Last Friday, Aubin received notice from a firm representing Drive Thru records which directed us to remove a number of comments from the infamous Midtown interview. Of course, while the claims of libel - if that - did not extend to us under the law, he had to reluctantly remove the offending comments, rather than risk a fight with deep pockets.
We don't like doing this.
Now, we should mention, that while freedom of speech covers factual disclosures, it comes into a grey area when it involves gossip and public figures. Nevertheless, in this specific area Punknews.org was covered by a number of statues, including, but not limited to anti-SLAPP laws that exist specifically in California, where a lawsuit would likely be filed.
That said, the people who made the comments could have been sued, and we could have been required to, at minimum, reveal their IP addresses. Since the law firm asked me to remove those messages, and we did, all traces of the messages are gone: meaning there is no trail back to those people.
Frankly, the reason we're angry is that despite the fact that this website has been a friend to Drive Thru and it's bands, they chose not to contact us in the manner with which one contacts friends, but instead chose to confront us using legal means. While the owners of Drive Thru may have had justifiable concern about the comments, they have to understand two things. Firstly, ignorant and childish comments left anonymously should not be of credible concern to a mature business. Secondly, even the smallest of legal actions would cripple and likely cease the services of this page. It would inflict undue financial burden onto the volunteers who, as a labour of love, put so much time and effort into the site.
When we posted a somewhat inflammatory article about Rich Egan, owner of Vagrant records a few months back, he congratulated us for our integrity and asked that we post his side of the story. That is class, my friends. We will always respect Rich for this, no matter what happens to the label or us in the future.
If Drive Thru chooses not to play by the rules of an independent scene, then the independent scene will turn their back on them. While we nearly made the decision otherwise, we will not outwardly blacklist Drive Thru submissions, be they reviews or news items, because we do not wish ill will on the bands that had no role in this. In protest we are removing the Drive Thru topic, and we will focus our personal efforts on labels that truly want and need our support. We hope some of you can understand our confusion and offense, and will join us on this front.
Scott, Adam and Aubin