Thursday, October 06, 2005

Delaware Supreme Court Protects Bloggers

In a great decision for bloggers, the Delaware Supreme Court decided to protect an anonymous blogger's identity, reports the Wilmington News Journal .

I'm scouring the web for a copy of this late breaking opinion *** see below ***. It is reported to require a fairly high burden of the plaintiff in a defamation suit before he has the right to demand the identity of an anonymous blogger.

This doesn't mean that people can go out and defame persons on the internet with immunity. But it does support the proposition that anonymous political free speech is still a right, and a right that will be protected.

So when does free speech cross the line and become defamatory?

Here's the answer provided by Duke Law & Technology Review:

Although defamation in the United States has changed substantially over the years, it is now fairly well-established. For today?s plaintiff to prevail in a defamation action, he must prove publication of the defamatory statement, identification of the plaintiff, falsity, defamatory content, injury and fault.12 If the plaintiff is a public official or public figure and the subject matter is a matter of public concern, or if the plaintiff is a private individual seeking punitive damages for a statement involving a matter of public concern, he must prove actual malice to establish the fault element.13 Otherwise, states are free to establish their own fault standards for recovery.

Addendum: The winning attorney, David L. Finger, Esquire, was kind enough to supply me with a copy of the Court's Decision. (beware, its 33 pages of pdf)

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