by Mike Masnick
Fri, Oct 29th 2010 4:13pm
A lawsuit over the legality of a "Girls Gone Wild" video has turned into something of a free speech battle. Apparently four women who appeared in one of the famous videos as teenagers, are suing Joe Francis, the guy behind the whole GGW franchise. The women (all in their 20s now) want to remain anonymous in their lawsuit, saying that they were humiliated enough when the footage was released. The judge rejected the request to remain anonymous, and the women are now appealing. Various news organizations are taking the other side of the case, arguing that journalists should be allowed to report on names of plaintiffs for newsworthy stories. While I'm definitely a big supporter in protecting anonymous speech, I'm not sure that it makes sense here. The women were not anonymous. They appeared in public and did what the videos show them doing, whether or not they're happy about it now. On top of that, while protecting anonymous speech is a valid First Amendment issue, so is the right of journalists to publish relevant factual information on a news story. I'd be surprised if the appeals court rejects the district court's decision denying them the ability to file this case anonymously.
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