Supporters of P2Pnet have started collecting money to help Jon Newton with his defense against Sharman Networks. So far they got about 400 bucks, and some prominent support as well: Cory Doctorow has promised to donate 100 dollars.

I still have very mixed feelings about this whole affair: It's unfortunate Sharman is unleashing the lawyers against Jon. But it's bordering the grotesque to paint the whole thing as a freedom of the press issue hat might influece the future of online media in Canada and beyond.
Let's step back and review the facts for a second: Some anonymous visitor publishes money laundering allegations against Sharman Networks and Nikki Hemking in the comment section of P2PNet. Jon picks up on this rather lengthy comment and publishes it in another story, without any warning that these are unproven and potentially inaccurate rumours. It doesn't look like he asked Sharman for their side of the story either.

Now the whole affair starts to get a little murky. Cory Doctorow essentially says Sharman should have corrected the story instead of suing P2Pnet. In his words: "If allegation is false, correct it. This kind of libel suit is the last refuge of the coward, for people who don't believe that the answer to bad speech is more speech."

Unfortunately it looks like they tried to do just that. Sharman says they tried to contact Jon twice before launching the lawsuit, each time asking him to remove the content in question ( Jon pretty much acknowledges this, but insists on the fact that these requests didn't reach him in time and weren't filed in a proper manner: "You and she both know you filed this suit before I received notice of her concerns. Despite your clear statement to the contrary, you provided no 'formal' notice of your client's concerns. You didn't send a registered letter or courier your demand letter ..."

There is some irony in the fact that Jon regards some anonymous web comment with pretty harsh allegations trustworthy enough to republish it within one of his stories, but insists on registered letters when it comes to correcting these allegations. But here is too much at stake here for everyone involved to joke around. Which is why I sincerely hope that this whole matter wil be settled soon, so that Jon can go back to work and do what he is best at. Being a martyr is clearly not it.
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