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Re: Anonymity of blog readers
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 3 Mar 2009 13:01:39 -0500

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Paul Levy" <plevy () citizen org>
Date: March 3, 2009 12:05:35 PM EST
To: "David Farber" <dave () farber net>, "ip" <ip () v2 listbox com>
Subject: Anonymity of blog readers

Jim's surmise is correct -- the case, in which we represented the
newspaper chain that was opposing the subpoena -- DID involve the
anonymity of citizens who wrote comments on a newspaper's online blog,
and not the anonymity of those who were only readers.

However, there is a case currently pending in Buckingham County,
Virginia (south of Charlottesville) in which a libel plaintiff has
subpoenaed the IP addresses of everybody who has even READ the allegedly
defamatory stories online.  The theory seems to be that the plaintiff
can then interrogate them about how they perceived the story and whether
it had any impact on the plaintiff's reputation.  It is a chilling
theory indeed.

We represent a blogger who received a similar subpoena after he
commented on the libel litigation (it seems that this plaintiff won't
tolerate ANY discussion).  As it happens, our client does not have
access to readers' IP addresses, so the issue will be moot as it applies
to him, but it is possible that the newspaper may have such access, so
the issue may well be joined for that subpoena.

Paul Alan Levy
Public Citizen Litigation Group
1600 - 20th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
(202) 588-1000

David Farber <dave () farber net> 3/3/2009 5:00 AM >>>

Begin forwarded message:

From: Jim Warren <jwarren () well com>
Date: March 2, 2009 8:19:47 PM EST
To: dave () farber net
Cc: labmanager () gmail com
Subject: Re: [IP] Court sets standard for online anonymity protections

From: No-Name <labmanager () gmail com>

Web sites involved in defamation suits are not required to
immediately hand over the identities of readers who leave anonymous

comments ...

I think (I HOPE!) that this concerned the identities of writers; not
of the "readers".

(However, is it noteworthy that various law enforcers - foreign adn
domestic - have demanded that librarians provide information about
which readers check-out various publications, as well as demanding
identities of everyone who views or downloads various content that is

prohibited - somewhere.)

Irregardless, please note that - if (when!) laws DO force disclosure
of each author of each writing posted online, then web-sites will have

to remove The Federalist Papers, considered the third-most important
legal document in the nation, after the Constitution and Declaration
of Independence!

The writers of those crucial public debates (including the Anti-
Federalist Papers) did so anonymously, with strong justification at
the time.

The authorship of those individual papers was never confirmed by their

writers, although most identities were later alleged by various third

parties and historians, long after the fact, including by modern
researchers who used statistical analyses of the writing patterns.

(Will we next have guilt by statistical probability?)


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