Everything online journalists need to protect their legal rights. This free resource culls from all Reporters Committee resources and includes exclusive content on digital media law issues.
Hadeed Carpet Cleaning filed a defamation suit in Virginia against several anonymous reviewers for comments they posted on Yelp. Hadeed alleges that the reviewers were not actually customers and that their allegations were defamatory, and sought a subpoena to identify them. The trial court issued the subpoena and Yelp appealed to the Virginia Court of Appeals. We filed an amicus brief in support of Yelp, arguing that Virginia should follow law developed in other states requiring an adequate showing that the lawsuit is meritorious and that the plaintiff has attempted to give notice of a pending suit to the anonymous reviewers before seeking a subpoena. News organizations recognize an important interest in allowing robust user feedback on their own news sites, and a lax standard for compelling disclosure of anonymous online speakers would hamper First Amendment rights and chill speech.