Actor James Woods loves drama. Early last month, he filed a $10 million lawsuit against some guy on Twitter for calling him “a cocaine addict.” Subsequently, his attorneys subpoenaed Twitter to unmask the pseudonymous “Abe List,” a request that Twitter has refused, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“The speech at issue appears to be opinion and hyperbole rather than a statement of fact,” wrote Twitter’s attorney Ryan Mrazik in a letter dated to August 21st. (Again, the speech at issue is a now-deleted tweet calling Woods “a cocaine addict.”) “Further, the target of the speech is a public figure who purposefully injects himself into public controversies, and there has been no showing of actual malice.”
“Attempts to unmask anonymous online speakers in the absence of a prima facie defamation claim are improper and would chill the First Amendment rights of speakers who use Twitter’s platform to express their thoughts and ideas instantly and publicly, without barriers,” the letter continues.
The letter also criticized Woods’ lawyers Michael Weinstein and Evan Spiegel for failing to provide proper documentation, conducting unauthorized early discovery, and making “vague, overbroad, and unduly burdensome” requests,” the Reporter reports.
In a brief filed on Friday, Weinstein and Spiegel argue that there is a prima facie case of defamation: “The offensive Twitter postings were not in any way couched as opinion, joke or hyperbole. Nor were they qualified in any way whatsoever.”
Abe List’s lawyer Kenneth White—known on Twitter as Popehat—also filed a brief on Friday: “Plaintiff James Woods is abusing the court system to lash out at a constitutionally protected political insult—the very sort of insult he routinely uses himself,” it begins. (Woods definitely likes to mix it up on Twitter dot com.) “Plaintiff apparently believes that while he can say that sort of thing to others, others cannot say it to him.”
The judge has not yet made a ruling. A hearing has been scheduled for October 2nd.