Centre for Communication Governance at NLU delhi
Defamation and Anonymous Speech

Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky, Silencing John Doe: Defamation and Discourse in Cyberspace, 49(4) Duke Law Journal (2000)

This article deals with defamation actions brought against John Doe defendants for anonymous speech on the Internet. These actions, sometimes denoted as cyber-slapps, threaten to chill the vitality of Internet discourse. This Article articulates a theory that justifies protecting John Doe from the silencing effect of unfounded defamation actions and suggests steps that courts should take to adapt the First Amendment privilege for opinion to the unique context of cyberspace.

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Ryan M. Martin, Freezing the Net: Rejecting a One-Size-Fits-All Standard for Unmasking Anonymous Internet Speakers in Defamation Lawsuits, 75 University of Cincinnati Law Review 1217 (2007) [Restricted Access]

This Article argues that, in defamation actions involving anonymous political speech, plaintiffs should not be able to learn the identity of John Doe defendants unless plaintiffs can meet the summary judgment standard and show that the defamatory language at issue was of such an egregious nature that the plaintiff is likely to be able to show actual malice at trial.

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Eric P. Lewis, Unmasking “Anon12345”: Applying an Appropriate Standard when Private Citizens seek the Identity of Anonymous Internet Defamation Defendants, 3 University of Illinois Law Review 957 (2009)

The article analyses the standards used by the Courts to determine when it is appropriate to unmask an anonymous Internet defamation defendant. It examines the manner in which each approach to unmasking anonymous Internet defamation defendants strikes a balance between the First Amendment’s protection of anonymous speech and laws that prohibit defamation. The article then recommends that the standards for unmasking anonymous Internet defendants should be tiered according to whether the plaintiff is a public figure, a corporate entity, or a private individual.

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