“It’s a matter of principle”
Usually, this dangerous little phrase is the preface to a decision which, while heartfelt, is often unwise. Take, for example, the recent case of an internet journalist who, having made one wildly off-base charge of copyright infringement, decided to double-down and make another. In doing so, our fearless journalist, whom we’ll call Beri Tuhl in a cynical effort to avoid yet another threatened lawsuit, really only succeeded in demonstrating a remarkable misunderstanding of copyright law. I’ll let techdirt tell the full story, since they are the ones threatened with a lawsuit, but the original and subsequent stories on Ms. Tuhl’s activities would most likely be covered by the wounded but still existent fair use doctrine, so her threats were unwarranted at best. I can’t imagine the resulting firestorm has been pleasant to endure or helpful to Ms. Tuhl’s credibility.
So, if you’re tempted to make a threat based on some sort of principle, legal or otherwise, take a step back and consider whether that principle is really worth the potential consequences. After all, in a world where social media can greatly multiply even the smallest misstatement, it’s sometimes better to be quiet than right, and it’s almost always better to be quiet than wrong.