A Rochester daily newspaper need not disclose the identities of four individuals who had posted anonymous and allegedly defamatory comments to the paper’s website regarding a police chief and three officers, a judge in Monroe County has held.

However, by holding that the comments at issue are matters of opinion rather than assertions of fact, Supreme Court Justice David Michael Barry (See Profile) did not reach a lingering question on the applicable standard for releasing the identity of an anonymous Internet publisher. Neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor the New York appellate courts have declared a controlling standard.

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