Posts in Internet.
Posted in Internet

In a decision that raises a host of legal and ethical questions, the Cleveland Plain Dealer today disclosed the identity of someone who had frequently posted anonymous commentary on the newspaper's web site.  According to the paper, the commenter, who used the name "lawmiss," was using the personal email account of local trial Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold and was commenting in harsh terms about cases involving Judge Saffold.

While the Plain Dealer quotes the judge's daughter as admitting to being "lawmiss," this story comes less than two weeks after Judge Saffold ordered the ... Read More 

Posted in Internet

With 2009 drawing to a close, a panel of the Fourth Circuit affirmed a decision by the Eastern District of Virginia holding that the website was an “interactive computer service” entitled to immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act with respect to 20 website postings concerning a class-action lawsuit against an auto dealer. The Fourth Circuit’s opinion in Nemet Chevrolet, Ltd. v., Inc. is linked here.

The Fourth Circuit panel’s majority opinion is largely procedural, but it offers an important lesson about ... Read More 

Posted in Internet

In light of our recent discussion of Bartnicki v. Vopper and the legality of publishing information that was illegally obtained by a third party, this recent case from New Hampshire drew our attention.

In early November, the New Hampshire Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving a website's refusal to identify the author of a post that criticized mortgage lender The Mortgage Specialists Inc.  The site, Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter, had posted a story concerning a state investigation into MSI for, among other things, allegedly forging signatures and ... Read More 

Posted in Internet

Texas court has ruled that the Abilene Reporter-News does not have to reveal the identities of anonymous posters who submitted online commentary concerning a murder defendant to an Abilene newspaper’s website. According to the Reporter-News, the anonymous posters’ identities had been sought by the defendant’s attorney to ensure that none of the posters were selected to sit on the jury for the murder trial, which began on June 23. 

The Taylor County District Court’s decision to protect the posters’ identities, which was issued on July 19, is one of the early ... Read More 

Posted in Internet

In a seemingly simple little case that has turned out to have all kinds of interesting and important twists, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last month held that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act did not preclude a plaintiff from stating a valid claim for promissory estoppel against an Internet service provider.

The case, Barnes v. Yahoo!, Inc., arose in 2004 when Cecilia Barnes broke up with her long-term boyfriend, who responded by creating in Barnes’s name several Yahoo profiles that contained nude pictures of Barnes and various open ... Read More 

Posted in Internet

A former Louisiana State University student recently filed a libel complaint against the student newspaper, the Daily Reveille, its management staff, and several officials associated with the university for alleged defamatory comments about the plaintiff that were anonymously posted on the newspaper’s website.  The Student Press Law Center provides a link to the amended complaint in a story about the lawsuit and also reports that the lawsuit has been dismissed in this follow up article.

The amended complaint alleged that the editor-in-chief and managing editor of the ... Read More 

Posted in Internet

As we discussed earlier, courts across the country are now dealing with the question of how state shield laws apply to anonymous commentary on newspaper web sites.  Mirroring these cases is a series of cases approaching the issue from the perspective of the people doing the commenting.  More specifically, courts are addressing the question of whether anonymous commenters on web sites have a First Amendment right to remain anonymous and, if so, whether the web site hosts have standing to raise those First Amendment rights in countering efforts to compel the hosts to disclose the ... Read More 

Posted in Internet

 A bill introduced this session in the North Carolina General Assembly would take the regulation of speech on the Internet in a troubling new direction.  Indeed, the negative response to Senate Bill 46, introduced by Senator Steve Goss, has spanned the political spectrum, ranging from North Carolina's Civitas Institute, which termed it the "bad bill of the week," to the BlueNC blog.  The bill has several components.

First, the bill would criminalize defamatory statement made over the Internet.  In particular, the bill declares it to be "unlawful for any person ... Read More 

Posted in Internet

Jurisdiction is one of many issues that has become increasingly complicated in a world of web-based communications. Courts across the country have wrestled with the question of where a person who posts content on the Internet about another may be sued. Some litigants have argued that since the Internet may be accessed anywhere in the world, a person who places content on the Internet does so at the peril of being sued anywhere. Such approach would risk chilling Internet speech as bloggers and blog hosts may find themselves sued in far-flung locales, as potential plaintiffs troll the ... Read More 


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