'Anonymous' Posters to Pay $13 Million for Defamatory Comments

Tolles said a Topix analysis three years ago indicated that about 70 percent of the defamatory comments included in the Leshers' petition belonged to a handful of IP addresses. He said his company was happy to help those who believe they have been libeled but "the key was that people didn't see us with a soft touch."

At the time, Tolles said his company received a handful of requests from law enforcement officials looking for information on a case or from individuals.

When the suit was first filed, the Leshers said that the information from Topix led them to three Internet service providers, Hughes Communications, America Online and Birch Communication.

The couple had said Birch immediately responded to their subpoena. The company disclosed that the IP addresses corresponding to posts made by the pseudonym "ilbedipt" were registered to Apache Truck & Van Parts.

"We just got lucky," Mark Lesher said at the time, adding that though "illbedipt" only posted about 10 times from the Birch IP address, he said that pseudonym also posted hundreds of times from another IP address registered to Hughes.

The Leshers had said Hughes was cooperative but indicated that because it is a satellite company, it required more information that the Leshers tried to secure from Topix. AOL said it erased the necessary information after 90 days.

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