Another Court Ruling Protects Anonymity Of Online Posters
from the it's-good-to-be-anonymous dept
Time after time after time after time we've seen US court defend the right to anonymity of people posting anonymous blogs or comments in forums. In fact, we were a bit disappointed to see a ruling in Texas recently go the other way. However, there are still plenty of other courts willing to recognize that right to anonymity. A Maryland appeals court has agreed that online anonymity is worth protecting -- and even set up some interesting guidelines that other courts might follow:
- Require that plaintiffs notify anonymous parties that their identities are sought.
- Give the posters time to reply with reasons why they should remain nameless.
- Require plaintiffs identify the defamatory statements and who made them.
- Determine whether the complaint has set forth a prima facie defamation, where the words are obviously libelous, or a per quod action, meaning it requires outside evidence.
- Weigh the poster's right to free speech against the strength of the case and the necessity of identity disclosure.