In Which I’m Threatened With “Legal Action” by Alice Hutchison for Something I Didn’t Even Write

Back in October, a commenter by the name of Daniel Dagan posted a comment here pointing to textual similarities between Alice Hutchison’s Kenneth Anger and a thesis written by Miriam Dagan. While catching up on my email backlog, I received the following email from Alice Hutchison:

To Edward Champion / host of edrants.com,

It has come to my attention that your website has posted damaging and incorrect information about me as an author and my book on Kenneth Anger as solicited to you by a Mr Dagan of Berlin, whose accusations have proven to be fictitious, ie source material from authors who are duly credited.
http://www.edrants.com/?p=4023
I strongly urge you to remove it at your earliest convenience to avoid legal action against you. If the reference to me and the book are not removed by the end of the week, you will be hearing from my lawyers in Los Angeles.

Thank-you in advance,

Alice L Hutchison

* * *

First off, “my website” did not post the comment. I did not author the comment. It came from a gentleman by the name of Daniel Dagan, who also left his contact information for any aggrieved parties.

Since my computer has been out of commission and I have a considerable email backlog, I only just got this email today (it was sent on January 16) and, as of yet, I haven’t heard anything from “lawyers in Los Angeles.” Furthermore, since Ms. Hutchison has failed to describe how Mr. Dagan’s claims are “damaging and incorrect,” I will leave Mr. Dagan’s comment unaltered, unless Ms. Hutchison and her “lawyers” can provide persuasive evidence to the contrary.

And since I’ve been threatened with legal action for something I didn’t even write, without Ms. Hutchison presenting a specific example (much less a specific statute that I violated), I’m less inclined to cooperate with someone who offers empty legal threats without a burden of proof.

Thus, until Ms. Hutchison demonstrates with clear examples why Mr. Dagan is wrong (or Mr. Dagan requests that I remove his comment), I’ll allow Mr. Dagan’s comment to stand unaltered.

Further, I find it immensely ironic that someone who has authored a book on the man who wrote Hollywood Babylon, which was infinitely more risque than anything contained within Mr. Dagan’s remarks, would send such an email.

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10 Comments

  1. 47 USC § 230 (the section of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 which, among other things, deals with online defamation) says: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

    Under most caselaw, a reader’s comments would most likely be considered information provided by another content provider, and so you would not be held liable for defamatory statements contained in it. Courts have held that Section 230 prevents you from being held liable even if you edit the material you publish.

    Ms. Hutchinson’s true cause of action, if there is one, almost definitely lies against Mr. Dagan.

  2. For cases on point, see Batzel v. Smith, 333 F.3d 1018 (9th Cir. 2002), Green v. AOL, 318 F.3d 465 (3rd Cir. 2003), and DiMeo v. Max, No. 06-1544 (E.D. Pa. May 26, 2006).

    In the last case, blogger Tucker Max was sued for defamation by Anthony DiMeo III for comments about him written not by Max, but by others on tuckermax.com.

    The district court found that Section 230 immunized defendants from being treated as a publisher of information by others for liability purposes, as long as three statutory elements are satisfied:

    First, the defendant must be a provider or user of an interactive computer service.

    Second, plaintiff’s claims must treat the defendant as a publisher or speaker of the defamatory information.

    Finally, the challenged communication must be “information provided by another content provider.”

    The court found all the elements were satisfied, and as to the last element, the commenters were considered “another information content provider” even though Max had the ability to alter, edit and delete the content and though Max’s website did publish the content.

    Dagan’s comments on your site would undoubtedly not make you liable, leaving aside the whole matter of whether Hutchinson is a public figure and the “actual malice” standard would apply.

  3. Dear Editor,

    I am writing to draw your attention to the fact that Black Dog Publishing and Ms Alice Hutchison plagiarized text verbatim not only from the thesis of the German student Ms Miriam Dagan, as convincingly documented and explained in previous contributions appearing in your web-site.

    In the very same book (ISBN: 1-904772-03-X) , the very same offenders – i.e. Black Dog Publishing and Ms Alice Hutchison – also plagiarized text verbatim also from the well-known American author Ms Carel Rowe.

    Here is the information:

    The passage of ten lines on page 176 of the book in question (ISBN: 1-904772-03-X) , that begins “The cosmology of” and ends “Horus as well.” is copied verbatim from page 17 of Carel Rowe’s essay in “Moonchild: The Films of Kenneth Anger”, edited by Jack Hunter (Creation Books, 2002).

    This is the original text of author Carel Rowe in her article (Moonchild page 17):

    “The Cosmology of his Book of the Law introduces this third Aeon: after Isis’ aeon of matriarchy and Osiris’ aeon of patriarchy follows the aeon of Horus, the Child or true self independent of priests or gods. In his 777 Book of Correspondences, Crowley cross indexes Greek, Egyptian, and Hindu mythologies, Venus is found in Isis and corresponding goddesses. Lucifer is the Roman name for the planet Venus which was worshipped both as Aurora (the morning star) and Vesper (the eveing star). Until these myths were suppressed by the Catholic Church the Gnostics worshipped Aurora/Lucifer as the Herald of the Dawn, the light preceding the sun. The Crowleyan/Anger doctrine exchanges Lucifer with Horus as well:”

    This is the plagiarized text taken from Carel Rowe’s work, as it appears on page 176 (middle paragraph) of the book of Black Dog Publishing and Alice Hutchison (ISBN: 1-904772-03-X) :

    “The cosmology of Crowley’s Book of the Law introduces a third Aeon, the Age of Horus (Aquarian Age), which follows after Isis’ aeon of matriarchy and Osiris’ aeon of patriarchy (and christianity). In Crowley’s 777-Book of Correspondences, he cross-indexes Greek, Egyptian, and Hindu mythologies. Venus is found in Isis and corresponding goddesses. Lucifer is the Roman name for the planet Venus which was worshipped both as the morning star and Vesper (the evening star). Until these myths were suppressed by the Catholic Church, the Gnostics worshipped Aurora/Lucifer as the Herald of the Dawn, the light preceding the sun. The Crowley/Anger doctrine exchanges Lucifer with Horus as well.”

    Dear editor,

    I would be glad to send you (and to any interested reader) all the information proving both offences of plagiarism committed by Black Dog Publishing of the UK. Specifically I can send you this:

    1) An attachment with a comparative chart showing the exact passages of text copied verbatim from the thesis of Ms Miriam Dagan, as well as an electronic version of her complete thesis.

    2) An attachment with the page of Carel Rowe’s article from which Black Dog Publishing copied the above text verbatim.

    The copying without attribution from Ms Carel Rowe highlights that in the above mentioned book (ISBN: 1-904772-03-X) Black Dog Publishing of the UK has been using text verbatim not just from one author. Rather, this fresh example underlines the fact that Black Dog Publishing has adopted a pattern of an irresponsible, shamefull and appalling plagiarism.

    Thank you for your attention. I believe it’s high time that Black Dog Publishing accept liability for both cases of flagrant plagiarism. In the meantime I am asking your readers to send notes of protest to the offender, Black Dog Publishing of the UK, and to urge its leaders to shoulder responsibilty for the ongoing abuse of both authors – Ms Miriam Dagan AND Ms Carel Rowe.

    Sincerely,

    Daniel Dagan
    Wilhelmstr. 90
    10117 Berlin
    Germany

    Tel. +49 – 30 – 22 62 06 50

    Email address: Daniel.Dagan@surf-club.de

  4. I am used to being ripped off. But this is bizarre — now somebody
    is claiming to being ripped off who ripped me off in the first (and second?) place.

    Most of my copywritten work on Anger is either in Film Quarterly 1975 and/or publication of my book, “The Baudelairean Cinema,” which was grabbed and published by Michigan Press before being seized by Xerox series denied royalties in digital copy.
    I get nothing but the vampires are continuingly stealing my original words,each one from each other. Let Anger have em.

    It would be nice to be paid for my printed work.

  5. Dear Carel Rowe,

    As you can see in the information posted above,
    ten lines from your essay in this book

    “Moonchild: The Films of Kenneth Anger”,
    edited by Jack Hunter (Creation Books,
    2002, ISBN: 1-84068-029-6)

    have been copied verbatim without attribution into this book

    ISBN: 1-904772-03-X of Black Dog Publishing of the UK.

    Exactly as other victims of plagiarism in this book ISBN: 1-904772-03-X
    you obviously have the right to demand that the publisher insert an erratum slip in unsold copies of the book with the plagiarized passages, making reference to text which was copied verbatim without attribution. It goes without saying that Black Dog Publishing of the UK must accept liability for infringement of your copyright and must provide a remedy, which would include covering all of your legal costs (if you have any).

    For a remedy – and hopefully for a speedy, amicable resolution – you may want to approach the UK publisher directly. Here is the address:

    Black Dog Publishing
    Unit 4.04 Tea Building
    56 Shoreditch High Street
    London
    E1 6JJ
    UK
    T +44 (0) 20 7613 1922
    F +44 (0) 20 7613 1944

    General Enquiries:

    info@blackdogonline.com

    Sincerely,

    Corinna Koch

  6. Regardless, Mr. Dagan should perhaps stop posting these accusations against Ms. Hutchison on various websites, since the issue has nothing directly to do with him, and it’s not his place to decide who is right or wrong in the case.

  7. I’m reading through her book now and I have noticed many textual similarities between Sheldon Renan’s “An Introduction to the American Underground Film” and Juan Suarez’s essay “Pop, Queer, or Fascist? The Ambiguity of Mass Culture in Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising.” I checked the back of Hutchison’s book and there are no references made to the authors despite the textual similarities. Since I am working on my own essay right now, I will not list exactly where/how she copies; however, the plagiarism is blatantly obvious.

  8. From Amazon.com:
    “Publication Date: December 6, 2011
    “The long-awaited paperback reissue of the previously censored Kenneth Anger.”

    Censored?!

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