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> My email to SlimVirgin, my guess is that nothing will happen
Daniel Brandt
post Sun 24th December 2006, 9:08pm
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slimvirgin AT gmail.com
cc: info AT wikimedia.org
December 24, 2006

Dear Sarah:

I am looking for a Florida-based attorney to negotiate with the Wikimedia Foundation to take down my biography. If this fails, I plan to file an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against the Foundation. Considering the fact that all the Talk pages are also made available to the search engines, I may include a defamation-of-character complaint in the suit. My main interest in litigation is to establish in a Florida court that Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act does not provide immunity to the Foundation, due to the fact that the Foundation's entire structure is designed to moderate the content on Wikipedia. I will argue that because of this, the Foundation functions as a publisher rather than a service provider. Only service providers are immune under Section 230.

I appreciate the fact that you supported my request to delete the article in October 2005, after we worked on it for a week and were unable to reach agreement. You warned me that you lacked the power to make the deletion stick, if some other administrators disagreed. This is exactly what happened.

I also appreciate your support of Linuxbeak's effort in December 2005 to move the content into other relevant articles on Wikipedia, so that most of the content would still exist, but not be featured in one Wikipedia article under my name. This effort was one that Linuxbeak and I agreed to at the time, but which failed due to a lack of support. I deleted hivemind.html as Linuxbeak made his effort, but then restored it when his effort failed. As you can see, the hivemind.html page is much larger now and also has small photos of most of the perpetrators.

The last meaningful AfD on my bio was concluded on April 9, 2006. Now I am asking you to initiate another AfD. This is something only a major administrator can do, because minor administrators will intervene on the grounds of "Speedy Keep."

I believe that one last meaningful AfD for my biography is warranted before this issue escalates further, and I hope you agree with me. If the article gets deleted, I will take down the hivemind.html page on www.wikipedia-watch.org (but not the hive2.html page), and will also take down the findchat.html page, the 1,545 chat log files that are linked from there, and the chat search engine.


Thank you,
Daniel Brandt
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JohnA
post Mon 25th December 2006, 8:11pm
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I think they'll regard this as wikilawyering until the suit is filed and lands on Jimbo's desk.
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Nathan
post Tue 26th December 2006, 9:43am
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Good move. To me, this is more than fair - though Jimbo may disagree wink.gif
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Daniel Brandt
post Tue 26th December 2006, 4:25pm
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Thanks, I agree that this is a reasonable compromise. I thought so a year ago, and I still think so.

However, I predict that an AfD, regardless of who starts it, will result in a KEEP. The reason is that when I sue the Foundation, the editors and admins who have been persecuting me over the last 14 months will feel relieved. I will be arguing in court that the Foundation is responsible, more than the individual editors and admins. All of a sudden these individuals have absolutely nothing to lose. My biography becomes more of a spectator sport for them at this point, and the video game (or cock fight) becomes more amusing for them. None of these editors or admins care about the future of Wikipedia; they're interested in playing games. That's always been the case at Wikipedia, from what I've seen.

My attempt at a final AfD is what lawyers call "exhausting your administrative remedies." I expect that a jury will be interested to know that I availed myself of every opportunity to correct the situation within the Foundation's own procedures and structure, and still got no relief from the Foundation. In fact, the biography got longer, and the "published" (i.e., available to the search engines) Talk pages got more libelous, as the Foundation failed to respond to my situation. My letters and faxes to Jimmy Wales, Brad Patrick, and Danny Wool were ignored.

So be it. I'm pretty close to convincing a competent Florida-based attorney to take this case on a contingency basis. I believe a jury will be sympathetic to my case based on the recorded facts. I also believe that a judge will be sympathetic to a plaintiff who makes a competent case that the Foundation is not immune under Section 230. (The judge decides questions of law, whereas the jury decides facts and awards damages.)

Personally, I'm more interested in the Section 230 aspect of the case. If I got the judge to let the case go forward, but the jury didn't think I was as compelling as Jimmy, I'd still feel that something was accomplished.

If I end up with the sort of attorney that I'm currently looking for, then it will probably be on a contingency basis. Once I agree to let him represent me, it will primarily be his decision about when to negotiate, when to settle, when to file a lawsuit, and how to proceed in court.
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poopooball
post Wed 27th December 2006, 7:57pm
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pehraps slimmy is reading.
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JohnA
post Wed 27th December 2006, 8:40pm
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There's not a chance of Slimmy prevailing, especially since the point of the proposal is a (or perhaps THE) Wikipedia boogeyman, Daniel Brandt.

As such Slim's proposal that

QUOTE
(2) It's speedy deleted after 72 hours if there are no objections on the talk page;

(3) Any objection would have to be on particular grounds, which our policy would spell out, but which would basically boil down to "this is an important public figure, according to reliable published sources."

(4) Those objecting would file a BLPfD, but there would have to be 75 per cent in favor of retention. Those voting to retain would have to argue that the subject is an important public figure in a particular country. Their public importance would have to be nationwide.


...won't work. It's overbroad, and could conceivably get a large number of living people to apply for their biographies removed because they're not public figures. [On the other hand, it could be fascinating to get Gary Weiss' biography in this process to see the crap fly on his notability]

Besides which, there are large numbers of people who think that any and all information that is already entered in Wikipedia should be retained at all costs, which is easy for them to say because they won't be in the firing line of a lawsuit.
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Somey
post Wed 27th December 2006, 11:13pm
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QUOTE(JohnA @ Wed 27th December 2006, 2:40pm) *
It's overbroad, and could conceivably get a large number of living people to apply for their biographies removed because they're not public figures.

I'm not sure I agree... I'd expect that the only people who might actively pursue this option are the relative few who have reasons to believe that there are people on Wikipedia who are deliberately targeting them, for personal or business reasons. It would make Wikipedia much less attractive to such people.

And that's exactly why the Wikipedians won't ever allow anything like this! Because with just a handful of exceptions, they're nearly all like that!
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blissyu2
post Thu 28th December 2006, 3:53am
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QUOTE(poopooball @ Thu 28th December 2006, 5:27am) *


Why would she read this? This is a non-notable web site, that doesn't deserve the time of day. Or so they keep telling us, as we continue to be the most mentioned web site on their IRC chats.
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guy
post Thu 28th December 2006, 9:51am
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QUOTE
Those voting to retain would have to argue that the subject is an important public figure in a particular country. Their public importance would have to be nationwide.

Obviously, that won't work. For example, while the current Governor of California is a national figure on other grounds, most have not been. How many of them should be deleted?
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thebainer
post Thu 28th December 2006, 1:21pm
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QUOTE(Daniel Brandt @ Wed 27th December 2006, 2:25am) *

So be it. I'm pretty close to convincing a competent Florida-based attorney to take this case on a contingency basis. I believe a jury will be sympathetic to my case based on the recorded facts. I also believe that a judge will be sympathetic to a plaintiff who makes a competent case that the Foundation is not immune under Section 230. (The judge decides questions of law, whereas the jury decides facts and awards damages.)


I for one would very much welcome a test case on Section 230 and other pertinent questions in the same vein, so hopefully you're actually serious this time and you'll actually go hire a lawyer and construct yourself a real case. I'm being completely serious, this is a very interesting area of law and there would be no better precedent in the area than a case against Wikimedia.

I don't understand why you're linking to that Guardian piece though, the case described there is really very dissimilar to any potential case you would be making (I am presuming of course that you plan to sue the Foundation for whatever cause of action you choose, and not the individual users who wrote your article).
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Somey
post Thu 28th December 2006, 3:38pm
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QUOTE(thebainer @ Thu 28th December 2006, 7:21am) *
I for one would very much welcome a test case on Section 230 and other pertinent questions in the same vein, so hopefully you're actually serious this time and you'll actually go hire a lawyer and construct yourself a real case.

Stephen, there are already test cases being tried in US courts as we type. Just the other day, I happened to come across a story on CourtTV about a man who's suing (and I do mean actually suing, at this very moment) a website for libel where women post stories about bad dates they've been out on, naming the men involved and everything. The website's owner is claiming protection under... you guessed it, Section 230 of the CDA!

The longer Brandt can wait, the better off he is, as far as the legal case is concerned. The more cases that come up over time, the more likely it is that such cases as a group will gain the attention of the legislature. And if any of these cases result in damages against the websites in question, then that just establishes more good precedent.

And meanwhile, Wikipedia continues to look like a gigantic cyber-bully the entire time... which it is!
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Daniel Brandt
post Thu 28th December 2006, 5:47pm
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QUOTE(thebainer @ Thu 28th December 2006, 7:21am) *

QUOTE(Daniel Brandt @ Wed 27th December 2006, 2:25am) *

So be it. I'm pretty close to convincing a competent Florida-based attorney to take this case on a contingency basis. I believe a jury will be sympathetic to my case based on the recorded facts. I also believe that a judge will be sympathetic to a plaintiff who makes a competent case that the Foundation is not immune under Section 230. (The judge decides questions of law, whereas the jury decides facts and awards damages.)


I for one would very much welcome a test case on Section 230 and other pertinent questions in the same vein, so hopefully you're actually serious this time and you'll actually go hire a lawyer and construct yourself a real case. I'm being completely serious, this is a very interesting area of law and there would be no better precedent in the area than a case against Wikimedia.

I don't understand why you're linking to that Guardian piece though, the case described there is really very dissimilar to any potential case you would be making (I am presuming of course that you plan to sue the Foundation for whatever cause of action you choose, and not the individual users who wrote your article).

The Florida jury that awarded $11.3 million in an Internet libel case has nothing to do with Section 230. I was simply hinting that if my case can get past a judge and in front of a jury, the stakes for Wikimedia are significant. Stakes this high might even interest an attorney in taking my case on a contingency basis.

As far as Section 230 goes, there is a good article that was just posted on Wikitruth. It's about Section 2257 record-keeping requirements for porn, but the situation with defamation and invasion-of-privacy and Section 230 is similar. In both cases, any evidence that Wikimedia Foundation is designed to, or in a position to, moderate content, and is aware of content that has legal implications, argues against the Foundation's presumption that it is a mere uninvolved service provider.

I have no idea what you mean when you say, "...hopefully you're actually serious this time and you'll actually go hire a lawyer and construct yourself a real case." It seems to me that I've been serious the entire time, ever since I noticed my bio in October, 2005. For example, the IRC logs that I posted this past summer contain evidence of malicious intent (see the bottom of this page). That's a significant element in my case. If the court should decide that I'm a public person rather than accept my argument that I'm a private person, then I will be required to show malicious intent in order to prevail in a defamation-of-character complaint. If I have convincing evidence of malicious intent, then the public-private issue becomes moot.

I'm not working on Web 2.0 time. I'm building a case within the confines of the statute of limitations for defamation-of-character in Florida, which is two years. The longer I hold out, the stronger my case, because it appears that time is on my side.
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anon1234
post Thu 28th December 2006, 6:26pm
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QUOTE(Daniel Brandt @ Thu 28th December 2006, 5:47pm) *


The Florida jury that awarded $11.3 million in an Internet libel case has nothing to do with Section 230. I was simply hinting that if my case can get past a judge and in front of a jury, the stakes for Wikimedia are significant. Stakes this high might even interest an attorney in taking my case on a contingency basis.


Can I invest in your lawsuit too? If I pony of say X% of your legal fees can I collect X% of your winnings? Just joking, such arrangements are probably not legal.
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Somey
post Thu 28th December 2006, 6:35pm
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QUOTE(anon1234 @ Thu 28th December 2006, 12:26pm) *
Can I invest in your lawsuit too? If I pony of say X% of your legal fees can I collect X% of your winnings? Just joking, such arrangements are probably not legal.

Actually, this is known as "champerty" - and the trend is actually away from localities prohibiting private financing of lawsuits, and towards allowing it, at least on a limited basis. Here's a semi-interesting article about it:

http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/Septemb...ok_sepoct04.msp

The law is also much less strict when it comes to non-private financing. If you felt it was worth the risk, you could theoretically set up your own litigation finance company to handle specific kinds of cases, such as Section 230 cases, and it would all be perfectly legal in just about every US state, AFAIK. But as a business, you'd have some liability issues to deal with, needless to say.
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JohnA
post Thu 28th December 2006, 11:13pm
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QUOTE
As far as Section 230 goes, there is a good article that was just posted on Wikitruth. It's about Section 2257 record-keeping requirements for porn, but the situation with defamation and invasion-of-privacy and Section 230 is similar. In both cases, any evidence that Wikimedia Foundation is designed to, or in a position to, moderate content, and is aware of content that has legal implications, argues against the Foundation's presumption that it is a mere uninvolved service provider.


Any competent lawyer would then look at the actions under WP:OFFICE and ask rhetorically: if the Foundation is merely an uninvolved service provider then why does an employee (Danny Wool) have God-like powers to delete content (and use them)?

The evidence that the Foundation is actively involved in defending itself against possible legal action by actively editing the Encyclopedia demonstrates that it acknowledges its culpability to charges of libel or slander.

I'm sure that the Foundation would be found liable for the content it publishes. I'm not sure that Daniel Brandt would benefit financially very much, largely because it would seem incongruous to a jury for a "privacy advocate" to devote so much energy to take away the privacy of Wikipedia's admins.

QUOTE(Somey @ Thu 28th December 2006, 6:35pm) *

QUOTE(anon1234 @ Thu 28th December 2006, 12:26pm) *
Can I invest in your lawsuit too? If I pony of say X% of your legal fees can I collect X% of your winnings? Just joking, such arrangements are probably not legal.

Actually, this is known as "champerty" - and the trend is actually away from localities prohibiting private financing of lawsuits, and towards allowing it, at least on a limited basis. Here's a semi-interesting article about it:

http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/Septemb...ok_sepoct04.msp

The law is also much less strict when it comes to non-private financing. If you felt it was worth the risk, you could theoretically set up your own litigation finance company to handle specific kinds of cases, such as Section 230 cases, and it would all be perfectly legal in just about every US state, AFAIK. But as a business, you'd have some liability issues to deal with, needless to say.


Champerty is totally illegal in the UK, and an MP (Jonathan Aitken) had a legal case against him dismissed because of champerty. Aitken eventually got caught telling lies when he sued The Guardian for libel and got jailed for perjery.
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guy
post Fri 29th December 2006, 10:14am
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QUOTE(JohnA @ Thu 28th December 2006, 11:13pm) *

I'm not sure that Daniel Brandt would benefit financially very much, largely because it would seem incongruous to a jury for a "privacy advocate" to devote so much energy to take away the privacy of Wikipedia's admins.

But Daniel Brandt will swear on oath that he is not and never has been a "privacy advocate", and that Wikipedia editors were malicious for insisting that he was. That must be part of his case.


My 800th posting. smile.gif
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JohnA
post Fri 29th December 2006, 11:01am
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QUOTE(guy @ Fri 29th December 2006, 10:14am) *

QUOTE(JohnA @ Thu 28th December 2006, 11:13pm) *

I'm not sure that Daniel Brandt would benefit financially very much, largely because it would seem incongruous to a jury for a "privacy advocate" to devote so much energy to take away the privacy of Wikipedia's admins.

But Daniel Brandt will swear on oath that he is not and never has been a "privacy advocate", and that Wikipedia editors were malicious for insisting that he was. That must be part of his case.


My 800th posting. smile.gif


Then I'd direct the judge to the fifth paragraph of this webpage: http://www.scroogle.org/donatesc.html
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Daniel Brandt
post Fri 29th December 2006, 12:03pm
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I am an accountability activist, and have been since 1967. From 1982 until today my main project has been NameBase, which is a database that is designed to make individuals, corporations, and groups more accountable by recording where names appear in selected books and magazine/newspaper clippings, and making the data searchable. I began collecting books and clippings in 1973.

This is not comparable to a biography on Wikipedia. It's only a list of citations, and it takes time and effort to follow up and obtain a copy of what is said in the material cited. It's not like keying a name into Google and getting the full text of a biography in the first link. The time and effort needed to follow up on NameBase citations provides the proper balance between privacy for the person cited, and public accountability for that person.

My issue with Google is that Google should be accountable and more responsive to important social issues. They should not store all the information they collect on users indefinitely. Instead, they should have data retention limits. I also have other issues with Google. I believe that PageRank amounts to the tyranny of the majority. And later, I think they sold out and AdSense is ruining the web. I believe that Google is utterly arrogant and has no social conscience whatsoever. I resent all the hype that comes out of Silicon Valley about Google. I am anti-Google, and have been since 2000. In 2002 I started an anti-Google site. The first essay was about PageRank. Later I added material about privacy.

If I was a privacy advocate, I would have started a site about cookies. Instead I started a site about Google, and included information about Google's cookie. I'm much more interested in making Google accountable than I am interested in protecting individual privacy. But with Google, the two issues are closely meshed.

The problem I had with starting the anti-Google site is that I was the first Google critic. I made a lot of enemies because everyone thought that anyone who was anti-Google had to either be nuts, or had to fit into some preconceived box, like "privacy advocate," so that they could be understood more easily. If a reporter was interested in Google, and called me, I talked to that reporter about all the issues. If he then pegged me as a "privacy advocate" in the article, I have no control over that. In the context of an article on Google, it's not important how I get labeled by a reporter, or even how I describe Scroogle. In the context of a biography on the web, which should be a balanced presentation of the whole person, it's misleading and almost malicious to call me a "privacy advocate."

The fact that I have continued to identify some Wikipedia editors and administrators will not be held against me by a jury. This is exactly what the Wikimedia Foundation feels that I should be doing, because its position is that all editors are responsible for their own edits. This means I have to identify these people. The Foundation won't help me do this. I'm on record as requesting the IP addresses those who have edited my bio, in order to facilitate their identities. I received no response.

How do you hold someone accountable if you cannot identify them?

If I criticize Wikipedia for violating my own privacy by posting a biography of me, does that make me a privacy activist? No, it makes me an accountability activist. I'm trying to hold Wikipedia, or the editors of Wikipedia, or both, accountable.

If a concern for your own privacy makes you a privacy activist, and if being a privacy activist makes you a public figure, and if being a public figure means you are no longer entitled to privacy, then this is catch-22 crap, and my reaction is that you should be held accountable for promoting crap like this.

I'm an accountability activist. It's all a question of balance. The more accountability there is, the less privacy. Society seeks to achieve this balance. One common-sense principle is that those who have more power to affect the lives of others deserve less privacy by virtue of the power that they hold. Otherwise, democracy cannot exist.

Wikipedia's editors and administrators hold power over biographies of living persons. At the same time, many of them are anonymous. When you are anonymous, you are not accountable. Fundamentally, Wikipedia is undemocratic.

By the way, I use my real name on this board, and on Wikipedia before I was banned as a user. I expect to be held accountable for what I do on Wikipedia-Watch. That's more than I can say for Wikipedians and Wikipedia.

A bio that has detail on a person going back 39 years is hardly comparable to the name, location, and photo from the web that I'm showing on hivemind. What I'm showing on Wikipedia-Watch is about the same information that is shown on your driver's license. When you are driving a car down the road, you are accountable for your driving. When a cop pulls you over, he doesn't see "SlimVirgin" or "Jayjg" on your license in place of your name, and if he did, he'd haul you off to jail. When you tell the judge that you did it to preserve your privacy, he will either keep you in jail or order a psychiatric examination.

When you are driving on Wikipedia by editing a living person's biography, you should be just as accountable as a person driving on a public road.

The only reason I was originally pegged as a privacy activist on Wikipedia (it took me five months of effort to change that) is because it allows Wikipedians to mock me as they point to the hivemind pages. All of a sudden I become a "hypocrite" or worse, a "stalker." It's just another self-serving stupidity from Wikipedia, and I don't think a jury will fall for it.
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Poetlister
post Fri 29th December 2006, 2:50pm
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QUOTE(JohnA @ Fri 29th December 2006, 11:01am) *

Then I'd direct the judge to the fifth paragraph of this webpage: http://www.scroogle.org/donatesc.html

Never mind John - even WR contributors aren't infallible.
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a view from the hive
post Sun 31st December 2006, 6:38am
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_tal...policy_proposal actually is quite interesting, it looks like there is at least some movement towards a new policy there. I might even go so far to say that the "hive" isn't acting like a "hive" anymore (at least on this issue). At least there was no block on 68.90.179.196 which I'm assuming belonged to Mr Brandt for at least a few minutes.
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