Feeds

Wikipedia's Gallery guy hung up to dry?

Facing up to National Portrait Gallery

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Exclusive Wikimedia Foundation says it's standing behind Wikipedia contributor Derrick Coetzee in his defence against legal threats from the National Portrait Gallery.

But Coetzee has been stripped of administrator privileges, which leaves him unable to comply with the Gallery's request, El Reg has learned.

This leaves Coetzee directly in the line of fire, at risk from a lawsuit that could be a test case for public domain rights. Rather than supporting him, Wikipedia appears to have used the contributor as a shield. Coetzee has been obliged to fend for himself for legal representation.

In April the Gallery demanded that Wikimedia remove over 3000 copyrighted images of public domain artworks. Coetzee had downloaded the images from the NPG website and uploaded them to the Wikimedia Commons. The organisation didn't respond. On Friday, the Gallery wrote to Coetzee personally. In exclusive correspondence with The Register, Coetzee explained that he cannot comply.

"As a consequence of the conflict of interest resulting from legal pressure, my administrator rights on Wikimedia Commons were temporarily revoked, so that I can't even delete files."

Wikimedia Foundation did not respond to the NPG's original takedown request in April 2009, so the NPG is pursuing Coetzee directly. Coetzee is now being represented pro bono by attorney Fred von Lohmann of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The case revolves around differing usage rights permitted by US and UK copyright laws. Under UK law, photographs of public domain artworks can be copyrighted. But under US law, the photographs cannot be copyrighted and retain the public domain status of the original artwork. El Reg has previously given extensive coverage to this issue. The Gallery asserts the files were downloaded from their server in the UK, so UK law applies. Wikimedia is located in the US, so they are asserting protection under US law. As Coetzee lives in Seattle, he could not be extradited for mere civil offences, so the NPG could have difficulty prosecuting him in a UK court.

But the NPG's complaint goes beyond copyright.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.