A New Judicial Narrative On Anonymous Online Defamation | Online Defamation Law Suits

Posted by admin | August 12th, 2010

The Pitssburg Post Gazette has some interesting news this morning about a lawsuit many online reputation management professionals have been following very closely.

A judge in Pittsburg decided that anonymous online commenters do not have the right to remain so. His ruling was viewed as a strike against anonymous online defamation by his supporters and as a blow against free speech to his opponents.

Anonymous bloggers beware. You may not be as anonymous as you think.

Forward Township Supervisor Thomas DeRosa has won a court victory in the action that he filed in November to uncover the identities of people who posted comments on an online bulletin board that he said defamed him.

On Wednesday, the ACLU, which had intervened in the case, turned over the Internet Protocol addresses of six individuals who made specific posts that Mr. DeRosa mentioned in his court filings.

That action follows an announcement Tuesday night by West Mifflin Area school director Albert Graham, who vowed to take legal action to obtain the names of individuals who he said had posted threats against his life on the West Mifflin page of the discussion board Topix.com.

Web service providers have protection from comments made by third-party posters under a federal 1996 telecommunications law. But some courts require them to release the names of posters’ identities if a strong enough case is made for defamation.

This is certainly not the first case that has been decided this way–so it is not revolutionary, but is indicative of an overall narrative of judicial rulings that have moved in this direction.

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