We recently filed an amicus brief about the standards for subpoenas identifying anonymous Internet users accused of defamatory or otherwise wrongful communications in a surprising venue - the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The underlying case was filed in the Western District of Washington by Macao Music Group, an offshore conglomerate of companies making pro audio and music equipment, and by a Washington state subsidiary, against the anonymous authors of a pair of parody Twitter accounts named "FakeUli" and "NotUliBehringer," playing on the name of Macao's CEO, Uli Behringer.
The complaint in the case asserts that various tweets accused Behringer of consorting with prostitutes, and accused the companies of making shoddy products and encouraging domestic violence and child abuse. Plaintiffs then issued a subpoena in the Northern District of California. Twitter, however, resisted the subpoena on the ground that there was no proof of wrongdoing, and plaintiffs moved to compel, telling the Court about the Dendrite line of cases (with emphasis on one of the cases, Salehoo v Doe, decided in the forum court, the Western District of Washington, and arguing that those standards were met because the statements were so plainly defamatory. Twitter took no position on whether the standard had been met, but simply urged the Court not to compel compliance with the subpoena unless the Court was satisfied that the Dendrite standard had been satisfied.
Why the Northern District of California Needs to Get These Cases Right