[LINK] Wikipedia [France] Wins Landmark Case

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Mon Nov 5 12:39:09 AEDT 2007

[Darren Osborne at AAP drew this to my attention, looking for a 
comment on its applicability in Australia.  Remarks at end]

Wikipedia Foundation Wins Landmark Case
By Greg McNevin
Image and Data Manager Online

November 5, 2007: In a landmark decision, a French court has ruled 
that Wikipedia cannot be held responsible for content published on 
its service by its users.

The online encyclopedia, which is written, edited and updated by 
thousands of contributors around the world, was taken to court in 
France by three men seeking damages for their homosexuality being 
published online.

According to an AFP report, the men sought EU69,000 (AU$108,300) for 
invasion of privacy when details of their sexuality were posted in a 
short-lived anonymous article on the site. The judge rejected their 
claim, however, arguing that the Wikimedia Foundation's (the not-for 
profit organisation behind Wikipedia and other "wiki" sites) 
responsibility for the content was not clearly established.

Due to its fundamental "anyone can add or edit" nature, Wikipedia is 
coming under increasing criticism about accuracy and information 
vandalism. While its many volunteer editors and its wider community 
of users are vigilant about its misuse, the Foundation itself does 
not control the content. It provides the open source tools and 
funding to run the service, while the wider community of users 
provide the content under a creative commons license.

The foundation is naturally quite pleased with the ruling, which 
could prove to have wider ramifications in the web 2.0 publishing 
world, perhaps by slowly taming the "wild west" of online publishing 
by determining who is not responsible for content rather than by who 

"The decision is very clear and we appreciate the fact the court 
acknowledges our role as an Internet host, rather than an editor," 
said Wikimedia Foundation chairman, Florence Devouard to AFP.

[Basically, the court accepted that Wikipedia isn't a publisher, but 
rather a provider of space and facilities.]

[As regards any action against the individuals - assuming that 
they're pseudonymous rather than anonymous:  there are relatively few 
circumstances in which an individual is restrained by privacy 
protection law.  Some exceptions:  the torts of defamation, 
confidence and passing off, and now maybe upskirting/voyeur laws.]

Roger Clarke                  http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng  Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program      University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW

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