The Abe Olandres Legal Fund

Filed as News on February 12, 2007 3:11 pm

A few days ago, our (then) editor Abe Olandres announced that he was passing on the helm of the Blog Herald to Tony Hung. They have thus switched places, with Tony as the new editor and Abe as assistant editor. Abe cited family and legal problems that were preventing him from giving more attention to the Herald.

My recent personal issues/problems have slowed me down tremendously. A death in the family, legal troubles and more- all have piled up on me so quickly that I have been barely able to focus on my work. So I am glad that Tony accepted this role willingly and on such short notice. I will still be around, sometimes writing, but more on the back-end of things and I will continue to help Tony run the site.

Abe has given a few details about his legal concerns, and frankly, it reeks of harassment. Abe is being bled dry of his financial resources, due to mounting costs of legal defense.

I guess we can discuss about that ridiculous law suit here as I can’t understand how it got blown out of proportion.

I run a fairly small start-up web hosting here in the Philippines. One of our former clients runs a forum that we used to host. Several members of that forum were throwing vindictives against a their former employer. That employer sent us a demand letter thru their law firm demanding that we terminate the site or be charged with libel as well. The client moved out from us the following day. However, the employer/complainant has now filed several libel law suits against us claiming that we are the owner of the domain and the operator of the site. The site is still up and running though hosted somewhere else, the domain was also transferred away from us. Still, the complainant is alleging we should have enforced some sort of regulations or control over the content when it was still with us.

Apparently, all they wanted is money and this case is just of one of their many business gigs.

In other words, Abe is being held liable for allegedly libelous content that he neither produced, nor owned, but just hosted. It’s something that is outside of his reasonable control. Mark Saunders even stressed that while it’s not about blogs per se, still “we’re all in the same boat on this in a way, i.e: it could happen to any of us who publish, host, comment, etc.,” hence all the more reason for bloggers to worry. After all, we can be indiscriminately sued, for instance, for comments anonymously posted on our blogs. It has happened. And it could happen again. And I think you would agree that whether one wins or loses, lawsuits can be very expensive, especially if a case drags on for extended periods of time.

It seems that quite a number of Blog Herald readers agree with this point of view, and have suggested that we show our support to our colleague in any way we can.

The Fund Drive

Following reader suggestions (initiated by John Evans), we have set up a fund to help cover for Abe’s legal expenses, which he personally related to me has already reached quite a significant amount. We set up a Xoom link: https://www.xoom.com/pay/26999757 , which can accept any amount from US$25 to $2,500 paid via PayPal, credit card or e-check, and is deposited directly to a local account (mine, actually, since Philippine-based PayPal accounts cannot receive money). Donors could also send PayPal directly to the Blog Herald account at theblogherald (at) gmail (dot) com, which shall then be remitted to Abe come payday.

Mark Saunders even threw in an incentive–which was a link on the Blog Herald blogroll under the “friends” section for the first few contributors.

So far, the response has been nothing short of amazing. Money-wise, the fund has received $1,310 in donations to date, mostly sent in via PayPal. John Evans, David Krug and Mark himself kicked off the drive with $100 each.

In the mainstream media, the issue has been picked up by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and this, I’ve been told, has caught the attention of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which is interested in helping Abe out. The NUJP is a most vocal advocate of press freedom here in the Philippines, and has assisted journalists who have been experiencing problems similar to Abe’s.

Other bloggers have also pitched in their opinions and expression of support:

I got this list from trackbacks/pingbacks and from Technorati links. If you’ve written about the topic, then do leave a comment so I can link you up.

You can still help

If you would like to help out a comrade in need, you can still send in your contributions, by either accessing the Xoom link at https://www.xoom.com/pay/26999757 or sending PayPal to theblogherald (at) gmail (dot) com. We would appreciate a short note with your contact details and possibly URL so we can link you up.

On behalf of the Blog Herald and Abe Olandres, of course, I would like to thank everyone who already contributed, whether in cash or in kind (by writing, linking, spreading the word). I know sometimes opinions clash and we may not always be on the same side. But things like this help bring about camaraderie among us bloggers.

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  1. By Nick posted on February 12, 2007 at 3:22 pm
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    I’d love to find out the name of this company, to find out if they have tried this tactic before…

  2. By Dexter posted on February 13, 2007 at 7:38 am
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    Let’s help each other in stopping this kind of incident.

  3. Helping Out A Fellow Blogger » Jack Of All BlogsFebruary 13, 2007 at 10:21 am
  4. By Everton posted on February 13, 2007 at 12:01 pm
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    You could also cash in those two $100 amazon vouchers you won on my site ;-)

    Happy to help Abe – I’ve just donated $100. As a community I think bloggers need to support each other more. I hope it all gets resolved soon

  5. By Everton posted on February 13, 2007 at 8:59 pm
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    You could always cash in the two $100 vouchers you won on my site Abe ;-)

    No seriously, sorry to hear your situation – I’ve just donated $100 to help you out. Sorry I can’t do more. Good look with the battle.

  6. Bloggers United - Please Donate To The Abe Olandres Legal Fund | Connected InternetFebruary 14, 2007 at 12:01 am
  7. By Mark posted on February 18, 2007 at 1:11 pm
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    Update- we’ve had some more donations: approx. $350- with generous donations from Big Roy at imusblog.com, Duncan at duncanriley.com, Phil Wolff of Skype Journal, James Nichols and from Protagonist Web Hosting Services. Many thanks for your continued generosity and kindness- it’s a huge help and a wonderful show of support for Abe.

  8. By J. Angelo Racoma posted on February 19, 2007 at 4:50 am
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    Added update: $100 from Everton of connectedinternet.co.uk has been received.