I imagined the following scenario, where how to mount a defence for the lowest cost (without settlement, in order to clear one's name) wasn't clear to me:
The hypothetical case
Vocal code critic Frank Bloggs (popularity similar to Linus Torvalds) has been shown code by academic James Coda. Frank has written a publicly scathing review, with very minimal snippets of code utilised under fair use (criticism) to demo. Frank is the only other person to have seen James' code. It's kept confidential, as it's academic research, although Frank is not aware of this fact. By showing the code to Frank, it's implicit that he would publicly comment (as he does with any other code he's given). Assume James has the means to prove Frank was the only other person to have seen the code.
James gets bad press. James is furious, decides to frame Frank for leaking the entirety of his code and then sue. James goes to code site A (akin to GitHub), registers account 'fbloggs' with a disposable email, then posts the same code Frank would have seen. Frank doesn't become aware of the page until after he receives a legal notice from James.
Frank tries to contact the site, asking them to reveal the email address/IP, to try to prove his innocence, but they refuse (assume it's too costly for Frank to sue. They would rather close down like LavaBit). Sleuthing the password reset, Frank gets email@example.com. Frank's typical email (hidden from the usually angry public) is firstname.lastname@example.org. Somemail.com refuse to help; but James used a proxy, and Frank's details can be found publicly, so the account is plausibly forged.
- Frank is the only other person to proveably have seen his code
- The URL where the entire source code is leaked contains 'fbloggs'
- The website contains the same code he gave to Frank
- Frank has proveably seen the code based on his web review containing snippets
- James omits the plausibility of the email account (he knows he isn't supposed to know it's private details), but if Frank were to bring it up, then James would claim it's plausibly Frank's
- James omits the part where he states he didn't leak it (overly specific denial), but if accused he would mention.
Ergo, James accuses Frank of leaking his confidential code.
Judge character flaw
The case is put before a tech unsavvy judge (who would believe because the URL contains 'fbloggs' it must be likely Frank Bloggs' page), a flaw that isn't found out until after trial proceeds (EG judge can no longer be vetoed). Similarly, Frank Bloggs arguing 'it could be anyone with fbloggs as their name!' won't pass muster with this particular judge.
How does Frank successfully defend himself for the lowest cost whilst maintaining his reputation?
Looking for responses for US, and also UK law.