Wikipedia not a publisher
France rules Wiki not responsible for site contents
A French judge has ruled that Wikipedia is not responsible for defamatory content it hosted on its website.
The open source encyclopedia was facing action for damages from three people described as homosexual by the website. Each wanted €69,000 in damages, according to AFP.
But Judge Emmanuel Binoche said that under a 2004 law Wikipedia was not responsible for information it was unaware of. The allegations against the three were removed.
In a written ruling, Reuters reports, Binoche said: "Website hosts cannot be liable under civil law because of information stored on them if they do not in fact know of their illicit nature."
One of the claimants said he had emailed Wikipedia before getting his lawyer involved, but the encyclopedia denied receiving his mail.
Wikimedia Foundation, the umbrella organisation for all of Wiki's incarnations, welcomed the verdict and said the site always tries to react quickly to such problems. ®
How to kill a wiki
I recently worked on the content side of a wiki describing data processes - sounds boring, but in fact it was useful and informative.
What stopped it cold was a quality department which insisted on disclaimers on top and bottom of each page that the contents were a mixture of facts, opinions and ideas, and please refer to the official company documents. Who wants to contribute small facts sandwiched between fat disclaimers?
Couldn't you antipediamongers torpedo wikipedia by enforcing such large disclaimers that they displace the ads, as well as the content?
The real question is:
Who the fuck -is- responsible at Wikipedia?
Although Reuters is indeed reporting the story like that, other news sources are focussing on the privacy angle and not mentioning the defamatory claims.
Maybe Reuters is right, maybe it's wrong but its article does say "Binoche did not rule on the whether the information contained in the article was defamatory." However, with El Reg's opening lines ("A French judge has ruled that Wikipedia is not responsible for defamatory content it hosted on its website."), you wouldn't know that - nor is there any mention in the article about the invasion of privacy angle of the case, which is pretty central to the whole thing.
"And describing someone as gay can be libel - just ask Robbie Williams or Jason Donovan."
True, but remember Kirk Brandon's ill-fated lawsuit against Boy George?
In any case, weren't these cases in the UK, rather in France?