“I Certainly Was in the Right.”

Sorry, had a brief Pink Floyd moment there for a second.

Well it’s Monday, time to get back on the wheel and run rabbit run…..Sheesh, I’m tired already.

I see the Herald’s owner plans to cut another 1600 jobs. Can I make a few suggestions?

Meanwhile, all your anonymous posters got a slight victory as the Maryland Supreme Court imposed some reasonable limitations on a plaintiff’s ability to obtain poster information in the defamation context (thanks to a friend for the link!):

The New Jersey appellate court in Dendrite, Int’l. v. Doe took a more moderate approach. That court held that a plaintiff seeking the identification of an anonymous internet speaker must establish facts sufficient to maintain a prima facie case.

The Maryland court in the present case joined in the more moderate Dendrite approach, holding that when a trial court is confronted with a defamation action in which anonymous speakers or pseudonyms are involved, it should:

  • require the plaintiff to undertake efforts to notify the anonymous posters that they are the subject of a subpoena or application for an order of disclosure, including posting a message of notification of the identity discovery request on the message board;
  • withhold action to afford the anonymous posters a reasonable opportunity to file and serve opposition to the application;
  • require the plaintiff to identify and set forth the exact statements purportedly made by each anonymous poster, alleged to constitute actionable speech;
  • determine whether the complaint has set forth a prima facie defamation per se or per quod action against the anonymous posters; and
  • if all else is satisfied, balance the anonymous poster’s First Amendment right of free speech against the strength of the prima facie case of defamation presented by the plaintiff and the necessity for disclosure of the anonymous defendant’s identity, prior to ordering disclosure.

The Independent Newspapers case is an important case not necessarily because of any groundbreaking jurisprudence that it establishes, but because of the comprehensive way it treats the issue of unmasking unknown internet speakers. The opinion is a nearly exhaustive look at the current state of this question of law.

If you all are interested in this stuff, the opinion and Mr. Brown’s write-up is well worth a look.

Whoa — Francis Carter on the move again — wasn’t it only a few years ago that he joined Akerman?

Regardless, congrats to all on the new gig.

And how was your weekend?