So Ryan Kopf is Suing Me

Update (7/5): After being initially dismissed in Iowa, Kopf has refiled the case in Illinois.

So we do a lot of stuff here at Nerd & Tie. We’re starting a new convention, produce a podcast, just launched a new show, run panels at conventions, maintain a geek news blog, and provide in-depth coverage about conventions. That last one is a particular point of pride for us, as we do our best to dig for stories most other convention news blogs avoid or don’t take time to investigate. Most of that coverage starts with reader tips sent to us via our contact form or email address.

AnimeCon.org/Chrono LC CEO Ryan Kopf has apparently taken issue with our coverage of some of his events though, and last week I was served a petition at my home. Ryan Kopf is suing me for defamation in the state of Iowa.

The case (CVCV295431) is specifically about the following two articles:

Now, I don’t want to discuss details, but I still stand by what I wrote – as do Nick and Pher (who co-created Nerd & Tie with me). I have secured legal counsel, and intend to fight.

But this isn’t going to be cheap for me.

Because of this, I’m launching a GoFundMe campaign to try and cover my legal costs. If you can contribute, please do – as we aren’t exactly a big operation here at Nerd & Tie, and can only continue with the help of people like you.

Wish us luck… and, y’know, help out if you can.

Update: People have been asking for a full copy of the petition, so I took some quick photos of the document.

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Update (2/26): Pher Sturz has now also been named in the case.

Update (3/8): While the case is still active against Pher Sturz, a motion to dismiss has been granted for me (Trae Dorn).

Update (7/5): After being initially dismissed in Iowa, Kopf has refiled the case in Illinois.

  • As usual, my side of the story (found on my website) is not presented. And the (one and) only time we’ve been asked for comment, our lengthy reply was boiled down to practically nothing.

    I’m sure my comment will be followed by nothing but negative comments with absolutely false accusations. But for those who are reading both sides, here are my comments on this matter.

    Having the things said about a person that have been said about me is obviously difficult. I try to take these comments and stories in stride and not dwell on them. And when possible, defer them with a bit of humor (which, admittedly, I’m not great at).

    My entire goal in organizing conventions is to support nerds like myself. I grew up in a high school like any other, where playing sports and partying made you cool and getting a high GPA made you a dork. Today I work every day to provide fellow nerds with places free of harassment where we can express ourselves and geek out as much as we want.

    But an anonymous smear campaign directed against me has taken place since 2013 from the depths of the internet, hiding incognito behind internet proxies. Several months ago I launched a lawsuit to unmask this anonymous campaigner, who I believe is (primarily) just one person operating under multiple pseudonyms. I cover this in my online transparency report.

    Meanwhile, a blogger unrelated to this anonymous campaign, has written several articles about me calling me sketchy and a “villain.” He writes a new article after almost every convention I run.

    No other non-famous person receives that level of attention.

    And when he says “villain,” we’re not talking the villains of the trope where the villain turns out to be a good guy like Megamind, nor the villains of the slightly-realty-bending-mind of some writers at Cracked.com.

    In these stories I don’t even get to be a super-villain.

    I do not claim my conventions are perfect. We have had complaints and problems like any other conventions. We have dealt with things like complaints of shortages of free ramen in our ConSweet to complaints on social media about registration line that reached a peak of two hours long at our largest convention. But countless other conventions have had a few problems, often far worse.

    From arrests to bankruptcy, none of which apply to me, none of these conventions have earned the same level of exhaustive coverage I have.

    According to Kotaku, one minecraft convention may have taken in half a million dollars before mysteriously disappearing. That’s more than I’ve made in five years of running conventions. And that story warranted only one article.

    One of our villainous activities that received an entire article? Banning someone from the convention for coming without intending to buy a ticket (aka sneaking in).

    I am now suing this writer for some of the things he’s said about me. It’s been an unwarranted and unfair array of attacks against my character.

    I’m not opposed to some criticism. The scrutiny we’ve seen as an organization has caused us to scrutinize ourselves very closely. For example, we have created one of the best harassment policies in the convention scene, that goes far beyond paying lip-service to anti-harassment, but gives our staff the power to actually do something about harassment. I’ve seen countless conventions with strongly worded policies that do literally nothing when someone comes to them with a complaint of harassment. We, on the other hand, mobilize an entire team.

    Our aggressive stance on harassment has earned me some enemies, too. Someone insulting cosplayers in person is just a keystroke away from literally calling me Hitler online with anonymity and impunity.

    When we received complaints about registration lines, I spent over 100 hours optimizing our system so that now we can process a pre-registration in under 10 seconds.

    I’ve waited a while to file this lawsuit as I’ve been busy, more focused on what I can create than instead of being focused on the negative. I am only asking for fairness.

    But if he starts calling me a super-villain, I might just be willing to look the other way.

    • Mr. Kopf, it is highly inappropriate to contact me this way. Please direct any future remarks to my attorney.

      • Topher Marohl

        Heh, that must have been satisfying.

      • Devin Hawkinson

        I like how you have plain removed comments opposing your message, whilst simply editing his post and replacing it with (This post has been deleted by a moderator)

        I mean it sure doesn’t look like you’re hiding anything.

        • Kate Carey

          He is correct on legal grounds Mr Kopf and Mr Dorn should only be in communication with each other via legal counsel once a lawsuit was commenced.

        • Ryan’s message was deleted as we wish to maintain a record that he attempted to publicly contact us. This was an exception to our normal comment policy due to the extraordinary circumstances. I’m sure he can provide you with a copy of what he wrote if you ask him.

          I know you’re actually complaining because we deleted a comment of yours on the MetaCon article. We closed comments on the posts listed on that entry because we don’t want to get into a debate about a months old post when there’s a pending legal matter.

          Sorry if our comments policy bothers you. I’m sure you can find other venues to voice your displeasure though.

        • Jessica Reese

          Going on the website of someone you’re suing to further engage with them when you really should not BECAUSE OF THE COURT CASE is highly unethical.

          • Cozmo1138

            Not to mention unprofessional.

          • Josh

            Lets be honest here, Ryan Kopf is about as unprofessional as you can get(despite his tendency to dress up in the absolutely stupidest occasions, such as when he tried to look all serious and impressive at the Anime Iowa staff meetings by wearing a suit and tie to them).

    • Zodoken

      Lol, contacting someone you’re currently suing over Disqus doesn’t exactly help your case there mate.

  • AshesOfDreams

    Obviously he would come here and comment. It’s hard to believe someone who makes such poor choices, works with so many cons.

  • shortsharpsnippydisagreeable

    Depending what state you’re in, please look into Anti-SLAPP legislation. This is clearly a ‘The big meanie poo-poo head is saying bad things about me, so I’m going to sue them to shut them up!’ suit, and as such, it might mean you qualify for Anti-SLAPP measures. (I am not a lawyer, I just work in a law office.)

    • Josh

      Sadly Iowa does not have anti-SLAPP laws, which is probably why Kopf felt safe suing him there.

  • Brett Carreras

    As a show promoter myself, I would absolutely sue you if you said those things about me. Without direct quotes, or a police report to back up what you said, I would agree he is acting exactly as I would. It appears all he wants is for you to remove the post and pay for the damage they caused. Furthermore, Iowa has a long arm statute which will compel you to be in court in that state for your hearing, or judgement will be levied against you. I suggest you call his attorney and negotiate for the smallest settlement his side is willing to accept before this goes any further. I am stunned your attorney hasn’t told you the same thing. You are correct…it will cost you travel + lodging, plus $300+ /hr plus travel and lodging for your attorney PLUS damages even if YOU win, it will cost $5-10k. Offer them $2k and see if they accept it. Good luck!

    • You realize we have direct statements from the involved parties in those articles, right? We link directly to our primary source in the Anime California article. We chose not to publish the full statements in the MetaCon article, but we have copies of them as well (and Silvieus wrote publicly on his Facebook page the same story he sent us).

      I have to ask, did you not actually *read* the articles? We never publish without the ability to back up what we write here at Nerd & Tie.

  • dodex1000

    All I can imagine is some stuffy lawyer looking at the Tumblr logo and thinking “Surely this is a typo. That can’t be right. I’ll just correct this when I write up my document.”

  • Brittany Zerkle

    I’ve heard about Ryan Kopf many times before and not from this blog, but personal stories from artist alley groups. They’re littered all over. He has a bad reputation, plain and simple, and suing someone for saying so isn’t going to make his actions go away.

  • Jessica Reese

    So…. is he also suing the original posts you referenced in the articles? Like from the maid cafe and stuff? I mean, you’re going off of those, not just pulling this out of thin air.