by Paul Alan Levy
Ron Paul’s presidential campaign committee has dropped its lawsuit against the anonymous individuals who created and posted to YouTube an offensive video that attacked the candidacy of rival candidate Jon Huntsman and closed with an endorsement of Paul’s candidacy, using a pseudonym that also endorsed Paul. In January, Paul filed his suit as well as an ex parte motion seeking permission to send subpoenas to Google and Twitter seeking identifying information about the videographer and a Twitter user who publicized the video. In response to an amicus brief that I wrote for Public Citizen and other civil liberties groups EFF, ACLU and Digitial Media Law Center, a federal judge first directed the Paul campaign to address our arguments, and then decided earlier this month that Paul had not shown that he has sound trademark claims and hence any basis for overriding the First Amendment right of the videographer and Twitter user to speak about presidential candidates anonymously.
Late yesterday, the Paul campaign did the right thing, and dropped its suit without prejudice, leaving itself the option to seek discovery in some other proceeding (for example, in California state court). Hopefully, though, this is the end of the matter. The campaign has distanced itself from the video does not need further pursuit of litigation to show its bona fides in denouncing the video, and it is hard to see what further legal proceedings could accomplish, especially given that lawsuits like this are at odds with the libertarian principles on which Paul is campaigning.