There appear to be at least two cases of Hakin9 Media Ltd. retaining a "legal adviser" to send legal threats in an attempt to remove negative opinions or material that reflects poorly on the company.
The first stems from a 2007 article by 'Bartek' on secnews.pl in which he talks about Hakin9 not paying him for articles despite agreeing to do so. Four years later, he wrote a second article mentioning the Hakin9 spam problem, which we also cover. Nine months after the second article, Bartek wrote about the legal threat from Isabella Grotowska. The full complaint in Polish is available via secnews.pl (PDF). Below is a translated portion with our clarifications in brackets:
CALL FOR DISCONTINUED breach of personal
This, on the basis of Article. 24 § 1 in conjunction with Art. of art. 43 of the Act of 23 April 1964. - Civil Code (Journal of Laws of 18 May 1964 with later. Amended.), The Act of 28 January 1984. press law (OJ 1985, No. 5 pos. 24 of cognition. amended.), on behalf of my Principal, Hakin9 Media Limited Liability Company limited partnership based in Warsaw, magazine publisher Hakin9 Magazine (hereinafter Company), pursuant to a power of attorney given to me, which I enclose, I call for immediate termination of the infringement of personal rights of my Principal by: immediate removal text in the link http://www.secnews.pl/2012/01/24/hakin9-magazine/ The business model of the publication is based on acquiring free content from young authors who want to promote themselves on the market. The company understands [acknowledges] that not every author agrees to such cooperation rules and respects their opinion. This is not however the reason to call authors that agree to such conditions a "deer" [gullible or naive person] or insult the company that proposes such conditions; The text you have published doesn't fit the bounds of justified criticism. You have lynched [publicly assaulted] Hakin9 magazine creating an impression in the process as if your point of view was a common [public] perception (literally: you created an impression in process of lynching Hakin9] as if your opinions were overlapping the common view/perception [of the magazine]). You have proven to completely ignore the rules of preparing press publications, because this text, except for the information that Hakin9 magazine exists on the market, contains only false statements. For your record: The publisher of Hakin9 did not change the (company) name - Haking Media sp z o.o. is publishing the Hakin9 magazine on a license granted by Software Press Sp z o.o. SK, which you can read about in the footer; [..]
In short, Hakin9 is asserting that Bartek's blogs do not fall "within the limits of legitimate criticism". We are certainly not lawyers, especially practicing in Poland, but Wikipedia summarizes defamation law in Poland and Bartek's blogs do not appear to fall within that scope.
A second legal threat was sent to Fyodor of insecure.org, after the recent Nmap article fiasco. Despite granting Fyodor permission to publish the Nmap article, the same Izabela Grotowska sent him a Cease & Desist letter on October 3. In that email, she asserts that he did not have permission to post it. However, when Fyodor explicitly asked if he could publish it, he was originally told "Sure! You can post whichever article you'd like. Will you be posting that on your main page?" Fyodor shared this tale with the Nmap-Developer mail list. The email from Grotowska is below:
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2012 17:20:03 +0200 From: Izabela Grotowska (iza.grotowska () gmail com) To: fyodor () insecure org Cc: ewa dudzic (ewa.dudzic () software com pl) Subject: illegal use of copyright Dear Sir, On behalf of Hakin9 Media Sp. z o.o. with its seat in Warsaw (Poland), by a power of attorney given to me, I inform You that the company is one and only publisher of the magazine "Hakin9 Magazine" and has exclusive copyrights to the article entitled Nmap: 'The Internet Considered Harmful - DARPA Inference Cheking Kludge Scanning', written by Mr. Yarochkin Fyodor. Therefore, please remove this article from website under the following address: http://seclists.org/nmap-dev/2012/q3/1050 as it is distributed without any legal basis and even permission of the publisher. In case of failure to comply with this request, the Company will be forced to take a legal way. Regards, Izabela Grotowska legal adviser Warsaw, Wysowska 13 Str, 02-682 Warsaw (Poland)
Oct 9 update: Niebezpiecznik (@niebezpiecznik on Twitter) posted a blog about this topic, covering the two incidents above. In addition, the blog also details how he received a letter from Grotowska as well, asking him to remove a critical article of Hakin9.
Oct 12 update: Shortly after publishing this article, a fourth legal threat was brought to our attention. @Zaufana3Strona blogged about the Nmap DICKS article fiasco. A few days later, he wrote a subsequent article that also included information about the legal threat against Fyodor and Bartek, as well as other commentary. Hours after posting the second article, he received a legal threat of his own from Grotowski demanding that he remove the second article. He then blogged about the letter from Grotowska he received in which Hakin9 apparently wanted to further conceal the Nmap article fiasco.
These four incidents make it clear to us that Hakin9 will resort to legal threats even when they are not warranted. With the publication of the Hakin9 material on the Errata pages, we have to wonder if we will get a legal threat as well.