Indiana Judge Forces Newspapers to Rat Out Anonymous Posters

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KenLV

"'If this happens, then people will be less likely to comment' on public issues, he warned."

No, they will be less likely to commit libel.

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Morichalion

When someone posts something on the comments section of any newspaper, and does so anonymously, always take their words with a grain of salt. Or a bucket, if they seem a bit insane.

The simple act of attaching your name to a body of text lends credibility to that text. As far as you can trust the author, you can trust the text. Without a name, or sources cited, said text can safely be considered to be bullshit if you don't agree with it.

That being said, there's reasons why one might want to post anonymously. Maybe they have disagreements with family. Maybe they're an in-the-closet gay person who lives a block down the street from the Westboro Baptist Church.

I'll admit to having a pretty solid knee-jerk reaction to people using the "shroud of anonymity" just to be an ass with impunity, but I don't think we should take it away from those who need it.

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D00dlavy

++ to you, sir.

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johnnyathm1

 

Just because you feel like you can say it...doesn't mean you should. I think he is going after defamation of character. Example: You have a race car driver, he drives for product "A". A disgruntled fan of product "B" gets miffed at the unwanted results of the Sunday race, and starts writing in a blog and on the forums that this driver was seen at a party sponsored by product "C" (that in its self is not a big deal, it might cause some ruffled feather and a clarifying statement...truth or lie) However, while at this party, the driver was said to be seen doing lines of coke and messing around with strippers while his wife was at home. (If that was not true, the driver can sue for defamation of character...because this can affect his standing with his fan base and cause major havoc for him and his family) That is what's happening right now...the statements that where posted, apparently, where so false and inflammatory that it is effecting many aspects of his life.

 

  Having said that, here is some more info on this. Be sure to read about when Mc D's sued...its rather interesting, and a bit unnerving.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_defamation_law

 

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Cleaver

I think the effects of being up at 2:00 in the morning are getting to me, but im not the only one who read the headline as "Indiana Jones forces newspapers to rat out anonymous posters," right?

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Ghok

I don't know. I'd have to see what the comments were. If this really is a case of some people going off and harrassing and lying about someone there are some grounds for this. Especially if there is an obvious attempt to spread lies and hurt the intended target. My instinct is that this might be the case in this story.

Laws do need to reflect reality, though. The reality is that most of the time an insulting comment in a comments section isn't all that different from someone rambling at a bar. You know, "STEVE JOBS SUCKS". This is just where people hang out now. The law hasn't caught up yet. No one should really be paying serious attention to us most of the time.

I would hope that a judge who'd issue a subpoena would be able to know the difference, but I haven't seen a lot of that when it comes to this kind of thing.

You have to be very careful, because when you give the law an inch, people try to abuse it and take a mile.

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mrl1007

so let me get this straight...he sued because people were talking bad about him in the comments section of a story? and now he wants to know who these people are so that he can sue them?!? is that what's going on?!? this makes me sick that he won and is going to be able to find out who these people are even though they chose to remain anonymous. people will definitely be scared to use their first amendment right to speak their own mind on the sites because of this. comments are just like a group of people talking about something. if somebody has something bad to say they will probably say it and i'm pretty sure there is nothing "legally" wrong with that...

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Caboose

But there's voicing your opinion and there's slander. And I don't think slander is covered by Freedom of speech.

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mrl1007

i mean ya slander is not right and can be annoying but i still don't feel like somebody should be sued or anything over some words posted in a comment section of a story. and it's not like the story was slander, just the comments that anyone could make. i feel like people have the right to express their opinion whether it be good or bad. an opinion is an opinion, nothing more nothing less. some people would feel that the "slander" is not slander at all and some people would feel it is. it's a point of view and who has the right to chose whether we can see somebody elses point of view?

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Hamburger

With freedom comes resonsibility.  One needs to use their freedoms responsibiliy or risk loosing it.  Hence the systems of laws and punishment.

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someuid

Yep.  I agree.  Free speech is protected, but slander and libel is not.  There is good reason for that.

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D00dlavy

This country will continue to become more shit until Americans get good and pissed off.

Last time I checked, Americans are fat, lazy, ignorant, stupid and apathetic.

This country is f--ked.

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avenger48

/\ I demand to know this man's identity!

In all seriousness, Americans just need to get angry enough to dig our way out of the rut we're in.  The only problem is, no one agrees on when the rut started or how deep it is.

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someuid

Unfortunately, getting good and pissed off only seems to open up opportunities for charlatans and extrimists to rise to positions of power.

And then you're really screwed.

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Caboose

I love how people thing they can say whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want and think they can get away with it.

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Silent_Raider

This isn't considered free speech, but protesting a soldier's funeral with signs saying "Thank God for dead soldiers" is?  seriously?

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ddimick

Free speech and anonymous speech are not the same thing. You're still responsible for what you say when exercising your First Amendment right.

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Maktaka

You don't have the right to make up and spread baseless lies about other people, that's why defamation lawsuits exist. If the lawsuit actually has enough merit to warrant a subpoena, I would expect the judge to require those issued with one to comply. If you get to avoid legal ramifications just because you were on the internet, the law has no teeth in the information age. I have no idea if this lawsuit has grounds or not, but it's not the website's place to be acting as defendant in this trial.

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roleki

Dude, you can't just defame Junior Achievment in Indiana and expect to get away with it.  Think of the Junior Achievers!  

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