appellate court decision re:speach

Discussion in 'Credit Talk' started by deniserich, Sep 9, 2001.

  1. deniserich

    deniserich Banned

    This is from Electronic Privacy Information Center's (EPIC) recent Newsletter:

    " In the first appellate court decision to consider the issue, a New
    Jersey court on July 11 rejected a company's attempt to obtain the
    identities of anonymous Internet critics. A three-judge panel of the
    New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, ruled that the company,
    Dendrite International, failed to meet the stringent legal standards
    required to obtain subpoenas for the disclosure of the identities of
    people who post comments on Internet message boards. The decision
    affirms a lower court ruling issued last November (see EPIC Alert

    Dendrite had sued four people who anonymously posted messages critical
    of the company on a Yahoo! message board, alleging that the posters
    had made false statements, had violated employment agreements, and/or
    had published secret information. Noting that "t is well-
    established that rights afforded by the First Amendment remain
    protected even when engaged in anonymously," the appeals court adopted
    a four-part test to ensure that the right to speak anonymously can be
    lost only if the plaintiff can show that it has a valid case against
    the speakers that could not be pursued without identifying the

    Under this standard, a court should first require the plaintiff to
    attempt to notify the anonymous posters that their identities are
    being sought and give the "John Doe" defendants an opportunity to
    oppose the request. Second, the plaintiffs must identify the exact
    statements alleged to be unlawful. Third, the court must then
    determine both whether the complaint states a valid claim for relief
    and whether the plaintiff has enough evidence to support its claim.
    Finally, if the first three criteria are met, the court must balance
    the defendant's First Amendment right of anonymous free speech against
    the strength of the case and the necessity for identifying the poster.
    The appeals court upheld the lower court ruling that Dendrite had not
    met this standard, because there was no proof that the messages had
    caused its stock price to fall or had otherwise caused it harm.

    The procedures adopted by the court had been proposed in an amicus
    brief filed by Public Citizen Litigation Group and the American Civil
    Liberties Union of New Jersey Foundation. The decision is likely to
    be influential in other cases, which are growing in frequency; Yahoo!
    recently told a judge in another case that it has received thousands
    of subpoenas like Dendrite's.

    The appeals court decision is available at:

    The Public Citizen/ACLUNJF amicus brief is available at
  2. breeze

    breeze Well-Known Member

    Great work Denise, thanks!

    I thought this comment was especially interesting. I would love to know the details, hahahaha!

  3. LKH

    LKH Well-Known Member

    I wonder how a court would rule in a situation where the plaintiff allegedly already knows the name of the person(s).
  4. deniserich

    deniserich Banned

    LKH: The coourts are very protective of our freedom of the case where they know the plaintiff still would have to prove "damages". In your situation regarding that letter from TU...WHAT damages could they possibly claim? Consumers can't stop "utilizing their services", so they can't lose money....which is the only way you can hurt a million dollar corp...they can't claim emotional duress.... In order to prevail on a libel claim you must prove actual damages. I'd like to see what damages they say you have caused these multi-billion dollar companies simply by speaking the truth about their services.
  5. breeze

    breeze Well-Known Member

    Interesting presentation of libel laws and cyberspace here. Scroll down and you will see links to the libel "lessons."

    If I read these "lessons" correctly - and they're pretty simple - in order to prove defamation (libel), the statements have to be untrue. They also have to have prevented others from doing business with that company (not likely in this case - we can't take our business elsewhere). The comments most likely fall into the category of opinion, which is not libel.

    Interesting subject.....
  6. lbrown59

    lbrown59 Well-Known Member

    But we can cause their clients to cease using their services.!
  7. breeze

    breeze Well-Known Member

    Exactly how likely is that? Lets go for the attainable..
  8. lbrown59

    lbrown59 Well-Known Member

    Depends entirely on us!

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