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gomi
The court decision itself is here. I suppose you can argue that Wikipedia is not a "message board", that postings there receive more than "minimal moderation", etc, but I suspect that would be a difficult argument to make. I don't know if there was a previous precedent, but this one is going to be hard to beat, I suspect. This doesn't mean you can't sue an editor for defamation, and force Wikipedia into supplying the information needed to find him/her. As I have noted before, it would be interesting to attempt to sue any or all editors following a defamatory edit, and get a judge to make Wikipedia reveal all of their IP info to you. In my opinion, removing routine anonymity from Wikipedia would kill it just as dead as suing it out of existence.

QUOTE

February 26, 2007 12:09 PM
Federal Court Reaffirms Immunity of Bloggers from Suits Brought Against Commenters

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides that "[no] provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider," and that "[n]o cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section." A recent decision of the First Circuit has reaffirmed the broad protection this statute provides to bloggers and message board administrators.

In Universal Communication Systems v. Lycos, a company who had allegedly been victimized by defamatory statements on a message board regarding the value of its stock sued Lycos, which operated the board. The message board allowed users to post comments with minimal moderation, and no one from Lycos was responsible for the allegedly defamatory statements.

Examining the impact of Sec. 230 on this case, the court noted that "Congress intended that, within broad limits, message board operators would not be held responsible for the postings made by others on that board," adding that allowing bloggers and message board operators to be sued for the statements of commenters on their sites would have an "obvious chilling effect" on speech. Accordingly, the court dismissed the complaint against Lycos.
Somey
Hmmm...

Well, you have to put these things in perspective. I guess someone could still argue that the nature of WP, whereby information in presented as group-authored and nobody can really sign their name to any given article once it's been edited a few times, makes it more analogous to a traditional publishing enterprise than a blog, in which everything you see is clearly one person's opinion - even if that person is anonymous. And by providing a novel software infrastructure, not to mention the direct authorial participation by various individuals such as Jimbo and the board members, it's far less of an "intermediary" - it's clearly moderated much more invasively and controllingly than something like RagingBull.com.

But whether or not that whole question is academic, I still think rulings like this hurt WP in the long term. They just make it more imperative that the actual law be changed, or at least clarified - and as time goes on, more and more powerful interests are going to start lobbying the US Congress in support of legislative action. Each new case like this one will be used as justification for making new legislation even tougher... And, ultimately, the cause of free speech will be harmed far more than it would be if companies who run websites like WP, or even RagingBull, would just take a little more responsibility for the abuses of free speech that take place on their watch.

This is putting aside the negative publicity generated by cases like this, and the fact that each case dismissal like this one just paves the way for even more people to join in on the fun of anonymously libeling people without fear of consequences.

Besides, in this case you had a American commenter on a US-based blog run by a US-based company being sued by another US-based company. WP is far more international in scope, and that alone should make it a much more useful target for anyone interested in changing US laws that help perpetuate the online personal attack business.
the fieryangel
QUOTE(Somey @ Tue 27th February 2007, 5:55am) *

Besides, in this case you had a American commenter on a US-based blog run by a US-based company being sued by another US-based company. WP is far more international in scope, and that alone should make it a much more useful target for anyone interested in changing US laws that help perpetuate the online personal attack business.


...Yeah, not to mention that the Chairperson of said foundation lives in a small village in France (and she doesn't have an unlisted phone number either....) and given the way the privacy laws work in France, you'd on just have to serve her in France and she'd run for cover in a second.....

Under French law, she's PERSONALLY responsable for anything that the Wikimedia foundation does.....meaning that she's the one who has to pay fines and go to jail, if the court so decides.....If you read this article, you'll get the name of her husband and name of their village. If you type that information into this website (clicking on the pages blanches or white pages tab), you'll get her home address and phone.

They can scream all they want about the foundation being under US law, but she's in France and the site's visible in France, so any damage could also be proven there.....
LamontStormstar
Communications decency act was originally designed to destroy the first ammendment. The whole act should be repealed.
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