New York Trial Court Throws Out Libel Lawsuit Filed by Village Police Chief and Three Officers Against Anonymous Internet Commenters

The case is Varrenti v. Gannett Co. (Aug. 3). The court held that the comments, in context, would be seen as expressions of opinion rather than statements of verifiable fact — largely because readers would seem them as “sarcastic, hyperbolic, and based on rumors” — and that the comments are therefore protected against a libel lawsuit. Because of this, the court held, the plaintiffs wouldn’t even be able to get discovery of the anonymous commenters’ identifying information.

Thanks to MLRC: Actions Against Online Speech for the pointer.