The Twitter logo is seen at the company's headquarters in San Francisco, California October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
(Reuters) - A company with “mysterious” origins and a “vague” business model tried to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to force Twitter to disclose the identity of an anonymous user who criticized private-equity billionaire Brian Sheth.
That strategy backfired in quite spectacular fashion on Tuesday: A San Francisco federal judge concluded that the company’s refusal to disclose details about its own origins and motivations doomed its bid to expose the anonymous Twitter Inc user, @CallMeMoneyBags, who allegedly infringed its copyrights.
The whole case, which attracted passionate amicus briefing on both sides, left U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria full of doubts and questions about the motives of the copyright owner, Bayside Advisory LLC. In particular, Chhabria queried Bayside's possible ties to former Vista Equity Partners president Sheth, despite protestations by Bayside counsel that neither Sheth nor MoneyBags’ other billionaire targets own or control the company.
I’ll get to what Chhabria called the mysterious circumstances of Bayside’s creation, but I want to note that, as a matter of copyright and 1st Amendment law, what’s significant is that the judge took the company’s backstory into consideration at all.