Feeds

Wikipedia's Gallery guy hung up to dry?

Facing up to National Portrait Gallery

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
Class war! Wikipedia's workers revolt again
Bourgeois paper-shufflers have 'suspended democracy', sniff unpaid proles
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.