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Doe v. 2TheMart.com. Inc.

United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
140 F. Supp. 2d 1088 (W.D. Wa. 2001)


Facts

InfoSpace was a company that ran a website called Silicon Investor. Silicon Investor contained a series of online bulletin boards. One of these bulletin boards was devoted to 2TheMart.com (TMRT) (defendant), a publicly traded company. Investors and members of the public would post anonymously on the bulletin board, discussing the latest news about the company, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the company. Some of the posts on the bulletin board were extremely negative towards TMRT. The posts were archived and readily accessible. TMRT was engaged in a lawsuit in which TMRT shareholders alleged that TMRT’s officers committed fraud. In that suit, TMRT raised 27 defenses. One defense was that the drop in TMRT’s stock price was not caused by the actions of TMRT’s officers, but that the price drop was actually due to illegal manipulation by the anonymous posters on the Silicon Investor message board. TMRT issued a subpoena to InfoSpace, seeking identifying information about several posters on the Silicon Investor board. NoGuano (plaintiff) was the username of one the posters whose information TMRT sought. NoGuano filed a motion to quash TMRT’s subpoena, citing a First Amendment right to anonymous communication.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Zilly, J.)

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