This court ruling sets new boundaries on protecting by anonymous people who may be saying mean nasty things about your or your business. It will remain to be seen how this might impact the postings found on websites such as CitySearch.com or Yelp.com that offer abundant restaurant reviews from the public.
The article offers some insights on:
“What if you're targeted?
If you become the subject of anonymous rumors or worse on the Internet, your options are limited”
“Oregon's Media Shield Law, passed during the Watergate era in 1973, allows news organizations to protect sources and information acquired during the news-gathering process.”
Anonymous blog commenters shielded by Oregon ruling
by Steve Mayes, The Oregonian - December 11, 2008
When Terry Beard became the target of nasty Internet postings, the Portland businessman discovered that a quirk in Oregon law can make it impossible to clear your name, no matter how outrageous the attack.
A judge in Clackamas County ruled that an Oregon law that allows newspapers to shield the identity of news sources also protects anonymous writers who post comments to media Web sites. The Web sites could not be compelled to identify the writers, Circuit Judge pro tem James Redman ruled and, under federal law, were not responsible for the comments.
In other words, Beard found out, you can say almost anything about anybody on an Oregon media Web site without fear of being unmasked by a lawsuit or prosecuted for libel, defamation or invasion of privacy.
The Oregon decision, regarding comments posted on Web sites operated by the Portland Mercury, Willamette Week and Bikeportland, was one of the first in the nation to expand news media protections to people who post anonymous comments on the Internet.
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