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Faconnable US v John Does 1 -10

Topic(s): Internet Free Speech - Right To Speak Anonymously

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Description:

A member of the public edited a highly promotional Wikipedia page about a fashion company to point out a relationship between the company’s Lebanese owner and Hezbollah, which has been designated as a terrorist organization. The company sued for libel and trademark infringement and obtained a court order requiring the poster’s Internet Service Provider (“ISP”)to disclose the poster’s name. On a motion for reconsideration, the magistrate judge acknowledged the most courts require notice to the anonymous speaker and a detailed showing that the case has possible merit, but he declined to follow those cases. Representing the ISP and invoking the well-established First Amendment right to speak anonymously, Public Citizen asked the district judge in charge of the case to overrule the magistrate judge, hence avoiding the chilling effect on protected speech that the magistrate judge’s opinion would create. After taking two extensions of time to respond to the objections, plaintiff withdrew its subpoena; the trial court nevertheless vacated the magistrate’s ruling because the mooting of the case prevented the ISP from obtaining review.