Some folks who posted ugly things about a University of Delaware student on are being sued, reports the News Journal of New Castle-Wilmington, Del.; they just don’t know it yet. The caption of the federal civil case filed this month couldn’t be more vague–Jane Doe v. John Doe 1-5–but it raises significant and potentially precedent-setting issues about the limits of speech on the internet. The lawsuit seeks to determine the identities of one or more anonymous posters on the web site and wants damages from them for making allegedly defamatory statements. Some see this as potentially chilling to freedom of speech, and not only by stopping some from speaking their minds on blogs. They say it also could affect blog operators who could be silenced or coerced into censoring their site for fear of a costly legal battle over providing information about people who post. Others argue that someone should be held responsible–or at least limits should be imposed–fearing the gossip could damage the reputations and job prospects of its targets. If you post something on the internet for all to see, said UD senior Amanda Lopez, "then you should at least take responsibility for it … own up to it." Teagan Gregory, the UD Student Government Association president, said he opposes any effort by the government or the campus to clamp down on the site because of free-speech concerns. At the same time, he said, he has no problems with the lawsuit. "She’s within her rights to do so," he said…

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