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The Courts Your Rights Online

UK Court Order Served Over Twitter, To Anonymous User Posing As Another 205

Posted by timothy
from the summon-our-powers-of-indignation dept.
SpuriousLogic spotted this story on the BBC, from which he excerpts: "The High Court has given permission for an injunction to be served via social-networking site Twitter. The order is to be served against an unknown Twitter user who anonymously posts to the site using the same name as a right-wing political blogger. The order demands the anonymous Twitter user reveal their identity and stop posing as Donal Blaney, who blogs at a site called Blaney's Blarney. The order says the Twitter user is breaching the copyright of Mr. Blaney. He told BBC News that the content being posted to Twitter in his name was 'mildly objectionable.' Mr. Blaney turned to Twitter to serve the injunction rather than go through the potentially lengthy process of contacting Twitter headquarters in California and asking it to deal with the matter. UK law states that an injunction does not have to be served in person and can be delivered by several different means including fax or e-mail."
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UK Court Order Served Over Twitter, To Anonymous User Posing As Another

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  • by seifried (12921) on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:26AM (#29614287) Homepage
    So what about all the other Mr. Blaney's? Or am I missing something about specifically what copyrighted material is being infringed?
    • by QuantumG (50515) *

      You're missing that you can sue anyone for anything and they have to show up, no matter how stupid the claims.

      Thankfully some courts don't like this stuff and hand out stiff penalties for it.

    • by ldrydenb (1316047) on Friday October 02, 2009 @04:20AM (#29614687)

      The twitter account in question is @blaneysblarney, which is the name of Mr Blaney's blog. The account photo is copied from Mr Blaney's blog. The first post of @blaneysblarney says "Comrades, I thought I would set up a more political twitter and keep my other twitter account for more personal stuff."

      So it seems he's trying to prevent someone using his photo and the name of his blog to pass off their words as his. I'm guessing he's asserting copyright on his photo and the name of his blog, which seems reasonable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Homburg (213427)

        The copyright assertion on the photo makes sense, but name of the blog can't be copyrighted. It's possible that he's claiming the name of his blog as a trademark, or, under the UK law for unregistered trademarks, "passing off." I would have thought you would have to actually be engaging in trade to make such a claim, and I don't think a blog qualifies; but I may be wrong about UK trademark law.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by ldrydenb (1316047)

          As soon as I posted, I realised that I'd probably overstated by mentioning copyright on the name of the blog ... and just knew that would be the subject of the first reply: geeks will be geeks ;-)

  • by Majik Sheff (930627) on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:30AM (#29614303) Journal

    claiming to be this guy in various contexts. Streisand effect here we come.

  • by Seriousity (1441391) <Seriousity AT live DOT com> on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:33AM (#29614321)
    Time for me to delete my social networking accounts methinks, it's lost all the glitter and sparkle as my eyes have been gradually opened to the loss of privacy they effect and the risk of identity theft they engender. I've watched facebook degenerate into an oozing fest of self indulgence and crappy quizzes about peoples aura/star sign/some other mystic crap or how good they are in bed, and too many of my friends now use it to grandly announce every mundane detail of their life to the world as if they're some sort of celebrity and we're all supposed to be deeply concerned about them cutting their pinky finger or enraptured by their new haircut, etc etc. A friend related similar sentiments to me earlier today, saying people were using it as if it were twitter.

    What concerns me the most is the loss of privacy entailed in having an account with any of these sites, knowing that cops and employers can pull up all this info instantly... it's a worry. Enough ranting for me, I'm going to delete my facebook account and my twitter account (which I created once and used never :P)
    • by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:57AM (#29614421) Journal

      Time for me to delete my social networking accounts methinks

      You can't. It's cursed.

      I mean, do you honestly believe you are allowed to do that in the first place? As today's business best practice is to bury terms like "we retain the right of owing your data for as long as we are pleased, even if after you 'delete' your account" in the crap known as "the License Agreement", prepare to fight through legal obstacles and win a Pyrrhic victory at the cost of a kidney and a liver before you can really delete all your social-networking accounts, if for some reason you can win at all.

      • by selven (1556643)
        Information that's out there is out there, you can't change that. But you can do stop putting new things on there.
      • by bonhomme_de_neige (711691) on Friday October 02, 2009 @06:25AM (#29615035) Homepage

        Don't delete them. Instead, open hundreds or even thousands of accounts in your own name, all with bogus and different info. Write a little script to randomly trawl other people's accounts for messages/photos/etc and copy them at random to your own hundreds of accounts, as if they were real postings. Noone would know the difference. Then if your employer/the police/whoever tried to dig up any dirt on you, it would be buried among such a volume of spam that finding it would be a Herculean task.

        No doubt the social networking sites would try to shut you down somehow, but surely on Slashdot noone has to explain how to cover your tracks well enough to make it unreasonably difficult for them.

        And best of all - Facebook and Twitter can keep reporting in the press "Look, our membership base is growing by a x million accounts a day! At this rate, we will have more subscriptions than there are people on the planet in just a few months! Advertisers flock to us!" ... everyone wins!

        • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday October 02, 2009 @10:35AM (#29616639) Homepage Journal

          Noone would know the difference. on Slashdot noone has to explain

          I can't find that word in the dictionary. Is it pronounced "noon" or "noonie"? And what, exactly, does it mean? I tried to look it up on Google but it said "do you mean no one?" so I'm still clueless. Sorry my literacy is so low...

          • by melikamp (631205)

            I can't find that word in the dictionary.

            You are using a shitty dictionary. Try wiktionary [wiktionary.org].

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Kamineko (851857)

            Noone? He's a detective.

            No matter how hard you try to hide your information, Noone will find out. That's because Noone cares.

            Who is 'Anonymous'? Noone knows his name. Noone knows where he lives. Noone can destroy him.

            When you're in deep trouble, Noone can save you. Trust Noone.

    • by z0idberg (888892) on Friday October 02, 2009 @03:10AM (#29614459)

      too many of my friends now use it to grandly announce every mundane detail of their life to the world

      Would you consider their decision to delete their social networking sites a mundane details of their life? and the fact that they only ever used these once? I would. Just sayin'

      • Atleast he said it articulately...
        "Time for me to delete my social networking accounts methinks, it's lost all the glitter and sparkle as my eyes have been gradually opened to"

        Probably wouldn't have cut it. Oh well its not like language served any purpose or conveyed subtlety, lets all switch to point form with mangled words.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by draco664 (960985)

      I've watched facebook degenerate into an oozing fest of self indulgence and crappy quizzes about peoples aura/star sign/some other mystic crap or how good they are in bed, and too many of my friends now use it to grandly announce every mundane detail of their life to the world as if they're some sort of celebrity and we're all supposed to be deeply concerned about them cutting their pinky finger or enraptured by their new haircut, etc etc.

      A great many people think that their lives are far more important and eventful than those of others, without making the mental leap to realise that other people think the same about their own.

      • by TheLink (130905)
        But it is indeed more important to the person that's experiencing it. We're not a Borg. You feed your stomach first...

        I don't know why he's making such a fuss about it all, he doesn't have to read all of it. OK the quizzes are a bit of a spam problem since facebook treats each of them differently so you can't just exclude them all in one go.

        But I think it's a bit like sitting in the same room as friends who are going "Ouch, I just cut my pinky", or "Yay I just got a new haircut", if you're not willing to ig
        • by asdf7890 (1518587)

          I don't know why he's making such a fuss about it all, he doesn't have to read all of it. OK the quizzes are a bit of a spam problem since facebook treats each of them differently so you can't just exclude them all in one go.

          http://lite.facebook.com/ - not one single silly application, no quizzes, nothing. Not even updates on how my cousin's pretend farm is doing. Just the humorous shit (and the mundane shit, but sometimes it is actually nice to see people's mundane thoughts if only as evidence that they are still alive) that we post as messages/photos/videos.

          I no longer log into the full-fat version now.

        • "We're not a Borg."

          Assimilation of this unit must be completed soon - such heresy must not be allowed to spread.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by argent (18001)

      Time for me to delete my social networking accounts methinks, it's lost all the glitter and sparkle

      It ever had any?

    • by Jeian (409916)
      too many of my friends now use it to grandly announce every mundane detail of their life to the world as if they're some sort of celebrity and we're all supposed to be deeply concerned about them cutting their pinky finger or enraptured by their new haircut, etc etc.

      Don't know about you, but I'm actually interested in what's going on in my friends' lives.
      • by mftb (1522365)

        Don't be ridiculous. Nobody on slashdot has friends.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Lumpy4: I need to poop...
        Lumpy4: Whew! that was stinky....
        Lumpy4: Lunch, time for tacos!
        Lumpy4: I hate it here...
        Lumpy4: I need to poop again, dang tacos!

        Yeah, if you are interested in what's going on in many of my friends lives, which mirrors the above quite a bit....

        then you really need to get a life.

        I silenced most of my friends feeds. I don't want to hear what you are eating, what you are listening to, when you are pooping, etc...

        yet a huge number of them think they need to do that.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          i need to get a life? bro it sounds like you and your friends need to get some lives i mean fuck facebook isnt supposed to be life its supposed to supplement life to make it easier like knowing when to meet up with people and whats going on but i guess that concept is too foreign to /.ers who just cant get their heads out of their asses that a real world exists off of the computer and people who partake in it like using technology to assist them

          seriously /. is full of luddites and everyone who says "im c
    • by gsslay (807818) on Friday October 02, 2009 @05:20AM (#29614861)

      Time for me to delete my social networking accounts methinks

      too many of my friends now use it to grandly announce every mundane detail of their life to the world

      Mmmmmm, delicious irony.

  • Jurisdiction? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bogidu (300637) on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:33AM (#29614323)

    IANAL, but if the person in question is not a UK citizen, does the UK law, which says the injunction can be sent by fax or email, apply?

    • Re:Jurisdiction? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wizard Drongo (712526) <(wizard_drongo) (at) (yahoo.co.uk)> on Friday October 02, 2009 @03:05AM (#29614455)
      Oh, you can deliver an injunction anywhere. Hell, if they were on the Moon, as long as they can receive it, you can deliver it. The correct question here is "if they're not in the UK, is there anything stopping them from just completely ignoring it?" and the answer would be "no". Of course, you next recourse then would be to either attempt to get the criminal courts involved, so you can have them extradited (doubtful in this case;the courts are rightly leery of getting involved in civil actions like this), or you go to the country they're in (e.g. the US) and get a judgement against them there, which depending on the locale can be easy or hard. In the EU, the court would be likely to take the UK's court decision into consideration, likewise the US, Canada and other commonwealth nations. China or Nigeria etc., not so much.
      • by Malc (1751)

        Yes, aren't there treaties between some of these countries that mean decisions made in one country's courts are recognised in another's? So an ex-wife who sues successfully for support in an a Canadian court could expect a British court to uphold and impose the conditions on the ex-husband if he moves to the UK after the divorce. I have no idea of the legal terms, etc, etc, or even if it's the same context ;)

      • Chicken and the Egg problem. If the country the person is in values privacy couldn't it be illegal to find the persons IP? If so then you can't know what country they are in and can't expect them to follow the injunction. There only needs to be one country to think this way for it to screw the whole system.
      • by meerling (1487879)
        "Oh, you can deliver an injunction anywhere...." I think it might be a little more correct to say that you can SEND an injunction anywhere, delivery assumes it's been received. That's the problem with dumping official stuff on blogs or twitters, you have no idea if the intended recipient ever got it.

        It's kind of like when the UPS dumped a new computer I'd ordered somewhere near the house, I never got it. 3 weeks later I got a brand new computer, and UPS not only payed the bill, but this time they actually
    • IANAL, but if the person in question is not a UK citizen, does the UK law, which says the injunction can be sent by fax or email, apply?

      See http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2008/07/15/censored-by-money/ [monbiot.com]

  • by syousef (465911) on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:34AM (#29614329) Journal

    Three cheers for finally serving a court order against that anonymous coward bastard. He's always cluttering up slashdot with horse porn stories, trolling posts and all sorts of objectionable and inflamatory shite. Maybe now the Internet-web-thingie will be easy to use and headache free and we'll only ever have truth posted! Yay!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah!

    • by Psyborgue (699890) on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:57AM (#29614419) Homepage Journal
      Actually, "Anonymous coward" is exactly the term the real Blarney actually used on his blog [blogspot.com], writing "I successfully obtained, thanks to the masterful advocacy of Matthew Richardson, in the High Court today compelling an anonymous coward to stop pretending to be me on Twitter and to reveal his or her identity.".
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Actually, "Anonymous coward" is exactly the term the real Blarney actually used on his blog [blogspot.com], writing "I successfully obtained, thanks to the masterful advocacy of Matthew Richardson, in the High Court today compelling an anonymous coward to stop pretending to be me on Twitter and to reveal his or her identity.".

        But, then, wasn't this guy pretending to be me?

        • by Psyborgue (699890)
          Good point. Maybe you can get some crack smoking judge to write and injunction on your behalf against him. Has about as much merit.
      • by Alex Belits (437) *

        He was supposed to complain about Anonymous [wikipedia.org], not Anonymous Coward [wikipedia.org].

        Well, at least he didn't redirect his wrath toward Ebaum's World.

  • Pinocchio and Rumplestilskin are said to be quaking in their boots.

    In all honesty if you can't be bothered going through the motion of finding out who this anonymous poster is, what are the chances that there will be any consequences to face if he doesn't abide by the order? This seems like a waste of court time and money. But it doesn't surprise me. We don't have one sane legal system on the planet that isn't steeped in medieval nonsense. Well at least we've gotten over trying donkeys for adultery.

    http://e [wikipedia.org]

  • Disclaimer : IANAL , But I'm smarter than some so called legal professionals who put disclaimers at the end of the text NOT the beginning - duh!

    I believe its a discretionary power of the court and as such is done by application typically with supporting evidence that normal methods have been tried without success or that they are less applicable due to the location of party.
    (I had occasion to help provide the supporting evidence which led to such a succesful application)

  • "The order demands the anonymous Twitter user reveal their identity and stop posing as Donal Blaney, who blogs at a site called Blaney's Blarney." it turns out the Anonymous poster was named Donal Blaney. Well then his copy write to the name is nothing more then toilet paper to said person
  • by feedayeen (1322473) on Friday October 02, 2009 @02:47AM (#29614381)
    What if Donal Blaney is his real name? Or better yet, since names can apparently be copywrited, what if the Twitter Donal Blaney is older than the Donal Blaney at Blaney's Blarney? Can the Twitter Donal Blaney sue the other one to force him to change the name of his blog?
    • It depends. If you're the Barbie playboy twins, you're fine. They only had to show a copy of their birth certificate to Mattel, showing that their last name was indeed Barbie.

      If however, your name happens to be Toyota, you're basically fucked. It didn't matter in that case that the guy had that name since birth. The judge ruled against him. Sometimes, rulings can be pretty random.

      • by smoker2 (750216)
        Utter shite. TRADEMARK is the term, not copyright, and unless Mr Toyota was building cars then he doesn't have to do anything.
  • by Derosian (943622) on Friday October 02, 2009 @03:03AM (#29614443) Homepage Journal
    His blog. http://donalblaney.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

    Now go comment internet and Donal. May anonymous never find offense with what you are doing, or this might just be throwing water onto scalding oil.
    • by Jaysyn (203771)

      Throwing water onto sulfur may be a better analogy if anonymous gets involved. :D

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Friday October 02, 2009 @03:03AM (#29614445)
    ... enforcing is another.

    If the target of this injunction is anonymous, how can the writ be enforced? If he (or she) decides to ignore it, there seems very little that the server can do. It sounds to me like there is a good chance that the law will be shown to be an ass in this case.

  • by DonalBlaney (1648379) on Friday October 02, 2009 @03:13AM (#29614473)

    Stop posting as me,

    I'll sue!!!!

    you have been warned

  • Um, 2 things:
    1. If he's posting anonymously, how is he using a name (I've quite possibly missed something, being as it is that I don't use twitter)?
    2. More importantly, what if said anonymous person has the same name as Donal Blaney?

    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

      ..and the same photograph?

      I doubt the case would even have got this far if he wasn't deliberately trying to pass himself off as the other Donal Blaney. His real name is irrelevant.

      • by melikamp (631205)

        ..and the same photograph?

        He may be the long-lost identical twin who happens to have the same name. But then, he probably deserves to be sued because one of the twins is usually evil.

  • What's stopping me from mailing, twittering and faxing a few million people injunctions? I could try to get 1/3rd of London to show up to the courts one day. Either injunctions have some legal power/meaning or it is just an angry letter that is meaningless ("I'm gunna sue you!"). If it does have any meaning in the UK legal system then it is very easily abused. ACs here on /. could reply to this post with an injunction and I'd be legally obligated to do something.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Homburg (213427)

      What's stopping me from mailing, twittering and faxing a few million people injunctions?

      The same thing that's stopping you from sentencing a million people to 20 years in jail. Only a court can issue an injunction.

      • How is that informative?

        What, does the court have some sort of special bits? If the court sends an injunction over twitter it wouldn't look any different than if I did. In fact it would be 100% indistinguishable. Probably the same with e-mail, perhaps not fax. If I can't be reasonably assured it is a legitimate source when it is then any random idiot could make a convincing fake.
        • I imagine that upon receiving such an injunction, you could (if you were concerned) contact the court and verify its legitimacy.

          If you decided to ignore it because it didn't even have your name on it, that would be another matter.

          • by Skapare (16644)

            What if the REAL one is only the 51738th such order received, and the recipient had given up checking them all with the court after the first dozen or so?

  • publicity stunt (Score:5, Informative)

    by jipn4 (1367823) on Friday October 02, 2009 @05:24AM (#29614873)

    The law firm serving the order is Blaney's own law firm. The whole thing sounds like a publicity stunt. The reason Blaney isn't serving the order in California is because it would be worthless: you can't copyright a name, and people have a right to anonymous free speech and satire. For an anonymous author to use a slightly offensive variation of Blaney's name to make fun of him and his positions is precisely what US free speech laws are about.

  • (or however you would say that in the British language when you have one of those silly wigs on) ... my client was unable to receive the order because his twitter account [twitter.com] was being spammed by tens of thousands of ... (mumbling: what are these called) ... tweets ... per minute from a bunch of ... (mumbling: what were those people from that nerdy website) ... uh ... slashdotters. It seems it had something to do with Ms. Steisand but I'm not sure how she fits into this. Nevertheless, it was entirely impossib

  • The real question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday October 02, 2009 @09:25AM (#29615847)

    How many tweets does it take to serve an injunction? Breaking down legal verbiage into 140 character chunks must be a job in itself.

  • UK Court Order Served Over Twitter, To Anonymous User Posing As Another

    Why would they care if one Anonymous User posed as another Anonymous User?

    Also, I am the real Anonymous Coward. All you posers beware... I will sue.

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