Book publisher to drop lawsuit against McMaster librarian

A U.S.-based publishing company has announced it's dropping at least one of its lawsuits against a McMaster librarian after scholars from North America came to his defense.
A U.S.-based publishing company has announced it has 'discontinued' its court case against McMaster librarian Dale Askey. (Adam Carter/CBC)

A U.S.-based publishing company says it is dropping at least one of its lawsuits against a McMaster librarian after scholars across North America came to his defense.

Edwin Mellen Press (EMP) had filed two lawsuits against Dale Askey and McMaster University, claiming a total of $4.5 million in damages.

In the first filing, submitted in June of last year, the company alleged that statements Askey made in a Sept. 2010 blog post, while he was working at a Kansas university, were both "false" and "defamatory in its tone and context."

In his entry "The Curious Case of Edwin Mellen Press," which has since been removed from the website, Askey referred to the company as a "dubious publisher" and a purveyor of "second-class scholarship."

The librarian went on to advise that, "in a time when libraries cannot purchase so much of the first-class scholarship, there is simply no reason to support such ventures."

Askey began working at McMaster two years ago, and the post remained on his website into 2012.

The filing claimed that McMaster is liable for allowing Askey "to continue the publications" and for refusing to force him to take the posting down.

The lawsuits inspired scholars from around North America to rally behind Askey. Created by Martha Reineke, a professor of religion at the University of Northern Iowa, a petition demanding EMP to drop its lawsuits had garnered more than 3,100 names as of Monday morning.

EMP told CBC Hamilton on Monday that it "has discontinued the court case against McMaster University and Dale Askey."

In a statement, the company added: "financial pressure of the social media campaign and press on authors is severe. EMP is a small company. Therefore [it] must choose to focus its resources on its business and serving its authors."