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MGD
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-31
kudos:9

3 edits
reply to nwrickert

Re: When you are no longer anonymous

In my opinion, I do not think there is anything in that case that is about to erode First Amendment rights. Nor does it appear to be a typical SLAPP lawsuit. The anonymous posters can file a John Doe appeal in an attempt to prevent the release, if they wish. Second, the only accurate data that Topix may have is an IP address where specific posts originated. That is far from an open and shut case as to who actually made the posts.

I have only perused some of the data of the circumstances, and apparently that county is in a sort of turmoil. Allegations of twisted justice, corruption, etc. etc. If you read some of the relevant posts in question, they clearly go way beyond any reasonable bounds of expressing an opinion. Ground zero seems to be the poster "LOU": »www.topix.com/forum/city/mckinne···6VF5E274 (see additional thread links at footer)

[EDIT]= Above link no longer points to the referenced thread, here is a cache link: »74.125.95.132/search?hl=en&q=cac···cache%3A >[/EDIT]

That individual posted some vile accusations, and I am not sure that it is unreasonable in a civil action to identify them. Another side to the story is here: »www.rrpolitics.org/ that website contains this:

Lawsuit Filed

February 5,2009

To Whom it May Concern,

My name is William Pieratt Demond, I am an attorney with the law firm of Connor & Demond, PLLC in Austin, Texas, and I represent Mark and Rhonda Lesher.

Please be advised that a lawsuit has been filed in the 348th District Court in Tarrant County Texas, in cause number 348235791-09 styled Mark and Rhonda Lesher v. John and Jane Does 1-178. In this lawsuit, the Leshers are seeking (among other things) compensatory and punitive damages for defamation, defamation per se, and libel per se arising out of certain postings that have appeared on the Topix.com website. A copy of the petition is available online at www.connordemond.com/lesher-v-doe-petition.ht... .

We are in the process of identifying the persons who have made these postings. In particular, we are serving a subpoena on Topix.com seeking certain documents, electronically stored information, and associated metadata.

On February 4, 2009, the Tarrant County District Court issued an order to obtain this subpoena from Topix.com . Under the Court’s order, we are required to advise you that any objections as to the form of the letter rogatory, the scope of the subpoena, or any other objections be served on Connor & Demond, PLLC, 701 Brazos, Suite 500, Austin, Texas, 78701 and filed with the Court by 5:00pm CST, February 18, 2009. If objections are filed, a hearing will be set. The Court also stated that if no timely objections are made by that time, any errors will be waived.

To those persons who have made these libelous postings, I strongly encourage you to cease and desist your activities at once. Please also be advised that the Leshers intend to pursue the individuals who made these postings to the fullest extent of the law. If you would like to discuss a settlement of this matter, I invite you to contact me 1) in writing and 2) through your attorney. Any settlement negotiations that are not completed by 5:00pm CST on March 6, 2009 will be terminated.

Finally, please be advised that my clients have authorized me to offer conditional immunity to the FIRST Defendant who can provide the name, address, and telephone number of the person(s) using the pseudonym “lou” in the relevant Topix.com communities. This offer does NOT extend to 1) the person(s) using the pseudonym “lou”, 2) the person(s) using the pseudonyms of “ilbedipt”,“awareness”,“see it all”, or any other pseudonyms that person may be using, or 3) anyone in the Coyel family. This offer will expire upon my receipt of this information from any source (be it independent investigation, discovery, witnesses, Defendants, or otherwise). Furthermore, this offer is only available to parties that contact me 1) in writing and 2) through your attorney.

Thank you for your attention.

Best regards,
William Pieratt Demond
Connor & Demond, PLLC
701 Brazos Street
Suite 500
Austin, Texas 78701

www.connordemond.com
Apparently there is a lot more to this case than is mentioned in the OP's original linked news article.

In this case, I doubt the Judge's ruling has any far reaching implications with respect to freedom of speech on the internet, nor does it create a precedent. Though this is a civil case and does not involve the Government, it appears to lean more towards "Shouting fire in a crowded theater" than anything else.

MGD


FunnyBones
Premium
join:2004-01-22
usa
kudos:1

2 edits
reply to nwrickert

A typical response when you you replying to the subject but it goes much deeper and I'm sure you know a tin foil hat is not required to understand that every 4 years our world leaders and top brass at the companies get together.

This should bother you that the meeting is in secret at club bilderberg with top brass of isp companies and more and they should be arrested since under the logan act it is a felony but since this area has no transparency I'm sure none will ever be convicted.

Yeah there is very little control when it comes to taking down anything our top brass do and have proved beyond a shadow of doubt they are above the law.

You have to look at the global internet and not just the stuff here at home and the same for the economy and how the UK has virtually no privacy and everything you do is either recorded and filtered out and the same goes for china and many others like Australia. You start to to see a much more clear picture and I'm sure some websites have probably got marching orders from their secret meetings but that is not provable so you can label the tin foil hat here.

If you think about data mining and you think about the nsa spying on your phone calls our government is like a paranoid crack addict. (he or she likes music omg a terrorist)

I like the idea of being anonymous and you may disagree but that is your own opinion but as I said libel and may other things will make this a more closed and censored internet and I hope you enjoy it.



AB_Lazy

@dslextreme.com
reply to FunnyBones

Call me silly, but what, praytell, are the damages had by forum posters on one of the nigh-infinite number of internet forums? Plus, doesn't this deliberately fly against first-amendment issues? Privacy not withstanding, I'd think you'd be well within your rights to post, "_____ is a %*@#-head" (or whatever), so long as you stay within "clear and imminent danger" limits (ie. threats).

Hell, I'd think a site like Encyclopedia Dramatica would be the first site shut down if e-Drama was courtworthy.



ashrc4
Premium
join:2009-02-06
australia
reply to FunnyBones

said by FunnyBones:

FORT WORTH — Hundreds of people who posted their opinions of a sexual assault trial in an online forum are now the targets of a lawsuit.

The authors of those comments on a Web site thought they were anonymous, but this week, a judge ruled their names should be revealed.
Does anybody notice this when they logon?
Our Guarantee
We do not reveal any details you provide to any third party, your email address is not sold or used for our own marketing without your prior permission.
If we ever change ownership you will be provided fair opportunity to erase your account (but not any contributions you have made). If you abandon your account your registration details will be automatically removed.
There are many cross referncing parties/organisations etc that even the most innocent of objection could see you in trouble and not always through the courts if you get my drift. people who blow whistles often save lives.


anony101

@comcast.net
reply to Robdale

I don't understand how is it possible to find out the exact person who did that?
Moreover they can find the ip but if we are making comments from different places then how is it possible?
Can anyone explain?
It's a bit more involved than that as it requires cooperation between lawyer, judge and local law enforcement. But here goes. With proof of offence go to judge first and get subpoenas. With subpoenas get the IP addresses of the posters from the company which runs the forum. Then you find out what ISP the IP addresses belong to by using one of the whois databases. With subpoenas and IP address list get ISP to reveal poster identities. Of course company lawyers are expected and do put up a fight.


DrStrange
Technically feasible
Premium
join:2001-07-23
West Hartford, CT
kudos:1
reply to FunnyBones

I'm not a lawyer, but from what I've seen, this is a clear case of libel. Anyone who makes comments like this anywhere [including an online forum] should not expect privacy or anonymity, nor should they expect to go unpunished.

Here are two excerpts from the Topix Terms of Service agreement that should settle the 'expectation of privacy' argument:
»www.topix.com/topix/terms

"Priority. This Agreement, in combination with Topix's Privacy Policy (available here), sets forth the terms and conditions under which Topix makes the Service available to you. In the event of an inconsistency between this Agreement and Topix's Privacy Policy, this Agreement shall control."

"You acknowledge, consent and agree that Topix has the right to access, preserve and disclose your account information and Content if required to do so by law or in a good faith belief that such access preservation or disclosure is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with legal process; (b) enforce this Agreement; (c) respond to claims that any Content violates the rights of third parties; (d) respond to your requests for customer service; or (e) protect the rights, property or personal safety of Topix, its users and the public. Further, Topix reserves the right to cooperate with legitimate law enforcement requests for information at its sole discretion."



AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

2 edits
reply to FunnyBones

While I agree that you should be responsible for what you say, whether in "real life" or online, look at this similar case where the subpoenas were squashed on appeal.

»www.infomercialscams.com/video_professor.htm

I only make statements of fact when I have proof and if I am stating opinion I say so. Also I always assume someone is innocent unless proven guilty.

As long as there is a subpoenas are signed by a judge, the isps and website will reveal the info.



KodiacZiller
Premium
join:2008-09-04
73368
kudos:2
reply to anony101

said by anony101 :

I don't understand how is it possible to find out the exact person who did that?
Moreover they can find the ip but if we are making comments from different places then how is it possible?
Can anyone explain?
It's a bit more involved than that as it requires cooperation between lawyer, judge and local law enforcement. But here goes. With proof of offence go to judge first and get subpoenas. With subpoenas get the IP addresses of the posters from the company which runs the forum. Then you find out what ISP the IP addresses belong to by using one of the whois databases. With subpoenas and IP address list get ISP to reveal poster identities. Of course company lawyers are expected and do put up a fight.
It's even more complicated than that. As has already been covered in this thread, an IP address is not a fool proof "identifier" of an individual.


FunnyBones
Premium
join:2004-01-22
usa
kudos:1
reply to AVD

said by AVD:

While I agree that you should be responsible for what you say, whether in "real life" or online, look at this similar case where the subpoenas were squashed on appeal.

»www.infomercialscams.com/video_professor.htm

I only make statements of fact when I have proof and if I am stating opinion I say so. Also I always assume someone is innocent unless proven guilty.

As long as there is a subpoenas are signed by a judge, the isps and website will reveal the info.
Only problem is don't work that way anymore it is now more like guilty until proven innocent.
--
Fb:2009 The nightmare men have returned.


DrStrange
Technically feasible
Premium
join:2001-07-23
West Hartford, CT
kudos:1
reply to AVD

These cases aren't similar.

One involves a consumer complaint board where customers of a business related their [presumably real] negative experiences with a business. The other involves a local news commentary forum where one or more individuals engaged in a campaign of obscene and libellous commentary about an individual.

To my mind [again, I'm not a lawyer], the former is not actionable while the latter clearly is. I'm not surprised that the subpoena in the Video Professor case was quashed. If there were a reasonable suspicion that the posters to the complaints forum were making false statements, then it might have held up.

See a discussion of Federal case law on this subject here:
»cyber.law.harvard.edu/stjohns/anon-net.html



swhx7
Premium
join:2006-07-23
Elbonia

1 recommendation

reply to FunnyBones

The First Amendment is implicated in these cases even if it's all private parties: if someone is looking to the judicial system for redress, that's government involvement, which is subject to the Constitution. But there is no violation of the defendant's rights if there really is a good case for libel or slander.

The U.S. has very good libel and slander laws: unlike in some other countries, truth is a complete defense, opinion is protected, only individuals can be plaintiffs, and the burden of proof is allocated fairly.

said by tomazyk:

My thoughts exactly. If person is writing something on forum that (s)he would not dare to tell it somebody in the face, then (s)he "hides" behind the internet.

"Hiding" behind semi-anonymity online can be good or bad. It's bad when the posting is false accusations, trolling or other dishonorable material. It's good when the poster is evading an oppressive government, official censorship, or other unjust persecution or retaliation.


AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

said by swhx7:


"Hiding" behind semi-anonymity online can be good or bad. It's bad when the posting is false accusations, trolling or other dishonorable material. It's good when the poster is evading an oppressive government, official censorship, or other unjust persecution or retaliation.
Not just against government actions, but also against an employer or other party.

Robdale

join:2009-01-23
Wingett Run, OH
reply to KodiacZiller

Thanks Kodiac, for clearing my doubt.



anony101

@comcast.net
reply to KodiacZiller

It's even more complicated than that. As has already been covered in this thread, an IP address is not a fool proof "identifier" of an individual.
No one said it was full proof but that's how lawyers identify people.

There have been people in the past who were identified by IP and accused of breaking the law only to later find out that the IP in question had been re-assigned to someone new. So yes there is a lot of room for mistakes and the law as a result is evolving to fit the times.


FunnyBones
Premium
join:2004-01-22
usa
kudos:1

said by anony101 :

It's even more complicated than that. As has already been covered in this thread, an IP address is not a fool proof "identifier" of an individual.
No one said it was full proof but that's how lawyers identify people.

There have been people in the past who were identified by IP and accused of breaking the law only to later find out that the IP in question had been re-assigned to someone new. So yes there is a lot of room for mistakes and the law as a result is evolving to fit the times.
Yes they can tell who you are from your ip as I'm sure some will remember the boy who committed suicide on camera. Most people forget about things like the yahoo web beacons and hulu beacons and plenty of other examples of how you leave a footprint and I'm sure if you check your bbr settings you can find your ip address over to the left and if someone were to hack your account you would know what ip address they were using at least.

»abcnews.go.com/technology/mindmo···6&page=1
--
Fb:2009 The nightmare men have returned.


Smokey Bear
veritas odium parit
Premium
join:2008-03-15
Annie's Pub
kudos:4
reply to nwrickert

said by nwrickert:

What you have mainly seen is private site owners exercising their rights to control their own sites. That's not censorship, that's editorial discretion.
Agree 100% (but maybe I am biased... )
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Smokey's Security Forums »www.smokey-services.eu/forum/
Smokey's Security Weblog »smokeys.wordpress.com/
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