A judge has rejected the motion of presidential candidate Ron Paul to unmask an anonymous YouTube user who made a video trashing his former rival Jon Huntsman.
The Public Citizen Litigation Group, American Civil Liberties Union, Foundation, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Digital Media Law Project had urged the court to deny Paul’s request. They said that unmasking the YouTube user without proving any wrongdoing would violate his or her First Amendment right to speak anonymously.
“This lawsuit threatens both the right of individual citizens to speak out for or against candidates for high public office without having to get permission from the candidates they favor, and the right to discuss candidates anonymously, without having to worry about what increasingly rabid supporters on both sides may say about them or even do to them,” Public Citizen’s Paul Alan Levy explained.
Chief Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California rejected Paul’s motion to identify the anonymous defendants on Friday, ruling the “plaintiff failed to address the proper legal standard for expedited discovery.”
The amateur-looking video in question, titled “Jon Huntsman’s Values,” suggested the former candidate lacked American values based on his time spent abroad and the adoption of children from India and China.
The video was uploaded by a user named “NHLiberty4Paul.” A corresponding Twitter account publicized the video on January 4, the day both accounts were created and the video was uploaded.
The video was reported by Breitbart.tv, RedState, Mediaite and several other media outlets, some of which implied it was an official video of Paul’s campaign. Soon afterward, Paul disavowed the video.
In a complaint filed January 13, Paul asserted that the use of his name infringed his trademark and defamed him by improperly implying that he was behind it. The campaign moved to identify the anonymous YouTube user and sought to have the video removed from the web and for the user to be prohibited from ever using Paul’s name.