Md. Appeals Court Protects Anonymous Web Posters

Maryland’s Court of Appeals today issued a decision protecting the identity of three anonymous Internet posters and, for the first time, offering guidelines for state courts to follow in libel cases before unmasking online commenters.

The opinion and instructions stem from a defamation lawsuit filed by Eastern Shore developer Zebulon Brodie against three unknown Internet posters and Independent Newspapers Inc., which runs an online community forum. The posters had written critical comments about the cleanliness of a Dunkin’ Donuts that Brodie owns in Centreville.

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