Dear Shaun,

YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT MYSELF AND BUYS INC. ATTORNEYS

First of all I would like to congratulate you… your guts to take on big companies and your blog / hacklist have stirred much needed public debate and will stand out as the high water mark for free speech rights in SA for a long time.

Comments on your blog and more recent comments by yourself on 2600.co.za made no secret of your dislike for me and Buys Inc. Attorneys in general. Your public criticism on some of our hack related press statements in the past was in many aspects correct and valid… we try and explain these issues to the general public in a manner that Joe Soap will understand. Your knowledge of these matters are way above our heads! (See http://www.dewberry.co.za/index.php?cat=14).

However, your recent public comments about our involvement with the Telkom matter are plainly untrue, vindictive and unreasonable. (See http://lists.2600.co.za/pipermail/hacklist/2004-August/005850.html).

Following similar comments on the myadsl.co.za website, the website operator gave us an opportunity to state our side of the story. I copy our reply and some of the follow up comment hereunder.

As a keen free speech supported I trust that you will give us the same opportunity to respond to the 2600 subscriber list and on your blog…?

I have never met you and you never made any effort to approach us when you publicly disagreed with us. I truly cannot think of anything we have done to harm you or those you care for.

Maybe you should pop into our offices for coffee?

I await your response.

Regards,

Reinhardt Buys

BLC LLB (Pret) LLM (Cape)

Buys Incorporated
www.buys.co.za
Internet, Media and IPR Law
Tel: (021) 461-7387
Fax: (021) 462 -7117
http://www.buys.co.za/Buys_E-mail_Legal_notice.PDF

My reply:

Hi Reinhardt,

First of all, thanks for not just slamming me with a defamation lawsuit or something.. πŸ˜‰ Just kidding!

In thinking about it, my opinion of you and your firm has been dictated purely by the media perception created in press releases and comments made on various news articles. This is wrong, and I should have taken more opportunity to engage you directly on issues instead of flaring out with a comment in a publicly accessible space.

Obviously, as you point out, coming from a more technical background, and having an extreme passion for freedoms and liberties, it is easy for me to poke holes in some of those comments. However I am the first to admit that perhaps I do step too far and I should be careful not to make the attacks personal or unreasonable. I will endeavour to uphold that standard in future.

I noticed in re-reading of my comments I called your firm ‘Buys Media Whore Inc’. This is really a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I am just as guilty of ‘parading’ in the media, although I try to ensure that my motives in being outspoken and trying to ‘be the media’ are not for profit, but for freedoms (and probably for my fifteen minutes of fame), which may be where we differ. However, I do believe there is no reason why you should not use your media influence and expertees to promote your company wherever possible.

Untrue, vindictive and unreasonable against yourself and your firm my comments on the Telkom issue probably are. In that respect I am simply a frustrated end-user who cannot believe the arrogance of Telkom in their actions. Of course, the previous law firm they used proved they are not experts at trademark law (neither am I). Perhaps then I should have taken refuge in the hope that your firm was able to provide a more reasonable, more constitutionally correct opinion of the matter to Telkom. I will not remove the offending comments from wherever they are located, unless you specifically request me to do so, but I will be posting this email and other responses to correct my vitriolic outbursts on those forums.

Fear is probably the real force behind my actions and statements. I have a deep-seated fear that our technically illiterate judicial system will destroy Internet and other civil liberties without knowing it. As a law firm publicly involved in IT law, and expresssing your legal opinions quite widely, and having read some of Cyberlaw@SA (first edition) myself and seeing the lack of direction in IT law I got scared that your firm would be the one to help destroy those liberties by setting legal precedents. I realise now that even Adams & Adams can beat you at that, at least on trademark issues! πŸ™‚

I apologise for having prematurely placed you and your firm in the enemy camp with my crosshair looming large. I look forward to engaging you and members of your firm in interesting discussion and debate on legal matters in future. And if I’m in Cape Town (I’m a simple Benoni boy) at any stage in the future, I will be sure to come and sponge some coffee off you fancy lawyers. Alternatively if you are ever at your Jozi office I would be eager to catch up with you there.

Thank you for extending the olive branch – you definitely have at least as much guts as myself, if not a lot more.

Best wishes,

Shaun Dewberry
www.dewberry.co.za