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Model Drops Lawsuit After Outing Anonymous Blogger 476

JumperCable writes "The NY Daily News is reporting that model Liskula Cohen, who was suing the 'Skanks of NYC' blogger for defamation, is dropping the lawsuit now that she has outed the anonymous blogger, who is a Fashion Institute of Technology student named Rosemary Port. This brings up the question of potential abuse of the legal system to 'out' anonymous authors even if there is no intention actually to pursue a case against an anonymous individual. Also, according to the article, the outed blogger intends to sue Google for $15 million because it 'breached its fiduciary duty to protect her expectation of anonymity.' Do Web hosting services even have a fiduciary duty to protect their clients, or is this all legal bluff and bluster?" Should such anonymity-busting court rulings include a provision for penalties if the plaintiff does not follow through with legal action after outing their target?
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Model Drops Lawsuit After Outing Anonymous Blogger

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:13AM (#29171529)

    Liskula Cohen is a skank and a ho. For that matter, so is Rosemary Port.

    • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:21AM (#29171593)

      Liskula Cohen is a skank and a ho. For that matter, so is Rosemary Port.

      I hope nobody returns to slashdot after a long leave and starts by reading that post.

      If it end up having a (+5 interesting) or somesuch, the scream of pure nerdrage would tear the spacetime continuum.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Great, now you're going to sue Cowboy Neal!

  • Fiduciary duty? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mikkeles ( 698461 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:16AM (#29171547)

    Maybe, it depends on the local laws and the TOS. But they should have such. However, this release was due to a court order.

    • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:23AM (#29171613) Homepage Journal []

      Seen the fall out from Lori Drew case? Cause emotional distress to a minor and your violating the law. Granted the example cited on volokh is downright not nice but some of the clauses, like four and six, are so vague as to play into any prosecutor's hands.

      Lori Drew stories on /. include [] []

      • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:43AM (#29173085)
        That's not a fair comparison at all, unless I missed the part where the plaintiff committed suicide. This sort of shoddy reasoning is exactly why things are going to hell. Additionally being anonymous is different than pretending to be a real person that isn't you and using that deception to willfully inflict harm on others.

        In fact I'm not sure that there really is anything at all in common to there besides the net and attorneys.
        • Maybe you should have read the links before commenting. The cited clauses (4 and 6) are:

          1. A person commits the crime of harassment if he or she: ...

          (3) Knowingly ... causes emotional distress to another person by anonymously making ... any electronic communication; or

          (4) Knowingly communicates with another person who is ... seventeen years of age or younger and in so doing and without good cause recklessly ... causes emotional distress to such other person; or ...

          (6) Without good cause engages in any other act with the purpose to ... cause emotional distress to another person, cause such person to be ... emotionally distressed, and such person's response to the act is one of a person of average sensibilities considering the age of such person.

          So, while the cases are not exactly the same, my reading of this definition of what is sufficient to claim harassment is pretty broad (as was stated) and might be said to fit. So actually, its so relevant, that I wouldn't be shocked if the original suit cited this case directly.


    • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:37AM (#29173715) Homepage Journal

      John Doe subpoenas should result in the name being released to either a special master or to a "firewalled" lawyer whose only job it is is to contact the named defendant and serve him with papers. The named defendant should be given an opportunity to either quash the original subpoena after the fact or petition the court that the lawsuit will be in to be allowed to use a pseudonym.

      If there is no forthcoming lawsuit, the would-be plaintiff never gets "usable" access to the defendant's information.

      If this can't happen for whatever reason, the court issuing the subpoena to the ISP should issue a gag order on the plaintiff, which can be lifted after a lawsuit is actually filed. The lawsuit should be filed with the defendant's name sealed until it's determined that it's in the public interest to name the person.

  • by Cragen ( 697038 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:19AM (#29171569)
    Sorry. "Expectation of anonymity"? Where did that come from? I don't think anyone should ever expect anonymity. In fact, I am becoming more in favor of making everyone use their real name, all the time, to lessen the ridiculous-ness, the hateful content, the juvenile, spiteful posts, that we regularly see on forums. In RL, there is no anonymity. Every action has a reaction. Maybe more people need to learn that.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:21AM (#29171595) Homepage

      In RL, there is no anonymity


      • by MindKata ( 957167 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:52AM (#29171895) Journal
        "I don't think anyone should ever expect anonymity" and "British"

        With a foolish attitude like that, they should try to get a job with the British Government.

        Anonymity is almost a form of protection, however its *never* perfect protection. Anonymity is a poor man's protection in an imperfect world, but some small amount of poor protection is still better than no protection.

        Its a fact of life not everyone in the world can be trusted, so all of us choose to hide some information. Therefore any attempt by governments to imply "if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide" (tm) is simply part of government (and business) PR manipulation tactics to fool the masses into docile acquiescence. Knowledge is power so all of us have to be careful leaking all knowledge about ourselves. Plus all governments want more power (its why each politician got into that job in the first place, they want the power to rule and control others so they can ultimately personally gain from having that power over others, and its also why they always want ever more of everyones information because it gives them ever more power. Knowledge is power).

        As for this model, she is (like many models) very evidently a HPD (Histrionic Personality Disorder), and the one thing HPDs want above almost all else is ever more attention, which is exactly what this case is giving her.
        • by Cassius Corodes ( 1084513 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:20AM (#29172209)
          I think generally the powerful have more to gain from anonymity then the poor. If it was ever possible to air everyone's dirty laundry I think I would welcome it.
          • by Znork ( 31774 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:01AM (#29172643)

            I think generally the powerful have more to gain from anonymity then the poor.

            The rich and powerful may lose their positions, but the poor may lose their means of sustenance or face other, worse, forms of persecution.

            We might wish we had a world where nobody would have to fear persecution for their political views, their religion or their sexual preferences and one that would always remain so tolerant. But we don't. We might wish we'd have a world where all your friends, co workers and relatives would be happy to know your intimate details. But we don't. And while we might wish we could choose the beliefs and preferences of everyone we know and everyone we have to work with, the fact is, many can't.

            Some things we keep from people because those facets of ones life is none of their business. Sometimes to protect them, as not to offend them, sometimes to protect ourselves.

            If it was ever possible to air everyone's dirty laundry I think I would welcome it.

            Perhaps. A lot of deserving people would get what's coming to them. But so would a lot of undeserving ones.

            On balance I think it would harm more than help; the loss of free dialogue and speech from many who fear persecution would by far outweigh any gain of fewer hurt feelings by people who don't know how to ignore assholes.

          • Everybody has everything to lose without anonymity. The rich however, tend to be more noticeable before and after. The poor, well, who cares about what happens to random Joe Sixpack anyway?

            Everybody had dirty laundry. Nobody's so clean that they haven't even jaywalked. And there's plenty of "laws" that people break every day without even knowing there's even such a law. These are the ones that are leftovers from a different era, or were created just to keep lawmakers and law enforcement employed.

        • by AP31R0N ( 723649 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:16AM (#29172771)

          Anonymity is also a way to escape accountability for bad behavior, which is why most criminals wear gloves and masks and operate under cover of night. The opposite of this might be the military where everyone wears a name tag and is on their best behavior for the most part.

          i also think that the blogger as journalist idea needs to die a swift death. Journalists have to take ethics classes and are ACCOUNTABLE for their actions. If Dan Rather uses his powers for evil he can lose his job and be black balled out of the industry. The qualification for becoming a blogger is 'Do you has email account?'.

          2 GOTO 1

          Run this program until we all understand it.

          This blogger is just whining about being made accountable. If this model was doing something illegal, the blogger should have called the cops. Having an email account is not a good reason for defamation. Furthermore, the model is allowed to be a skank or ho, it's none of the blogger's business. And it sure as shit NOT ok to post that on the internet. She can whisper these catty opinions to her fellow ugly girls in the hallway, but not to post this on the net. Had the NYT posted this stuff, we wouldn't be questioning the model's right to sue for defamation.

          Hiding behind anonymity is fine for a whistle blower or a state's witness of a crime. This blogger just wanted to be a bitch and hid behind anonymity like a coward. The blogger KNEW what she was doing was wrong... that's why she tried to disassociate her offense from herself. This is a clear case of internet bravado and greater internet fuckwad theory. If she didn't have the berries to say this with her real name attached, or to the model's face, she shouldn't have said it. Dan Rather wouldn't have hidden. Hell, even Perez Hilton wouldn't.

          • by rho ( 6063 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:42AM (#29173071) Homepage Journal

            You can make up a Venn diagram if you want, but bloggers certainly can be journalists, and vice versa.

            "Journalist" is like "scientist". It's a method, not a certificate. A less well-defined process than science, but it's a lot like porn: you know journalism when you see it.

          • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:12AM (#29173427) Journal

            Had the NYT posted this stuff, we wouldn't be questioning the model's right to sue for defamation.

            Had the NYT posted this stuff, they would have written it in such a way that claims of defamation are impossible.
            All you have to do are insert some weasel words:
            My opinion, people say, I've heard, it's been said, she's been described as, etc etc etc.
            "I think Liskula Cohen is a skank and a ho" = free speech.

            • by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @01:10PM (#29174863)

              All you have to do are insert some weasel words

              Can we please stop repeating this? Adding "I think" to a statement of fact does not magically change the nature of the statement. Saying "I think Mr. Smith sells cocaine to school children" does not make you any less liable to a defamation lawsuit than saying "Mr. Smith sells cocaine to school children."

          • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:16AM (#29173461) Journal

            Journalism is dead. Long live Journalism.

            I don't trust professional journalists. Sorry, but too many "professional" journalists skew reporting to one side or another, all in the name of "ratings" or circulation or whatever is being measured.

            From NBC's exploding trucks, to Fox, to the latest MSNBC Gun toting white racist at Obama's rally in AZ who happens to be a black guy (carefully hidden by editing), I think is all crap.

            And just remember it wasn't professional journalists that exposed Dan Rather's famous expose on Bush, it was a BLOGGER! And remember, it was National Inquirer who reported on John Edwards Affair and bastard child, when nobody else would.

            That is not to say that bloggers or alternative news sources don't have their share of problems, because they do.

            The point being, get your reporting by several independent sources, and I mean INDEPENDENT. And just because it isn't "traditional" doesn't mean it is wrong.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by moeinvt ( 851793 )

            " . . .i also think that the blogger as journalist idea needs to die a swift death. Journalists have to take ethics classes and are ACCOUNTABLE for their actions."

            Oh really? I think the mainstream media needs to die a slow painful death. How many times have the so called "journalists" and "reporters" in the MSM gotten things absolutely and positively dead wrong? How often do they refrain from spinning the news for the benefit of themselves and their corporate masters? What stories do they choose to emph

    • by A. B3ttik ( 1344591 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:22AM (#29171609)
      It is possible that Google guarantees Anonymity when you register for a Blog. Maybe it says something along the lines of "Your private information will not be shared?" If so, while it may be stupid for them to advertise this, they still have to uphold their end of the bargain as best they can.
      • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <> on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:36AM (#29171745)

        You agree that Google may access or disclose your personal information, including the content of your communications, if Google is required to do so in order to comply with any valid legal process or governmental request (such as a search warrant, subpoena, statute or court order) or as otherwise provided in these Terms of Service and the general Google Privacy Policy.

        From the terms of service []. Seems pretty cut and dried to me.

        • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:40AM (#29171781) Journal

          This is pretty much the only post that needs to exist on the topic of the "outed" blogger's plans to sue Google.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by libkarl2 ( 1010619 )

          Google should not have complied. It should have fought back instead of folding like cheap lawn furniture. However, Google is like any other American corporation when it comes to deciding whether or not to set a very bad precedent: take the cheapest route and smoke pole like a Tijuana crack whore.

          What Liskula Cohen did was game the system for ego gratification. Pure and simple. Google could have spotted this (I'm sure they have *some* intellegent people working there). Hell in fact the Judge in this case cou

          • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <> on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:31AM (#29172325)

            Google should not have complied. It should have fought back instead of folding like cheap lawn furniture.

            This attitude is starting to get more prevelent, and its quite disheartening. Why should Google have to spend thousands of dollars in a legal defence of your actions? That sounds like a feeling of entitlement to me - 'protect me because I use your service!'

            Rosemary Port could have hired an attorney to make her defence to the court and made her own case to keep her identity a secret. Did she do that?

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Actually, she had a lawyer. Apparently, neither she nor the lawyer thought to make a motion that would protect her anonymity. Or, if they did think of it, the motion was thrown out.

              The fact of the matter is, the skanky ho shouldn't have made the blog posts if she wasn't willing to stand behind them. The skanky ho that she attacked was entirely within her rights to expose the blogger, and she was entirely within her rights to drop the case after she attained her goal.

              I'm all for anyonymity, but a moron wh

          • by joeyblades ( 785896 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:56AM (#29172579)

            Also... There's this thing called Barratry. Most of the US legal system has forgotten that it exists.

            Barratry refers to repeated harassment via the legal system. It does not apply in this case.

            The constitution protects free speech and it protects anonymity, but it does not guarantee anonymous free speech at the expense of the liberties of others.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Google should not have complied. It should have fought back instead of folding like cheap lawn furniture.

            "Legal defense" is not among the free-of-charge services Google offers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sjames ( 1099 )

          Agreed, Google couldn't be expected to defy a court order to protect a user's identity.

          The question is how did the press get the information. The court may have failed to appropriately restrict the further disclosure of the information. That still isn't Google's fault of course.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pjt33 ( 739471 )

        Blogger's privacy policy points to the general Google one, which says (snipped to the relevant stuff):

        Google only shares personal information with other companies or individuals outside of Google in the following limited circumstances:

        • <snip>
        • We have a good faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to (a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request, <snip>
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by maharb ( 1534501 )

        If the government asks for it, you give it, or have it taken.

    • by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:28AM (#29171669)

      "Expectation of anonymity"? Where did that come from?

      Even better, where did the idea come from that there's a "fiduciary duty" to protect anonymity? A fiduciary duty is to a shareholder, to maximise their return, or to a trustor, to correctly manage the entrusted property. Does Rosemary Port think that she gave her identity to Google to look after for her until she grew up?

    • by zwei2stein ( 782480 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:30AM (#29171689) Homepage

      So, what is YOUR real name and address?

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:32AM (#29171715) Journal
      Have you considered the expedient of ignoring posts without real names attached, rather than overhauling the treatment of anonymity and pseudoanonymity across the entire internet?

      You might find that a bit more practical.

      That aside, though, "in RL" there is often anonymity. People have been pamphleteering, often scurrilously, since the invention of the printing press. People have been writing things on walls since (approximately) the invention of walls. Heck, until comparatively recently, with the invention of modern recordkeeping and administration, anybody who went more than a few miles from where they habitually lived could claim to be just about anyone, with no way to check.

      The positive history of anonymity: whistleblowing, social support for certain stigmatized groups(alcoholics, homosexuals, low caste hindus, etc.), freedom from coercion by others in your life, and so forth; also bears mentioning.

      Sure, sometimes we have to deal with the greater internet fuckwad; but (most of the time) that isn't a big deal, and there are upsides.
      • by AndersOSU ( 873247 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:45AM (#29171841)

        Yes, but in those cases your anonymity was only protected to the extent that someone didn't track you down.

        If you're a revolutionary looking to pamphlet, for example, I imagine you'd go to pretty long lengths to ensure your printer won't turn you over to the authorities. Additionally, if your printer did turn you over, the argument, "he promised he wouldn't" doesn't wouldn't carry much weight.

        To extend the analogy, someone decided to use google as their printer, without bothering to verify that google wouldn't tell anyone her identity. In other words, you don't have a right to make anonymous public speech. You do have a right to take steps to protect your anonymity yourself - if those steps are insufficient that's your own problem.

        The right to anonymity, so far as it exists, is an extension of your right to privacy. You don't have any expectation of privacy when hanging signs on telephone poles or making posts on blogs because those are PUBLIC acts.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:33AM (#29171717)
      In fact, I am becoming more in favor of making everyone use their real name, all the time, to lessen the ridiculous-ness, the hateful content, the juvenile, spiteful posts, that we regularly see on forums.

      I fully agree with this! No one should ever be allowed to hide behind the veil of anonymity.
    • You have a right to anonymity. You forfeit it the instant you use it to commit a crime or defame someone. The problem is, people have gotten so used to being able to act with impunity that the Internet has become a thoroughly nasty place (the Arpanet was never this bad), and they think it's now their God-given right to call anybody any name they like. It about damn time these jerks were outed and made to take responsibility for their actions.

      • You have a right to anonymity. You forfeit it the instant you use it to commit a crime or defame someone.

        But, and this is the crux of this case, do you forfeit it the instant someone accuses you of defamation? Back to the case in hand, the model should be dragged back into court for contempt. This is clearly abuse of the court system to get revenge without caring about justice.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sumdumass ( 711423 )

          As soon as, no. You seem to be forfeiting it when someone presents the defamation to a judge and the judge determines that disclosing your identity is prudent to pursuing justice. This means that the judge actually saw the potential of defamation if not actual defamation and determined it was beyond hurt feelings to some extent.

          In this model case however, the situation had some preconditions to it. The model thought the anonymous person was someone specific and had intent to sue that person. When it was det

        • by DaveAtFraud ( 460127 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:18AM (#29172793) Homepage Journal

          Once the model found out who had made the posts, she may have decided the "you can't get blood out of a rock." That is, it wasn't worth the legal expenses to continue the action since the person responsible for the defamation didn't have sufficient resources to even pay those expenses; let alone pay any sort of punitive penalty.

          Why should the model be "forced" to continue an action that won't bring her any compensation?


        • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:35AM (#29173695) Homepage

          What exactly was the revenge that the model enacted on the blogger? Did she key her car? Boil her pet bunny? If all she did was get the blogger's name disclosed and ask the blogger to stop, that seems pretty mild and proportionate to me.

          Keep in mind that for a model, one's public image quite literally is one's meal ticket. If a blogger suceeds in convincing the public that you are a bad person who should not be emulated, then you are not going to get any more work as a model, ever.

          If someone was purposefully and maliciously undermining my reputation, I would probably do the same things this model did -- better that than lose my career to defend some foul-mouthed blogger's alleged right to defame me.

      • by professorguy ( 1108737 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:12AM (#29172133)

        (the Arpanet was never this bad)

        Speaking as one who has been on the internet since when there were fewer than 10,000 hosts connected, I'd say your memory is flawed. "Flame wars" were as bad (or even worse) then.

        There is a LOT more fear about what you can get away with now, because there are a LOT more laws about whether some speech is too free. And yet the flame wars have not been reduced one iota. Here again we've given up freedom for NO improvement in our situation.

      • Seriously? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:21AM (#29172223) Homepage

        Do you honestly believe that you should be able to sue someone simply for calling them a skank, online or otherwise?

        If so, I can't wait till you have a daughter in high school,, you will be an instant millionaire the first week, followed shortly by being bankrupt the next.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      In RL, there is no anonymity.

      Of course there is. You never heard of "Deep Throat?" You don't see that someone might want to do the right thing and blow the whistle on wrongdoing without having to worry about repurcussions?

      In some cases, anonymity is protected by law, e.g. tipping off the cops. And there are legitimate reasons for anonymous slashdot postings, as well.

    • by Virak ( 897071 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:37AM (#29171749) Homepage

      Yes, in the wonderful land of Real Life, everything has a reaction. Sometimes these are very negative reactions. Often this is for good reason, but sometimes it is very much not. Having a place where people can express unpopular, or even in some places of the world, illegal, opinions without fear of retribution is a very good thing and for each of these legitimate uses I think even a billion childish, racist, sexist, misanthropic trolls foaming at the mouth is a small price to pay.

      • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:53AM (#29171913)

        I concur.

        Furthermore I will add that removing the privilege of Internet anonymity would not herald a return to some non-existed golden age of respect, it would technologically disarm the citizen, the whistleblower, and the blogger whilst leaving intact the weapons of the PR guru, the astroturfer and private detective. There is an arms race between those in power who wish to control discourse and those without power who want to carry out discourse outside the reach of power. Surrendering one side would not automatically make the other side step back.

    • it is often the case that someone who wishes to whistleblow on a company dumping into an aquifer, or having proof of a bullshit reason to invade iraq [], is pitting themselves against a furious entity with a lot of power. such that you want anonymity ensured in communication channels where individuals are not afraid to speak out against crimes and abuses of the public trust by the government or other powerful entities

      of course, the flip side of that concept is you get this ridiculous skankfight and the legal idiocy resulting from that. but protecting skanks from identifying each other is a small price to pay considering the upside of protecting the concept of anonymity

  • Um, what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Timothy Brownawell ( 627747 ) <> on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:19AM (#29171575) Homepage Journal

    a Fashion Institute of Technology student

    Odd name, is it associated with Apple somehow?

  • a civil manner? What ever happened to two women hashing out their differences in a wrestling ring filled with pudding instead of in the courtroom. Kids these days....
  • by Allicorn ( 175921 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:24AM (#29171623) Homepage

    is this all legal bluff and bluster?

    No, this is all stupid bluff and bluster.

  • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:25AM (#29171635)

    Can the outed blogger sue the model for something along the lines of SLAPP []? Well, obviously you can sue for anything, but is it likely to have the suit stand up in court?

    Depending on what she's blogged about in the past, one could argue that being forced out into the open has diminished her chances of seeking gainful employment compared to when no one could just google her name and find that Liskula Cohen is a psychotic skank ho [] ...

    Liskula Cohen was the blogger, right?

  • by volxdragon ( 1297215 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:25AM (#29171641)

    You have zero expectation of privacy when standing out in the open on a city street in the US, why would one assume you have an expectation of privacy when posting on a public forum on the Internet? I understand if you take some measure to really hide (wear a mask in public, or use something like Tor on the Internet), but even then, you could only blame the service you use to protect your privacy, not the end public bulletin (or blog) I would think...

  • Anonymous trial? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TranceThrust ( 1391831 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:28AM (#29171667)

    Following through after 'outing' seems a non-solution; you could still start cases you know you have a small (if any) chance of winning to 'out' someone.

    My initial reaction actually was people cannot and should not expect anonymity on the internet, unless extreme measures are taken which often still do not guarantee anonymity 100%. Furthermore, it is not something people should want; if crimes are committed via internet or with assistance of it, then through proper procedures law-enforcement should be able to track culprits.

    This however was not the case here, and so far I can see the only 'solution' would be to keep the identity of the accused anonymous during the trial and make it known only after a guilty verdict. This won't work, however, since often the daily life of the accused is relevant to the court proceedings; the accusing party has a right to be able to research what more the accused has been up to.
    Perhaps an anonymous trial is only feasible for a small subset of charges. Don't see it happening though, this is probably just a necessary evil.

    On a sidenote, if the charges are too ridiculous, any court would just dismiss the charges entirely without anyone being drawn out.

  • to protect the first amendment, but suing companies for not more zealously protecting anonymity from idiot rulings is better than no protection at all. so let this retarded catfight proceed in the only way it can:

    1. one dumb biatch gets a bucketload of cash from google
    2. the other dumb biatch gets a career boost fom the streisand effect

    as if getting on the front page of newspapers is bad for your career, no matter how lascivious. didn't paris hilton's "career" get started when video of her surfaced giving some trust fund ahole a hummer? and didja see her ass(ets)? []



  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:39AM (#29171765) Homepage Journal
    Ms. Port refers to the anonymous publication of The Federalist Papers. She actually does have a point there. A few years back there was a lawsuit over anonymously published political tracts. Federal campaign finance law required that the funding source for those pamphlets be publicly stated, and it wasn't. If I remember correctly, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the publisher to speak anonymously.


    If she really does go through with the lawsuit, contract law will be the deciding factor here, specifically whether Google's Terms of Service promised any kind of anonymity. I expect it doesn't.

    Let this be a lesson to all the bloggers out there, to post using TOR.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stuntpope ( 19736 )

      Considering that Google revealed Ms Port's identity in response to a court order, and Google's TOS have clear language about this type of situation, I think all the talk about suing Google is moot.

  • by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:40AM (#29171775)
    People should be charged when they intentionally and knowingly abuse the system (from filing bogus charges to initiating bogus lawsuits). Yes, I know, sometimes it's hard to tell when it's bogus and when it's just a "change of heart" but, often, an intelligent person can tell the difference. These sorts of abuses to the legal system harm its integrity and waste valuable resources that could be better spent dealing with, you know, real criminals and real societal problems. Were there actual consequences to abusing the system, perhaps people would be less inclined to play these sorts of games.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Ahh... this is such a tough case. There is so much stupid bull$hit on all sides here... on one hand we have a spoiled brat model who thinks that she can take out personal vendettas through the court system and waste our time and money "cuz she's calling me names", and on the other hand we have a spoiled brat blogger who couldn't be bothered to read over the ToS that she already agreed to before filing a lawsuit. The legal process should be amended to keep both of these idiots out of the courts -- you should
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by russotto ( 537200 )

      People should be charged when they intentionally and knowingly abuse the system (from filing bogus charges to initiating bogus lawsuits). Yes, I know, sometimes it's hard to tell when it's bogus and when it's just a "change of heart" but, often, an intelligent person can tell the difference.

      In fact, there's a cause of action for just this sort of thing. And it's called "abuse of process". According to Wikipedia (sorry, don't have Blacks Law Dictionary handy), "The person who abuses process is interested o

  • by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:41AM (#29171789)

    60% of the readers believes, that "if you are going to write something, you should have the courage to stand by it by putting your name on it.".

    Not necessarily wrong, but considering how much the US is clamouring for people in other countries to be allowed anonymous and secret access to uncensored (but not necessarily unbiased) news [], I find it odd that people in the US shouldn't be allowed to express anonymous speech.

    Didn't some of the founding fathers publish a series of letters highly critical of the King's government before the revolution?

    Sure, they might kill him, but in a society where you can be sued into what is essentially life long indentured servitude with no means of paying off the "damages" you've done to some company by mentioning that they might not look clean to you, wouldn't you rather face death?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Comment removed based on user account deletion
    • Didn't some of the founding fathers publish a series of letters highly critical of the King's government before the revolution?

      There is a difference -- practical and emotional, if not necessarily legal -- in speaking Truth to Power and saying that a private citizen is a whore. The Founding Fathers knew they had no chance if the King sent a squad of soldiers to their house in the middle of the night, but they were all about "settling differences like men" when it came to perceived personal insults (just ask

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 )

      Well, one way to think about this is to ask how *equal* access to anonymity is in a society.

      To the degree that public officials can escape the consequences of their words and deeds, private individuals can reasonably demand the same privileges. A totally transparent society could work too, except it won't ever happen. Some people will be the first to lose their anonymity, others the last. And the last will have power over everyone else.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pelrun ( 25021 )

      I think it's more a case of "if you're going to be an asshole, don't be a coward as well." You can be critical without being a dick (and in that case anonymity is worthwhile/necessary) but if you're being a dick just for the sake of being a dick, you shouldn't expect to be protected.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:06AM (#29172059)
    It is pretty obvious from the some of the things mentioned in the earlier article that Liskula Cohen thought the blogger was someone else (perhaps someone who has an ongoing feud with her). When she discovered that the blogger was not who she thought it was, she dropped the suit. It is even possible that her case for defamation was partly based on other behavior of the person she thought was the blogger.
  • Laughing yet? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hesaigo999ca ( 786966 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:06AM (#29172063) Homepage Journal

    I would so be laughing right now, if this was a cool scam on their part...2 friends get together and plan how to launch or boost the models presence as well as make money...she write a nasty column, the model fake sues to out the anonymous friend blogger, then she sues google for 2 million and wins, then the model because of this gets tons of free publicity, she lands a 2million contract and everybody wins, cause they get to watch the drama unfold!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GPLDAN ( 732269 )
      I bet Larry Flynt has already offered them a 100k each to make a porno. Where they do each other.
  • by codeguy007 ( 179016 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:21AM (#29172215)

    There's no mystery here. I wouldn't be surprised that upon learning that the defendant is a student, it was decided that any chance for fiancial gain was lost and the case was dropped to save legal costs.

  • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:49AM (#29172495)

    This is awesome, because it doesn't involve just one skank ho, but two of them!

    I think something fishy is going on here due to the amazingly high level of animosity: They are either closet lesbians who secretly want each other or they are in cahoots and scamming the legal system.

    Either way, I want to see the sex tape.

  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:03AM (#29172657) Homepage

    Should such anonymity-busting court rulings include a provision for penalties if the plaintiff does not follow through with legal action after outing their target?

    The answer to that question is, not no, but hell no.

    It would be very destructive to make laws that require people to not drop a suit.

    (The tag "what could possibly go wrong?" applies here.)

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @12:37PM (#29174473) Journal
    Seriously, they know each other. Cohen goes after this, THEN drops the suite. BUT, Porter goes after Google. I wonder if cohen will end up with millions after this? Sounds complicated, but it makes more sense then does the actions that have occurred so far.
  • reason ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @12:41PM (#29174527) Homepage Journal

    Any automatic penalty will be abused.

    But it certainly is worth it looking into the motives and reasons. They may have just decided that they don't want to bancrupt a student. You know, some people who go to court are still human beings.

  • by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:49PM (#29180467)

    Having (unfortunately) been involved in a defamation case myself, I think it would have been an awfully interesting trial. In order to be defamation, a statement must 1) be untrue and 2) cause damage to somebody's reputation.

    So what we're talking about here are the words "skank," "ho," and "psychotic." Is calling somebody a skank a statement of fact? We would need a legal definition of what a "skank" is. I figure it would take several days of legal argument just to hash out that part of it. Then, having established the legal definition of a "skank," Ms. Cohen would have to provide at least some evidence that she is not, in fact, a skank (unlike a criminal trial, civil suits are based on a preponderance of the evidence -- if Cohen does not actively defend herself, she loses). So her private sexual life will now become a matter of public record.

    How about "psychotic?" Well, that's certainly something we can prove in court. We'll subject Ms. Cohen to a battery of psychological tests to determine her state of mind. That should certainly be pleasant for her.

    Now, "ho" is a bit more complicated. Does it literally mean "whore," a.k.a. prostitute? We'll need to legally define this as well.

    I think what happened here is that some lawyer with a brain finally clued her in about what exactly would happen in court if she pushed this through. You don't get to just stand there and say "It's not true, poo on you."

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell