Wednesday, November 07, 2007

New York court reaffirms Constitutional principle that "John Doe" information cannot be disclosed without prior notice and opportunity to be heard

In Greenbaum v. Google, a New York court has reaffirmed the principle that "John Doe" identity information cannot be disclosed absent:

-prior notice to the anonymous person;
-affording the anonymous person an opportunity to be heard in opposition to the application; and
-an evidentiary showing of a prima facie case against the anonymous person.

Application of this principle to the RIAA cases would defeat all of the RIAA's ex parte discovery applications.

October 23, 2007, Decision of Hon. Marcy S. Friedman in Greenbaum v. Google*

* Document published online at Internet Law & Regulation

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4 comments:

Russell said...

But how would anyone apply this ruling if they don't even know that they are being investigated?

Would the ISP have to invoke this?

Ray Beckerman said...

Whoever the party is from whom the information is being sought -- in this case Google, in the RIAA cases the ISP or the college -- would send the prior notice.

Anonymous said...

an evidentiary showing of a prima facie case against the anonymous person.

The Magistrate Judge in the Ohio University case above really should be made aware of this finding -- since it's precisely the opposite of what he has apparently ruled in denying the Motion to Quash the Subpoena for expedited discovery of John Doe #13's identity.

Nick Rout said...

At last a US decision I can understand :-)

Russell, read the decision, it is quite short. Google did the right thing and told "orthomom" about the case. Orthomom then appeared anonymously by her lawyer. Orthomom's lawyer convinced the judge that none of the comments on the blog were defamatory, even the comment that the plaintiff had lied in her written evidence. On that basis the case could never be one and there was no point in revealing the names.