Paul Ceglia, a man in a heated lawsuit with Facebook, wants his side heard. The problem is Ceglia is fighting an uphill battle in the believability department and rambles through diatribes. Nevertheless, Ceglia is forging ahead in his Facebook battle and believes he can overcome the odds.
After my last article, "Facebook: Ceglia's contract doesn't even mention Facebook", a man claiming to be Paul Ceglia contacted me via email. He asked me if I wanted to get his side of the story. I agreed and he sent me a long reply (the full 1,147-word email is posted at the bottom).
Will the real Paul Ceglia please stand up?
Verifying Ceglia's identity was a bit tricky. He's in Ireland now and I couldn't exactly meet him in person. It's also difficult to pelt him with questions since much of his background is public record. Via cell phone numbers, pictures sent to us, and two phone conversations, we have enough confidence that it's him. He refused to do a Skype call and used a wonky PC excuse not to have one. Regardless, Ceglia is either very emotional and convinced he owns a significant chunk of Facebook or is simply a very good actor.
After the initial contact, I was not sure if this was the real Paul Ceglia; it could easily be Facebook playing games with a journalist, an impostor (such as someone who hates Facebook), or even someone at Facebook with his or her own agenda. He suggested that he would send me an image of himself with the words "Hi Emil" on a piece of paper. 15 minutes later, I received a text message from "3538xxxxxxxx" that said "Hey emil. Pic wont seem to send."
His number helped his case: 353 is the area code for Ireland, and typically cell phone numbers start with an 8x for a more local area code, followed by seven numbers. Unfortunately, not getting a picture was unacceptable – he said he was having trouble sending it as a text message and also wasn't sure how to transfer it to a computer to send via email.
I suggested he email it directly from his phone instead, and he agreed. Another 15 minutes later, and I was looking at a very blurry image that looked like a man holding a piece of paper with the words "HI EMIL" scrawled on. I asked for a better picture, and I got it a little later, though it was still a little blurry. The picture matched other photos on the Web of Ceglia.
I asked him if we could talk on the phone and tried calling him. He didn't pick up. I emailed him again. Thirty minutes later, he called me. We chatted, I asked him a few questions, and he told me about how the media published everything Facebook said like it was the gospel. He said it was much harder for him to get his side of the story out.
Finally, Ceglia chatted with ZDNet's editor, Larry Dignan, and had a largely off the record chat. He then sent me a third picture taken some time in the last three days with a digital camera (as opposed to a cell phone camera), which you can see at the top right of this article (click to enlarge).
What Ceglia told me
Ceglia's main argument appears to be that the original "authentic contract" Facebook says it found is really just a Photoshopped image the company planted on his computer. He says he and his lawyers reportedly knew about it for some time and willingly handed it over to Facebook. He declares that his team will prove the image in question "has no authenticating properties whatsoever."
Ceglia speculates it could have been Zuckerberg himself, or the US law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe that may have done the alleged dirty work. He also says Facebook co-founder Eduardo Savrin accused Orrick of "conspiring with Zuckerberg to deprive him of his shares during his case."
Facebook's adversary then goes on to call Zuckerberg "an admitted forger and an admitted hacker" and explains this is true "not because he feels compelled to tell the truth, like ever, but because he carelessly wrote as his home address on the document he was forging an address that he didn't know about or move to until more than a year after the document was supposedly written!"
Last but certainly not least, Ceglia says he has conclusive proof that Zuckerberg is lying. He said that anyone with some legal expertise or technical expertise willing to help "nail him down for good" is welcome to join at PaulsCase.com, which requires registration. Via the PaulsCase wiki, Ceglia is trying to open source his lawsuit. His current lawyer is on an interim basis and Ceglia is looking for a more "collaborative" law firm to work with him.
A few other things he goes on record to say:
- "Mark Zuckerberg has admitted to forgery and he has done it once again."
- "This time though he isn't just going to get away with it and buy himself out, you will face a jury of our peers Mark, and your PR team won't be there to save you."
- "History will record you as the only billionaire to have ever lost his empire to a Tiff image."
- "You won't go public Mark, you won't IPO, you won't pass go. I won't let you sell this company out from under me not while I have the power to stop you."
- "Zuckerberg reminds me a great deal of the great Edward J Smith, captain of the Titanic, ignorant of the conditions surrounding him he arrogantly continues onward until the moment he hits the iceberg. You've hit your Iceberg now bud so don't come to Ireland again, this time crying to me that you have to protect your image."
- "750 million dollars isn't cool Mark, you know what 's cool? 750 million users is cool..."
Last week, Facebook said it found "smoking-gun evidence that the purported contract at the heart of this case is a fabrication." When Facebook’s lawyers asked for a resubmittal of a document to the court due to improper redaction, it turned out the blacked out text referred to an "authentic contract" and "storage devices" that Facebook says Ceglia is intentionally hiding from the company, in violation of a court order.
Originally, Ceglia's lawyers said the "authentic contract" is shielded from use in the lawsuit because it is designated as "confidential" under the rules of an agreement between the two parties. Facebook then asked Judge Leslie Foschio of the US District Court in New York City to overrule that designation. Foschio agreed and ordered Paul Ceglia to hand over documents Facebook says proves he forged the 2003 contract.
As for the "storage devices," Facebook now says that forensic data shows evidence of six USB devices, which it argues were likely used to modify the authentic contract. The company's lawyers say at least one of those devices includes a folder called "Facebook Files" and an image called "Zuckerberg Contract page1.tif." Facebook believes that image is the page of the contract that was forged to include mention of an investment in the social network.
Facebook acknowledges that Ceglia hired Zuckerberg to work for his StreetFax company in April 2003 while Zuckerberg was a freshman at Harvard. Ceglia first legally attacked Facebook in July 2010, saying the contract also included $1,000 initial funding for Facebook, and that he’s entitled to more than half of the social networking giant. That last part Facebook is obviously disputing.
Facebook insists Ceglia is a known con artist. Since he first filed suit, Ceglia has been dropped by at least four law firms. He is now reportedly living in Galway, Ireland, but the lawsuit is continuing. Ceglia, who called ZDNet from Ireland, maintains that he has been unfairly painted as a con artist.
Below is the full email Ceglia sent to me, with original spacing, spelling, and grammar errors left intact:
We have known about this photoshopped "image" for some time and i willingly handed it over to them, now they claim it is the original and that there are other files I'm intentionally not handing over, when I gave over their doctored page 1.. It's laughable... they make this stuff up as they go along.
I believe based on the fact that Orin Snyder argued almost exclusively for my parents computers, the location where the so called "image" was discovered that either Orin Snyder is clairvoyant and had a premonition that his "smoking gun" was on my parents computer or he knew in advance that it was planted there. Perhaps by Zuckerberg himself and perhaps by Orrick, the firm Eduardo Savrin accused of conspiring with Zuckerberg to deprive him of his shares during his case. If that is the case then they are subornating perjury and conspiring along with Zuckerberg to protect the empire and this time they are going to get caught. Eduardo Savrin, the bus is rolling, just needs a little push from the sidelines.
It is obvious that these major outlets continue to protect Mark and his "new image". He is an admitted forgerer, he was forced to admit it under oath, not because he feels compelled to tell the truth, like ever, but because he carelessly wrote as his home adress on the document he was forging an address that he didnt know about or move to until more than a year after the document was supposedly written! A rational person would think I need not say more, and that surely my arrest for mushrooms 14 years ago or the fact that I fell behind on wood pellet orders that have long since paid back is irrelevant compared to the more daming and far more on point evidence that Zuckerberg is an admitted forger and an admitted hacker, yet a read of the major media outlets shows what most people know already, that our "Free Press" slant the news to the big boss's views. A luxury afforded the Billionaires of this world that clearly have their own agendas. Perhaps calling them out like this will force some two sided coverage of the story.
We've now waited weeks past when we were due to get the 175 emails
from Zuckerberg, supposedly because they were afraid that I might use them, as if it was I that needed additional support for my side of the case. Me, a guy that has limited computer knowledge, they are concerned about, but the fact that Mark has now had more than two weeks to do the very same thing... having had all my emails to read so that he can make his sound like a better narrative is ignored and I have to trust that he, the admitted forger, isnt actively switching his emails around to counter mine??!!! wierder and wierder.
Zuckerberg reminds me a great deal of the great Edward J Smith, captain of the Titanic, ignorant of the conditions surrounding him he arrogantly continues onward until the moment he hits the iceberg. You've hit your Iceberg now bud so don't come to Ireland again, this time crying to me that you have to protect your image.
History will record you as the only billionaire to have ever lost his empire to a Tiff image.
This "image" they claim is the original is forged and we will prove it has no authenticating properties what so ever. I would have expected more from him and his henchmen.
You won't go public Mark, you won't IPO, you won't pass go. I won't let you sell this company out from under me not while I have the power to stop you.
We have conslusive proof Mark is lying and we are searching for more, anyone with some legal or technical expertise that would like to help us nail him down for good is welcome to join in at PaulsCase.com
What I can tell you is, before the testing it was Orin "King Kong" Snyder beating his chest with "amateurish forgery" claims on the original paper contract, now that they have tested it, suddenly we hear no more about that, though you will be hearing a lot from us on it in the coming months. Suddenly there are requests for a second round of ink testing, clearly outside the court order for expedited discovery and I don't think it takes much to conlude that they wouldnt need more ink if the first batch they took showed a "real" smoking gun as they claimed it would.
Even some of their experts have come under fire from their own colleagues for the false or misleading testimony they gave. (see the linguistics expert publicly outted by the president of the linguistics society)
Instead they continue to make up their defense as they go along and now talk about this "image" and since Mark has now officially claimed that is the original then I'm happy to be the first to say-
"Mark Zuckerberg has admitted to Forgery and he has done it once again." this time though he isnt just going to get away with it and buy himself out, you will face a jury of our peers Mark, and your PR team won't be there to save you.
To adopt a line from the movie-
750 million dollars isnt cool Mark, you know what 's cool? 750 million users is cool...
Some unrelated opinions...
From the Arab Spring to the riots of London last week, I see that social networks are the peoples tools to not only talk about how bored we are today, or to worry about everyone seeing that last photo we put up, but also when users are oppressed somewhere and realize it, it obviously can be used to overthrow tyranny and outmanuever the forces that protect the establishment. It's become the peoples voice and a powerful tool to unite the masses. It's a tool that deserves to stay in the hands and control of the people.
I'm starting to have all sorts of opinions as to what I'll do when I'm at the helm. Some might call it delusions of self grandure, you can call me what you like but if Thomas Jefferson was right and that-
"all tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent" then in good conscience when I'm at the helm I won't let any government have the power to silence it's citizens, especially during an uprising. Money has never been my interest in this case, most of the lawyers for sure, but for me the network is what is important, we have a lot of tyrants to rid ourselves of in this world and a lot of inappropriate pictures to share with our singular circle of friends but as Michael Franti says..we won't stop.. and I won't quit...
Facebook gave me a standard "No comment" response when I asked for a statement in regards to this article.