Darkspilver had deep concerns that disclosure of their identity would cause them to be disfellowshipped by their community. Darkspilver has seen Jehovah’s Witness community members who raise questions be excommunicated or “disfellowshipped,” where family and friends remaining in the community cut off normal social interactions. A magistrate judge ruled last year that Darkspilver did not infringe by posting the chart, but that Watch Tower should be able to pursue its claim with respect to the advertisement, subject to strict limitations. The judge ordered disclosure of Darkspilver’s identity to Watch Tower’s lawyer, so the organization could try to shore up its legal claims.
EFF appealed that decision to the District Court. An opinion released Monday said, “The record establishes that Darkspilver made fair use of the Watch Tower ad and chart. Consequently, he did not infringe Watch Tower’s copyrighted works, and there is no basis in the DMCA for a subpoena to compel disclosure of his identity.” “This copyright claim was absurd from the start,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “The DMCA subpoena process is not supposed to be a pretext for unmasking lawful speakers.”
For the full opinion: