Anonymous bloggers not always protected
Earlier this week, the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion resulting from a case where Amway-successor Quixtar, Inc. had sued it competitor Signature Management TEAM, LLC (“TEAM”) for allegedly carrying out an “Internet smear campaign” to induce Quixtar’s independent business owners to terminate their contracts with Quixtar and instead join a competing multilevel marketing company affiliated with TEAM. In re. Anonymous Online Speakers, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 14166 (9th Cir. Nev. July 12, 2010)
The alleged “Internet smear campaign” included a set of anonymous blogs of both text and video postings. At the lower court, during discovery, Quixtar obtained a court order compelling TEAM to identify the anonymous bloggers. TEAM, arguing that the anonymous bloggers were protected by the First Amendment, appealed the order to the Ninth Circuit. In response, Quixtar cross-petitioned the Court to order a TEAM employee to reveal the bloggers’ identity.
In the end, the Ninth Circuit held that the bloggers’ identity was not protected from the discovery process.