A federal judge ordered Proper Media, LLC, to stop withholding ad revenue from Snopes.com while the court considers who legally controls the hoax-busting website. Snopes parent company Bardav has been struggling to survive since Proper Media, which was contracted to manage the site's publishing stopped passing the money along in a power struggle between rival stockholders.
"This is an important win," Bardav lawyer Paul Tyrell said Thursday. "Litigation can be a long process, and it's a relief to know that Bardav will have access to Snopes.com revenue to support its fact-checking operations while the action is pending."
Snopes.com -- which is a major warrior in the battle against the fake news plague -- has continued publishing stories debunking hoax articles thanks to an outpouring of reader support through a GoFundMe campaign. Nearly 25,000 individuals have donated nearly $700,000 in recent months.
"We're thankful for the generosity of the public and the tens of thousands of people who donated to help the website survive," Tyrell said.
The judges decision is a preliminary injunction that will allow Snopes to continue operations during the next phase of the court fight.
"We are incredibly grateful for the public's support of Snopes.com, and we're pleased that the court's decision means we will be able to continue our mission of keeping pace with the rapidly changing fake news landscape," Bardav founder and President David Mikkelson said.
U.S. District Judge Judith Hayes denied Proper Media's request to remove Mikkelson from Bardav's board of directors. Judge Hayes ruled that Proper Media had not presented sufficient evidence to prove that Mikkelson had engaged in any fraudulent acts, and had "not identified any particular financial transaction conducted by Mikkelson that would constitute waste or abuse of control."