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Continued: Facing suit, anonymous blogger lifts his mask

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK and DANE SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 5, 2006 - 12:10 AM

Gunslinger defense

The suit has the potential for breaking new ground on legal issues associated with blogging. While some states' courts have ruled on issues such as anonymous blogging, the territory remains largely uncharted, particularly in the federal courts. While Brodkorb voluntarily revealed himself, some legal experts suggest that federal law would have made it very difficult to unmask him.

Additionally, in a Delaware case last year, the state's Supreme Court ruled that people aggrieved by a blog had the opportunity for redress simply by posting on the offending blog. Political debate, such as that engaged in by Minnesota Democrats Exposed, also is usually afforded the highest form of First Amendment protection by courts, said Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota.

One result from the Delaware case could be that bloggers may benefit from their own gunslinger reputations, Kirtley said.

"A lot of stuff that appears on blogs, whether it's meant to be or not, is usually not taken by readers as being statements of fact," she said. "Bloggers, by their very nature, are not expected to adhere to the same standards of accuracy that those in the mainstream media would be."

mbrunswick@startribune.com • 651-222-1636 rdsmith@startribune.com • 651-292-0164

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