As part of his on-going legal action against the on-line forum Free Dominion, Ottawa human rights lawyer Richard Warman has been trying to get IP addresses and other information from the site owners in order to determine the identities of the remaining anonymous posters that he has accused of defaming him. The first time this particular motion went before a judge Mr. Warman was victorious. A second judge, however, ruled that the first had not adequately addressed the free speech/privacy issues involved, and asked that Mr. Warman show a prima facie case for defamation before ordering the site owners Mark and Connie Fournier to turn over the relevant documentation. Well, a third judge has spoken, and guess what? Your right to post anonymously is not absolute:
And since these postings were prima facie defamatory:
I'm not going to publish the entire decision, as it contains the defamatory statements at issue. I've read it through, though, and there's nothing particular surprising in the reasoning as far as I can tell. If you anonymously libel someone on-line, don't expect to make privacy and free speech your defence.