*Net Atari
 Online and Z*Net News Service are copyright (c)1990,  Rovac
 Industries Incorporated, Post Office Box  59, Middlesex, New
 Jersey 08846-0059.  Voice (908) 968-2024, BBS (908) 968-8148 at
 1200/2400 Baud 24 hours a day.  Compuserve at PPN 71777,2140  ... 
 GEnie at address: Z-Net.
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                   Z*NET Atari Online Magazine
            Copyright (c)1990, Rovac Industries, Inc..
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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