Daily Beast interview with Owen Benjamin

The Daily Beast interviewed Owen Benjamin about the Patreon lawsuit filed against 72 of its users who backed him. The piece was originally supposed to run on June 24, but apparently never appeared on the site. So, Owen sent me the interview to post for your reading pleasure here.

DB: Patreon says you urged your fans to file claims against Patreon to punish the site, through arbitration costs, for ending your account? Do you think that’s a fair account of what happened?

OB: Not at all. Patreon violated their rights just as it violated my rights when it tortiously interfered with the separate legal contract between me and them. They are exercising their right to legal redress, which Patreon mandated be done through arbitration, just as I am. It’s not their fault, or my fault, that Patreon’s lawyers were dumb enough to impose a legal structure on its users that literally guarantees its own bankruptcy.

Did your fans realize, when they filed the arbitration complaints, that they could potentially get sued? It strikes me that some of these people might not have realized their names and locations would be outed. In that way, do you think this plan backfired?

No. Nor did I, because they shouldn’t be getting sued in the first place, much less sued in a group action. The only reason Patreon brought the lawsuit now is to try to dox and harass them into withdrawing, because it has been losing every decision related to my arbitration and their arbitrations for the last six months. But I guess if you’re going bankrupt, you might as well go down swinging.

Do you have plans to cover your fans’ legal fees or expenses?

Of course. And we’ll set up a legal defense fund if that turns out to be necessary, which it probably won’t. Remember, the Patreon Terms of Use specifically bar group actions, and what Patreon filed is a group action.

Feel free to add anything else on the case you’d like to share.

Your readers may not be fans of mine, but they should be aware that Patreon has repeatedly attempted to strip the California consumer protections from ALL of its creators and is also trying to strip legal rights from all four million of its users. The lawsuit isn’t the first time they’ve doxxed people either; they sent me the complete account information for 2,700 complete strangers – someone else’s patrons – as a result of a data breach.

The real story here is that there probably won’t be a Patreon by the time this is over.  Their CEO openly admits that their business model isn’t sustainable, their numbers reported on Graphtreon suggest they’re losing something like $1.5 million every month, and I’ve been told they have already received hundreds of notices of arbitrations unrelated to my situation. I think this lawsuit is mostly their outside counsel trying to keep the checks coming in for a little while longer.

You’ve been described as “alt right” and engaging in “Holocaust denial” in articles, including Bethany Mandel’s in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Do you think those are accurate descriptions?

I raise goats, I tell jokes, and I voted for Obama. I don’t know who Bethany Mandel is, but since I am a history major, I’ll bet I know a lot more about World War II history than she does. You know perfectly well those are not accurate descriptions.

For a considerably less-informed take on the situation, read the Daily Dot article, which manages to get everything wrong from the very start and commits two egregious errors in the first seven words of the headline.