Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

First Page



This Note examines the prevalence of anonymous internet speakers, the practical and legal issues that courts confront when balancing the rights of anonymous internet speakers with those of plaintiffs seeking to unmask them, and the serious dangers courts expose speakers to if wrongfully unmasked. Part I argues that internet speech merits the same First Amendment protections as traditional speech, notes the unique benefits of anonymous internet speech, examines the practical difficulties faced by courts and plaintiffs in unmasking anonymous speakers, and details the immense dangers these speakers face if wrongfully exposed. Part II analyzes the most common approaches courts use when determining whether to unmask an anonymous internet speaker, argues for the special treatment of intellectual property claims within unmasking analyses, and grounds the discussion by walking the reader through cases highlighting the recent internet free-speech controversy in Texas. Finally, Part III argues that, because the vast majority of courts treat internet and traditional speech interchangeably and favor protecting anonymous speech, anonymous internet speakers' identity should be protected under a defendant-friendly standard with a rebuttable presumption in favor of the plaintiff in IP infringement cases.