I never actually thought I would be posting an additional part to this series. After Part X was published, I briefly collected information posted in the comment sections of all the Software Saga articles. Eventually I got tired of keeping track of it all and let it fall by the wayside, never planning to post a Part XI, as it would be.
Though it may seem that I had forgotten about this series of articles, I would like to make one thing very clear: I greatly appreciate the readers who have contributed information about this person’s activities. Without you, his actions would never have received widespread acknowledgement. Thank you.
From: Aztec_God_Support <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: From Michael
Date: Sat, 7 Aug 2010 21:06:00 -0500
Remove this false information from your site. You will be hearing from my attorney.
(disparaging comment about ex-wife removed). You remove this blog or legal action will be taken.
This is not me and I stumbled upon this site by accident. Remove it or else.
This is a felony badgering someone that is innocent.
I would attempt to reply to this message in a witty, sarcastic, and/or humorous way, but I am simply not as funny as Leonard J. Crabs. Therefore, the rest of this post will consist of a sort of open letter to Mr. Hardy, but not one that I plan on sending to him personally.
Dear Michael Hardy,
I take issue with your claim that I am badgering you (I am ignoring the claim of innocence for the time being). I don’t believe that any sort of harassment has occurred on my part. I have never even attempted to contact you—not through e-mail, web forums, comment boxes, or anything similar. I have only made statements about you in articles published here, on my weblog. No doubt you have been contacted by other people (who are not me), but I can assure you that we have no connection, apart from them being readers of this website. I have never told anyone to contact you; anyone who has done so has gone out of their way to find your contact information.
You state that “This is not me”. I must ask, who is not you? Are you not Michael Hardy? Or is someone impersonating you, claiming to be creating all of this software to give you a bad name? If so, what are some examples of your legitimate work (that is, do you have a legitimate reputation that could conceivably become tarnished)?
You also state that you “stumbled upon this site by accident”. Yet as I outlined in Part X, you posted an inflammatory comment on my site five years ago, shortly after the original series concluded. Perhaps you forgot about this site in the five years that have since passed. If you have bad memory, that is really no concern of mine.
In addition, all the pieces of the puzzle fit together as to your identity. When you tried to spread false information about your death, posting under the name “Brian Mitchell” in the comments for Part I, you used an e-mail address containing the name “Microworks Games Studio”, one of the many names you have used for your operations. You sent the above e-mail from an address containing the words “Aztec God Game”, one of the many games you have appropriated for your own use. The original was made by “mauge” and is posted on YoYo Games and available to download for free. Your incarnation, the website of which I will not extend the courtesy of linking to, costs $25 for the full version, and makes absolutely no mention of the original creator. Finally, the IP address(es) you’ve used to make comments here, in addition to the e-mail you sent, all point to a user of Fidelity Communications (in 2005) or Charter Communications (in 2010), both in Missouri, which matches up to the physical address(es) you have provided in your domain name(s) WHOIS information.
I do not know why you would make such comments about your ex-wife; even if they were true, I question your judgment in making such statements to other people.
I will mention that your spelling and grammar seem to have improved remarkably over the past five years. Your message is by no means a piece of literary artwork, but is indeed perfectly legible.
Internet legal threats are a dime a dozen, and about 99% of them have absolutely no merit. Happily, yours is one included in that 99%. You seem to think that making vague threats in every single paragraph of your e-mail will frighten me into submission, causing me to remove all of the information I have posted about you. That will not be the case. On the contrary, it ensures that I will make this information freely available to as many people as possible, for as long as possible.
Mr. Hardy seems to think what I am doing is either some sort of tort or a felony; I can’t figure out which. He probably means libel (a form of defamation), but never states that outright. As I explained in Part X (forgive me for quoting myself), truth is the ultimate defense against libel:
I have not broken any U.S. laws, nor have I made any libelous statements towards you or your alter ego. I have presented the facts of the case, as well as made some backup statements of opinion, but have not outright insulted your character. This series was not created out of malice, but to expose the truth.
Furthermore, the statute of limitations for defamation is two years in both Missouri (his residence) and Indiana (my residence), and no U.S. state has a statute of limitations longer than three years. This rules out my original series of articles—the last one was posted almost five years ago. As for the continued availability of web content consisting of continual “republishing”, according to the Electronic Freedom Foundation, “Most courts have rejected claims that publishing online amounts to ‘continuous’ publication, and start the statute of limitations ticking when the claimed defamation was first published.”
Additionally, I cannot be held responsible for comments made by users posting to the comment sections of this weblog. This is stated in Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code: “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.” I am indeed a “provider” of an “interactive computer service” because I allow people to post comments, their own words, thoughts, and opinions, on my articles. If you wish to pursue actions against the commenters, you will have to get their contact information… which I will not provide to you unless required by a court order.
As for the accusation of what I am doing is a felony or crime, only 17 states have criminal laws against defamation of some sort, and there is no federal law regarding defamation. I do realize that defamation is generally considered a civil matter, but as I outlined above, I insist that none of what I have posted about this whole ordeal is defamatory.
So whether your name is Michael Hardy, Hardy Spirit, Michael Brewer, or Brian Mitchell, I hope your attorney, if you really have one, knows what he’s doing. Thank you, and have a good day.