by Paul Alan Levy
The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a decision today on the standards for deciding whether a plaintiff claiming to have been wronged by anonymous (or pseudonymous) online speech may compel the host of that speech to provide information that could aid the plaintiff in identifying the speaker so that process could be served and the case could move forward. Previous decisions of the Michigan Court of Appeals have woven a complicated skein of cases, and those of us who advocate protections for online speech were hoping that the court hearing Sarkar v Doe, a case involving anonymous comments providing peer review of scientific research, might consolidate the cases around a single standard and move Michigan in the direction of the consensus Dendrite / Cahill standard that a dozen states have now adopted. We got the former, but not yet the latter. (Public Citizen submitted an amicus brief in the appeal).