Ruling on one of the most important First Amendment issues of the day, a Philadelphia judge has ruled that a valid defamation claim trumps any right to speak anonymously on the Internet.

In his 19-page opinion in Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg & Ellers v. JPA Development Inc., Common Pleas Judge Albert W. Sheppard Jr. ordered the operator of two now-defunct Web sites to turn over the identities of the anonymous authors of comments on the sites that allegedly defamed a Philadelphia law firm.