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. ©2007 Cal Law Page printed from: Krinsky v. Doe 6 H030767 Cite as 08 C.D.O.S. 1658 LISA KRINSKY, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. DOE 6, Defendant and Appellant. No. H030767 In the Court of Appeal of the State of California Sixth Appellate District (Santa Clara County Super. Ct. No. CV059796) COUNSEL Attorneys for Appellant: The Hoyle Law Firm and Arlene Fickler and Lawrence T. Hoyle, Jr., Steefel, Levitt & Weiss and, Barry W. Lee and Amy B. Briggs Attorneys for Respondent: DeSimone & Huxster and Gerry DeSimone, Robert Wayne Pearce Filed February 6, 2008 counsel OPINION As Internet technology has evolved over the past two decades, computer users have encountered a proliferation of chat rooms and websites that allow them to share their views on myriad topics from consumer products to international diplomacy. Internet bulletin boards, or "message boards," have the advantage of allowing users, or "posters," to express themselves anonymously, by using "screen names" traceable only through the hosts of the sites or their Internet Service Providers (ISPs). One popular forum is the financial message board, which offers posters the opportunity to communicate with others concerning stock trading, corporate behavior, and other finance-related issues. The conversation on one financial message board devolved into scathing verbal attacks on the corporate officers of a Florida company, prompting a lawsuit by one of those officers, plaintiff Lisa Krinsky. Plaintiff attempted to discover the identity of 10 of the pseudonymous posters by serving a subpoena on the message-board host, Yahoo!, Inc. (Yahoo!). Defendant "Doe 6"
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moved to quash the subpoena, but the trial court denied the motion. Doe 6 appeals, contending that he had a First Amendment right to speak anonymously on the Internet. Under the circumstances presented, we agree with Doe 6 that his identity should be protected and therefore reverse the order. Procedural History Until December 31, 2005 plaintiff was the president, chairman of the board, and chief operating officer of SFBC International, Inc., a publicly traded "global development drug service company" with offices in Florida. In January 2006 plaintiff sued 10 "Doe" defendants in a Florida court. In the action plaintiff alleged that defendants had made "defamatory remarks" about her on Yahoo! message boards and other websites, using screen names to conceal their identities. During the litigation defendant Doe 6 was often referred to as "Senor_Pinche_Wey," the screen name he had used in posting on the Yahoo! Finance message board. [FOOTNOTE 1] Seeking damages and an injunction, plaintiff asserted two causes of action in the Florida complaint. All 10 defendants were accused of intentional interference with a "contractual and/or business employment relationship" between plaintiff and SFBC. Nine of the defendants were accused together of libel based on false and misleading Internet statements imputing dishonesty, fraud, improper professional conduct, and criminal activity to plaintiff. The record contains copies of the alleged defamatory messages posted on the Yahoo! message
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