The TechCrunch UK Shutdown: Is Michael Arrington Guilty of Censorship and Unfairly Voiding a Franchise

Now normally, I wouldn’t dare take on a force to reckon with like Michael Arrington but the more I read about the TechCrunch UK shutdown, the more I feel like there’s something absolutely wrong with the outcome.

To give you the executive rundown:

The TCUK editor expressed some frank remarks (still mild stuff if you read it) about a French blogging conference ‘going corporate’ to which the French organizer responded in the comments with “a**hole”. Michael Arrington then asks the TCUK editor to remove the Frenchman’s comment and of course that can’t be done (because it’s already out there and would compromise TCUK’s integrity). So some more words fly and at the end of the day, TCUK is on more or less permanent hiatus and the editors are locked out. Not only that but all the TCUK comments were just ripped out.

You can read Michael’s take here and the TCUK take here and juicy bits in the Digg submission here.

It all looks like a perfectly decent misunderstanding just reading Michael’s take but what Arrington doesn’t mention is that TCUK is a 50/50 franchise that was financially independent of the TechCrunch mothership.

Let me spell it out again, the editors of TechCrunch UK got jacked! Locked out of their own blog without any recourse but their personal sites for conduct that was not in violation of any prior agreement.

Since Michael is a former lawyer I’m sure he’s got all angles covered but we need to bring justice since all the other famous bloggers don’t want to touch this with a ten-foot pole lest they get on TechCrunch’s bad side.

This situation distresses me because the UK startup scene suddenly lost a much needed outlet to cover web developments “across the pond”. Now, Michael has every right to protect or manage the TechCrunch brand as he sees fit but suddenly pulling the plug on a 50/50 franchise and walking away seems like robbery to me.

I’m wondering if I can start a petition here to bring a real closure to the situation. Mainly, I want to see that:

1. All past archives of TCUK are either handed over to the previous editors or granted joint rights with the former TCUK editors.

2. Public dialogue between the parties take place in some kind of digital form instead of the one way posts covering half the story.

3. A link to any new blogging venture the former TCUK editors start until TCUK resumes under new staffing.

This is really dissappointing to see. I know how hard it is to continue writing a blog. The TCUK guys were pros at their craft and did wonders for the franchise. Who wouldn’t be touched to read something like this:

I worked hard to achieve this success, with Sam. I was even still posting at 2am on Tuesday night prior to my wife going into hospital for cancer treatment, a fact which has prevented me from responding more fully until now.

Well, now all their posts no longer belong to them. They have no recourse against a much more powerful blogger and none of the others with clout want to stand up for them either.

Nobody will know the true story but I think in this case the little guy got screwed. Even if justice is not served we can bring this issue to light and hopefully bring closure for the former editors of TCUK.

TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » Putting TechCrunch UK on Hold

TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » Le Web3 the good, bad and ugly.

Digg – An Open Letter to Michael Arrington

Categories: web