Technology and Business Law Blog

Online Anonymity and Defamation

A Maryland Circuit Court has ordered a newspaper company that owns a website in which a defamatory statement was posted about a business, to reveal the identity of the person who made the statement. Read here.

The U.S Supreme Court has upheld the right to anonymous¬† political speech under the First Amendment. The judge of the Maryland Circuit Court has sent the message that free speech is fine but will not tolerate defamation. There is a delicate balance between defamation and free speech. In defamation law suits courts balance reputation against free speech. If a defamatory statement about an individuals business is made, as it was in this case the business which was a donut shop was described as one “of the most dirty and unsanitary-looking food-service places I have seen,”then the statement will fall under the category of trade libel and it will be actionable. In a trade libel, the economic interests of the business owner has to be affected and the person making the defamatory statement must have made the statements with reckless disregard of whether the statement was true or false.

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December 13, 2008 - Posted by | Defamation, Free Speech, On-line world

1 Comment »

  1. Hi Sujatha,

    I tried contacting you about a contract issue at : sujatha@techbizlawfirm.com
    But this email id bounces back. Can I have your contact email id ?

    Thanks,
    Manish

    Comment by Manish | December 31, 2008 | Reply


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