Saturday, October 08, 2005

Delaware Supreme Ct: Blogs not a source of facts on which a reasonable person would rely

In JOHN DOE NO. 1 v. CAHILL, 2005 Del. LEXIS 381, concerning subpoenas of anonymous posters, the Delaware Supreme Court made use of a holding in New Jersey, Dendrite Intl., Inc. v. Doe, 342 N.J. Super. 134; 775 A.2d 756 (opinion by FALL, J.A.D)

The Delaware Supreme Court did not have much to say for the accuracy of bloggers:

Ranked in terms of reliability, there is a spectrum of sources on
the internet. For example, chat rooms and blogs are generally not as
reliable as the Wall Street Journal Online. n60 Blogs and chat rooms tend to be vehicles for the expression of opinions; by their very nature, they are not a source of facts or data upon which a reasonable person would rely. At least three courts have recently made this observation.

A reasonable reader would not view the blanket, unexplained statements at issue as "facts" when placed on such an open and uncontrolled forum.

Apart from the editorial page, a reasonable person reading a
newspaper in print or online, for example, can assume that the statements are factually based and researched. This is not the case when the statements are made on blogs or in chat rooms.
[Hmmm, not the case for law reviews either...., see Harvard Law Review or Boston University Law Review]

The Delaware Supreme Court ruled that a plaintiff must satisfy a summary judgment standard before obtaining the identity of an anonymous defendant. This was a case of first impression before any state supreme court. In the past, this issue has most frequently been presented in cases where publicly traded companies have sued anonymous internet posters for statements that allegedly defamed those companies.


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