Category Archives: Communications Law

California Court May Order a Blog to Reveal the Identity of an Anonymous Commenter

This week the Sacramento Bee reported that a California judge ruled that a litigant may learn the identity of a person who posts an anonymous comment on a blog.

In the case Calvin Chang, a police officer for the University of California in Davis filed suit against UC, claiming discrimination and breach of a settlement agreement in a prior lawsuit. David Greenwald, who operates a blog called The People’s Vanguard of Davis, wrote about the suit and people commented. Chang believes that one anonymous comment was written by a ‘managing agents’ of the university and contained information that would violate the agreement of the prior settlement agreement.

The California judge ruled that Chang can hire a third-party to investigate whether the author of the comment was a manging agent. If it was the court would allow Chang to request that Google, the Vanguard’s former host, provide him with the anonymous poster’s e-mail addresses and log-in information.

The Sacramento Bee also reported that the judge ruled that the First Amendment generally protects anonymous speech, but online anonymity may be breached. "When vigorous criticism descends into defamation, constitutional protection is no longer available."

Read more about the case in the Chronicle of Higher Education, provide through the library’s subscription.

YouTube to De-Identify Data Intended For Viacom in Copyright Infringement Suit

Video-sharing Web site YouTube agreed July 14 to substitute non-identifying values for information intended for release to Viacom International Inc., such as how many times each video has been viewed and the user name and Internet Protocol address of every viewer, in a stipulation signed by the parties and handed up July 15 to Judge Louis L. Stanton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
Viacom International Inc. v. YouTube Inc., S.D.N.Y., No. 07-cv-2103, stipulation agreed to by parties 7/14/08).

Read more through the Law Library’s BNA subscription.

Copyright Royalty Board Issues Notices of Proceeding, Comments, and Settlement

In three notices published Jan. 30 in the Federal Register, the Copyright Royalty Board announced the initiation of a proceeding on cable royalty distribution, requested comments related to satellite royalties, and announced a settlement regarding 2005 cable royalties (73 Fed. Reg, 5,596, 1/30/08; 73 Fed. Reg. 5,597, 1/30/08; and 73 Fed. Reg. 5,597, 1/30/08).

Quoting from BNA’s Patent, Trademark & Copyright Law Daily – available through the Library’s online databases.

Specter Introduces Bill to Allow Super Bowl Viewing in Churches

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) Feb. 4 introduced a bill (S. 2591) that would allow churches to show professional football game broadcasts such as the Super Bowl to their parishioners without infringing the National Football League’s copyrights. The broadcasts would be permitted so long as the church does not charge a fee, and the broadcast is live.

Quoting from BNA’s Patent, Trademark & Copyright Law Daily – available through the Library’s online databases.