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Don’t hang Vlad Zablotskyy out to dry: Making a donation to his legal defense fund is what matters most right now

Here’s what doesn’t matter:

Here’s what matters:

Of the money Vlad Zablotskyy has had to spend so far on legal fees, three-fourths of every dollar has come out of his own pocket.

It doesn’t matter who says what about whom. It doesn’t matter if this issue draws more attention up the food chain. It doesn’t matter if people write posts or post the donation button.

But it does matter if you hang Vlad Zablotskyy out to dry.

I don’t know if the cause is cowardliness or cliquishness or simply cluelessness, but I have been all but completely dismayed by the response of the RE.net to this vicious attack on one of our own. A few principled people stepped up to the plate right away — last week, but also in the months leading up to last week. A far greater number have ignored the issue, with the result that Vlad has found more vocal champions outside the real estate weblogging world.

How sad for us that Vlad is willing to stand as a martyr for our right to speak as we choose, and we can’t even be bothered to make a donation in his defense — much less stand up on our own two legs and cry havoc — not even when we’re offered choice bribes for doing so!

We’re alone right now, you and I, just words on phosphors silently invading your mind. I don’t care if you’re a coward, or if you’re clique-ridden or clueless. It suits me fine to think that you’ve been distracted, and you’ve been meaning all week to make a donation. That’s perfectly wonderful. Make it now.


Support Vlad Zablotskyy’s Defense Fund
Defend your own right to free speech!

Why? Because that’s what matters most right now.

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Related posts:
  • A premium appeal for Vlad Zablotskyy: If you’ll give $200 to his defense fund, we’ll give you a set of BloodhoundBlog Unchained DVDs
  • Once more unto the breach for Vlad — and for your right to free speech
  • Support the Vlad Zablotskyy Legal Defense Fund: A real estate weblogger is being throttled by corporate bully ePerks.com. The free speech rights you will be fighting for are your own

  • 36 comments

    36 Comments so far

    1. Bruce Hahn June 15th, 2008 6:17 am

      We agree and will be making a donation. Its impossible to know, viewed from a distance, whether there is any merit to the charges, or whether this is just another “SLAPP” case (strategic lawsuit against public participation) that is intended to silence critics.

      What is most important is that free speech on real estate issues, which affect consumers as well as those in the business, be preserved. There is already too much discrimination by the corporate suits against small real estate service companies with different business models, and against consumers. The judge can sort out who’s right, but the little guys need the resources to defend themselves when they believe they are in the right.

    2. Teri L June 15th, 2008 6:47 am

      >Vlad has found more vocal champions outside the real estate weblogging world.

      That’s truly upsetting. And bullshit. I don’t get on a soapbox often, but time to ruffle some feathers…

    3. Mike Farmer June 15th, 2008 7:19 am

      I’m not a coward and I don’t belong to any cliques, but as for being clueless, well that’s debatable.

      I’m slow to jump on these types of causes until I fully understand the issue.

      I donated, but you might want to be careful suggesting that people are unprincipled, cowardly, cliqueish or clueless just because they haven’t donated according to you timeframe.

      Just a suggestion.

    4. Greg Swann June 15th, 2008 7:35 am

      > you might want to be careful suggesting that people are unprincipled, cowardly, cliqueish or clueless just because they haven’t donated according to you timeframe.

      Presumptuousness is one of the things I’m best at. My darts weren’t aimed at you, but you have my apologies anyway. Thanks for your donation — and thanks to the other folks who made donations in the night.

    5. Greg Swann June 15th, 2008 7:42 am

      > Its impossible to know, viewed from a distance, whether there is any merit to the charges, or whether this is just another “SLAPP” case (strategic lawsuit against public participation) that is intended to silence critics.

      The wonderful thing about people picking fights in our world is that everything is available for independent review. Trace Richardson has put together a very thoroughgoing overview of the complaint.

      The issue for all of us, and why each one of us needs to do what we can, is that we need to establish for the entire mainstream world — not just out-of-control bully-boys like Ben Behrouzi — that we will not be pushed around. Ordinary people have a voice in the agora that they have never had before. They will not keep it if they are not willing to defend it from these kinds of challenges.

    6. Barry Cunningham June 15th, 2008 8:39 am

      Wow..Mike Farmer and I agree for the second time!

      I don’t think any of us have ALL of the facts. I for one am tired of hearing people waving the flag of free speech around when this is not about free speech.

      I have one question. Even if Vlad prevails, does anybody think for a moment that it stops the next lawsuit against a blogger? No, it does not.

      Free Speech doe snot give anybody the right to say anything they want. Some bloggers absolutely do need to put a sock in it sometimes.

      That being said, IF..and I mean IF the lawsuit is frivolous and found to be without foundation then it is a shame that Vlad is having to deal with this crap.

      I would just be careful in what bloggers say and do and maybe this will serve as a wake-up call for those who feel they can write with complete impunity.

      Here’s a bit from the 2 cents in my pocket, instead of this being the Vlad Legal Defense Fund, why not rename it the Blogger Legal Defense Fund. That way it can be an ongoing defense fund for any blogger who faces a goliath down the road.

      As I doubt this is the last lawsuit we will see against a blogger…maybe not even the last lawsuit eperks wages against a blogger.

      Wow..imagine, a whole other niche for lawyers. I can see the late night commercials now..”Have you been defamed on a blog, do you think you have been defamed on a blog..well if so cal us, Shapiro, Black, Smith and Wells and well take your case and get you the money you deserve.

      Far fetched? We’ll see.

      Vlad, good luck and hope it works out for you.

    7. Greg Swann June 15th, 2008 8:56 am

      > this is not about free speech.

      False. This is about nothing but Ben Behrouzi’s foolish attempt to bully Vlad Zablotskyy into silence. The purpose of this bogus lawsuit is intimidation — and not just of Vlad.

      > Even if Vlad prevails, does anybody think for a moment that it stops the next lawsuit against a blogger?

      Absolutely yes. Behrouzi’s willingness to destroy his company in a fit of ill temper will serve as a potent example to other wannabe bullies. Webloggers are equal players in the marketplace of ideas. This imbroglio will demonstrate, at least within the real estate industry, the practical consequences of trying to push innocent people around.

      > Some bloggers absolutely do need to put a sock in it sometimes.

      To add even a single word is to diminish the sheer perfection of this observation. ;)

      > instead of this being the Vlad Legal Defense Fund, why not rename it the Blogger Legal Defense Fund

      I’ve thought about this. It would be better as an endowed fund. Sufficient unto the day.

    8. Mike Farmer June 15th, 2008 9:06 am

      Barry, we need to quit agreeing like this, people will start to think I’m part of your demographics.

      Greg, no problem — I knew you didn’t mean me personally. It’s just as a reader it seemed like a blanket.

    9. Teri L June 15th, 2008 9:45 am

      >Some bloggers absolutely do need to put a sock in it sometimes.

      Seriously? Like who? And who gets to decide? And what means should be used to decide? How ’bout we bring a lawsuit against any blogger that we think should put a sock in it. Shut ‘em down, boys. Thar’s a new sheriff in town…

    10. Greg Swann June 15th, 2008 9:49 am

      > And who gets to decide?

      Indeed.

      Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

      Freely: And who, precisely, should we trust to police the police?

      Juvenal is good reading for any age.

    11. Barry Cunningham June 15th, 2008 10:41 am

      Hey Teri,

      I won’t be the one doing the policing. I have’nt the time. How about self-policing…there’s a novel concept.

      Here’s the point. Before hitting the submit button think to one’s self. “Could this open me up to a lawsuit and if it does am I prepared for that?”

      If that one simple thought went through the mindset of bloggers BEFORE hitting the submit button then I think a lot less problems would occur.

      No need for big brother. Just a modicum of thought BEFORE posting could really be preventitive medicine. It’s definitely less costly.

    12. Don Reedy June 15th, 2008 10:56 am

      Barry,

      When someone is being attacked, you “take flight or fight.” That’s a reaction as old as man himself. By defending Vlad now, helping him when he needs help, we are neither vindicating his blog, nor adjudicating the merits of the suit. What we are doing, however, is taking a measured step forward, challenging the bully to show his stuff, or back the heck off.

      You could be next. Shall we wait until your funds are exhausted, your nerves rattled, and the truth is ratified? No, I think you’d want you colleagues and friends to saddle up and ride along with you right from the beginning.

      It’s easy to be jaded when you see conflict on the tube or read it on the web, especially in your position (where you are truly networking, communicating and being where the action is on a minute by minute basis). But Vlad is really bleeding metaphorically, and wishing his wound will heal on its own is just not good medicine now.

      EPerks and Vlad’s dispute will find an ending. For today, it is the principle of free speech that we defend, nothing less. The defense of this principle never finds respite, but continues to exist fight to fight, with freedom itself at risk should we run from just one encounter.

      I have followed you for some time. You are a man of courage and certain conviction. Support Vlad now on the principle that you posit he speaks the truth. Support Vlad no on the principle that his speech is protected. Support that which you so aptly promulgate every day.

      Thanks!

    13. Barry Cunningham June 15th, 2008 11:09 am

      Don you said “You could be next”…So what?

      In fact our little foray into the legal system was over a year ago. I received a cease and desist order, I forwarded it to my attorney who was ALREADY on retainer. I never thought about it again and it was over before it began.

      Here’s why. I have been talking about this for what seems like forever. Most realtors do not operate like a business. Instead of all the clamoring, how about just set yourself up like a normal business.

      1. Create the LLC
      2. Move Ownership of the Blog into an LLC
      3. Obtain liability insurance.

      Businesses get sued everyday. It’s a part of doing business. If one is not prepared to do business don’t get involved in business…i.e. blogging.

      I am not the least worried about lawsuits. I have an attorney, he gets paid to do what he does, and if someone comes knocking he is alerted.

      I just don’t see this as a free speech issue. You can’t openly say whatever you want, whenever you want to whomeever you want without fear of retribution..it just does not work that way.

      Does Vlad have a right to his “opinion”..absolutely. But it must be tempered accordingly.

      A while back I wrote a post that riled the NAR. Their attorney called me and said their client (the NAR) was upset with what I wrote…I told him to contact my attorney if he had any questions and to get back to me if he wanted any further clarification.

      He never called my attorney and the matter went away.

      I EXPECT to receive such calls and such letters and I have myself protected in advance of such.

      Perhaps most blogger should do the same.

      I have asked Vlad to come on our show. I, like others, want more information on this. I don’t want to see anyone harmed for no reason.

      That is truly not something I agree with at all. I would just need to ascertain completely what is going on.

    14. Teri L June 15th, 2008 2:14 pm

      >How about self-policing…

      Agreed!
      Let’s shake on that. :-D

    15. Cheryl Johnson June 15th, 2008 3:57 pm

      @Teri – As said before, Somedays, Soundlessness is Overrated.

      @Barry – Interesting idea, moving blog ownership to LLC, I hadn’t thought of that.

    16. Chris Johnson June 16th, 2008 8:18 am

      Part of the appeal of blogs is that the content isn’t so sanitized. The thing that we’re trying to defend is this.

      What is the estimate of Vlad’s need?

    17. Jay Thompson June 16th, 2008 9:40 am

      “I don’t care if you’re a coward, or if you’re clique-ridden or clueless.”

      Maybe it’s none of the above. Maybe a lot of folks simply don’t have the spare coin right now.

      Calling people cowards, clique-ridden and clueless may not be the best way to appeal to people. It might in fact sort of turn them off.

      I agree completely that what Behrouzi and eJerks are trying to pull is a slap in the face to all of us. And money is probably what Vlad needs most. But there are other ways to fight this mess and voice support (and I agree that has been woefully lacking). I have to think that what some (albeit not many) are saying can help raise awareness, and that could potentially raise more money. Is it not possible that linking to the defense fund (which I’ve done, more than once) may just help spread the word, hence increase donations?

      For what it’s worth, (and that’s probably not much) I just think you might get a better response on the defense fund if the name-calling was avoided.

    18. Greg Swann June 16th, 2008 10:40 am

      > I just think you might get a better response on the defense fund if the name-calling was avoided.

      Actually this post pulled much better than the first one. The Defense Fund is within striking distance of covering everything that Vlad has had to pay so far. Bless the folks who dug deep this weekend, particularly Pat and Wayne Harriman, who dug deep two weeks in a row. That much is great.

      This much is not: Not one red cent has come out of the head-up-its-community clique. For example, from this list of 127 speakers bound for Inman Connect, only Mike Simonsen has made a donation. Not all of those people are real estate webloggers, but a bunch of them are. Are they too cowardly to take on vendors? Are they too cliquish to stand up for principle? Are the too clueless to identify their own long-term self-interest? Are they pre-occupied? Broke? Bored? Doesn’t matter. They don’t matter. The only thing worth fighting for is principle, and if they won’t fight for principle, they’re just taking up space.

      Inlookers: Scroll up and push the “Donate” button. Vlad’s attorney is hoping to make this thing go away fast and cheap — where cheap is a breathtaking sum of money. But what if that doesn’t work? I know money is tight — believe me, I know. Do what you can, and if you can do more, please do. We have a right to this space we have claimed in the marketplace of ideas, but we will not keep it if we will not defend it. The best defense you can make for your own right to speak is to help Vlad Zablotskyy defend his right to speak freely.

    19. Jay Thompson June 16th, 2008 11:11 am

      OK, so I’m wrong. Calling people names is clearly more effective. Whatever works I suppose. Hey if you can guilt more people into donating, more power to you. As long as Vlad gets the money, I guess how he gets it doesn’t matter.

      For the record, not that it is anyone’s business, I’m sending in a donation as well, so you can update your list of Inman speakers that are contributing. There are ways to do it without using the fund you set up. Nothing against your fund, in fact I think it’s a grand gesture and commendable. Thanks for setting it up, and I mean that sincerely.

      Greg, I’ve never been “too cowardly to take on vendors”. I wrote a fairly scathing post on ePerks that you yourself thanked me for (and thank you for commenting). I don’t think I’m too clueless to identify my own long-term self-interest. If you think I have my head up some clique, so what, think what you will, I could care less what your opinion is of me.

      The simple fact is, you have no idea what, or if I have donated. I’m telling you I will. You can choose to believe that or not, doesn’t matter to me.

    20. Greg Swann June 16th, 2008 11:19 am

      > The simple fact is, you have no idea what, or if I have donated.

      Untrue. I checked last night, on the chance that someone might have sent money to Vlad directly. One ad contract for Vlad’s blog, that was it. I wasn’t thinking of you specifically, I just wanted to correct any defects in my knowledge.

      > I’m telling you I will.

      Good for you. Thanks.

    21. Barry Cunningham June 16th, 2008 1:00 pm

      In the vein of transparency why not post who donated, how much has been donated, where it’s going…etc

      Might make some feel more comfortable and may provide an incentive for more to act. ust a thought.

    22. Greg Swann June 16th, 2008 1:12 pm

      > In the vein of transparency why not post who donated, how much has been donated, where it’s going…etc

      That’s a good idea. It will have to wait for Mrs. Spreadsheet to get home, but we can put something together later today. Maybe I’ll do it in PHP to make it easier to keep current.

    23. Teri Lussier June 16th, 2008 1:54 pm

      >why not post who donated, how much has been donated, where it’s going…etc

      I vote eek.

      To give to any cause is a personal, and I would hope, a private decision. If I had known this was going public, I would have found an anon way to donate.

      It’s your fund I suppose, do what you want, but I will be very careful about donating through here in the future.

      In the vein of transparency- it should be a choice to be transparent or not be transparent. Forced transparency is hardly transparency.

      My 2 cents, fwiw.

    24. Greg Swann June 16th, 2008 2:02 pm

      > To give to any cause is a personal, and I would hope, a private decision.

      You win. I live in the INTx world. I never think in terms of privacy. Very much the opposite, as you and I have discussed.

      In any case, I now have software that reports and totes — but won’t.

      Here’s the total so far: $1,705.

      A good start, but Vlad could end up needing a lot more.

    25. Teri Lussier June 16th, 2008 2:13 pm

      Thank you, Greg.

      I suppose I should have added that I do think publishing a total, like you just did, is a very wise idea, and having a place to put any leftover funds (just thinking positively) is smart as well.

    26. Greg Swann June 16th, 2008 2:16 pm

      > having a place to put any leftover funds (just thinking positively) is smart as well.

      Good thinking. One of the many things Mrs. Spreadsheet knows about is foundations. I’ll see what we need to do.

    27. Greg Swann June 16th, 2008 5:34 pm

      > Here’s the total so far: $1,705.

      Scratch that. $1,930.

    28. Mark Madsen June 17th, 2008 3:02 pm

      Someone threatens to sue us every week. I hate it.

      Good luck and let me know how we can help.

      mm

    29. Greg Swann June 17th, 2008 3:16 pm

      > Good luck and let me know how we can help.

      Thanks for everything you’ve done so far, Mark.

    30. Cheryl Johnson June 19th, 2008 6:51 am

      A random thought this AM. The real estate community is all over this.

      But: The situation started with a paid review. Paid reviews are a popular way to monetize blogs in the internet marketing world.

      Is Vlad’s story making the rounds in the internet marketing community? Seems those guys would have a stake in the outcome, too.

    31. Greg Swann June 19th, 2008 7:10 am

      > Is Vlad’s story making the rounds in the internet marketing community? Seems those guys would have a stake in the outcome, too.

      Not to my knowledge. Other may know more than I do.

    32. Andy Beard June 20th, 2008 11:46 pm

      People know about the situation in the Internet Marketing community, and I also created a “Spark” – a free blog posting opportunity within Social Spark, one of the paid blogging services run by Izea, who are most widely known for their PayPerPost service.

      I don’t know the contributions balance from various segments of the blogosphere. I would have hoped Vlad would receive some help from the affiliate marketing community as well, which is another segment again.

    33. [...] at the Bloodhound Real Estate Blog has been updating on contributions to the legal fund so far – on 16th June is was less than [...]

    34. The Harriman Team June 29th, 2008 10:46 am

      A new shot fired in the fray:

      http://eperks.wordpress.com

      Who is this “Michael K.” guy? Can someone in California find out if he’s really an RE broker in SoCal?? If he is, he makes me ashamed to be in the same profession as him. This whole thing is really starting to p*** me off, let me tell you. His post screams for a response other than Mary McKnight’s. If I can get my BP under 180/120, I just might…

    35. [...] this seems to be getting a groundswell of support. High profile places like Bloodhound and Wanna Network’s real estate networking site have even picked it up. Bloodhoundblog has [...]

    36. [...] at the Bloodhound Real Estate Blog has been updating on contributions to the legal fund so far – on 16th June is was less than [...]