Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Mike Godwin-3

Mark writes:

> It's certainly possible (and I'm not saying this is what happened
> because I have absolutely no idea) that the articles were being
> developed by someone who interviewed people who work for the
> Foundation, and that person was forbidden to submit the articles, or
> told to remove some things.

So far as I can determine, the articles were accessible by anyone in  
the world who was capable of using "Recent changes."

So whatever happened, happened "post-publication" as far as the law  
goes.

I'll note that Wikileaks is wrong to assert that the Foundation  
removed the stories. (And Slashdot is wrong to repeat this  
assertion.)  If that had been our method of operation, I could have  
removed the stories myself. Instead, we went to great lengths to  
explain what our legal concerns were, privately, to representatives of  
the community.

My view continues to be that the Foundation should almost never engage  
in direct editing or removal of project content, except (as in DMCA  
takedown notices) when we are required to do so by law.

Anything else should normally entail engagement of community members.


--Mike



\

>
> End of foundation-l Digest, Vol 50, Issue 84
> ********************************************


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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Todd Allen
On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 8:10 AM, Mike Godwin <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Mark writes:
>
>> It's certainly possible (and I'm not saying this is what happened
>> because I have absolutely no idea) that the articles were being
>> developed by someone who interviewed people who work for the
>> Foundation, and that person was forbidden to submit the articles, or
>> told to remove some things.
>
> So far as I can determine, the articles were accessible by anyone in
> the world who was capable of using "Recent changes."
>
> So whatever happened, happened "post-publication" as far as the law
> goes.
>
> I'll note that Wikileaks is wrong to assert that the Foundation
> removed the stories. (And Slashdot is wrong to repeat this
> assertion.)  If that had been our method of operation, I could have
> removed the stories myself. Instead, we went to great lengths to
> explain what our legal concerns were, privately, to representatives of
> the community.
>
> My view continues to be that the Foundation should almost never engage
> in direct editing or removal of project content, except (as in DMCA
> takedown notices) when we are required to do so by law.
>
> Anything else should normally entail engagement of community members.
>
>
> --Mike
>
>
>
> \
>
>>
>> End of foundation-l Digest, Vol 50, Issue 84
>> ********************************************
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>

"Asserting your concerns privately", from a position of authority, is
just a roundabout way of not having the "official stamp" on an
official action. If the concerns had been brought up PUBLICLY, and a
regular community discussion held (I don't know the exact way Wikinews
handles deletion discussions, I'm sure they have some procedure), and
the community agreed, then we can say it's a community action.
Otherwise, backroom stuff is backroom stuff, regardless of who pulled
the trigger.

--
Freedom is the right to say that 2+2=4. From this all else follows.

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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Mike Godwin-3
>  I'll note that Wikileaks is wrong to assert that the Foundation
>  removed the stories. (And Slashdot is wrong to repeat this
>  assertion.)  If that had been our method of operation, I could have
>  removed the stories myself. Instead, we went to great lengths to
>  explain what our legal concerns were, privately, to representatives of
>  the community.

The WMF expressing legal concerns about the stories is effectively
identical to the WMF removing the stories. The WMF wants the stories
gone, the stories go - that's the short of it. If the general counsel
of the WMF tells you there are legal concerns regarding one of your
articles, you delete the article, you don't have any say in the
matter, regardless of whether or not the WMF actually demands
deletion.

That said, the WMF removing stories because of legal concerns has
always been accepted (albeit reluctantly) by the community as
something the WMF has to do. The WMF has a responsibility to obey the
law, whether we like it or not. There is a big difference between
removing the articles due to legal concerns and, as Wikileaks seems to
claim, censoring articles critical of Wikipedia. As long as it was
just the former (and I have no evidence to suggest otherwise), I have
no problem with it.

I think the claims about losing CDA protection stem from a simple
misunderstanding of terminology. When the CDA talks about publishing
something, that refers to the bit where someone presses the "submit"
button. When Wikinews talks about publishing something, the refer to
the bit where it's decided that an article is ready to be removed from
the "in development" section. The articles were, as I understand it,
removed inbetween those two stages. As far as the CDA is concerned,
the WMF stepped in post-publication to remove content they saw a
problem with, which they are certainly allowed to do.

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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Mike Godwin-3
In reply to this post by Mike Godwin-3

Todd writes:

> I think we all may be missing the point here, however. Regardless of
> the legalities, what possible business could WMF have in keeping
> Wikinews from publishing stories that are critical of WMF? Is this not
> about as clear a conflict of interest as you get?

The Foundation has no interest in preventing Wikinews from publishing  
a story critical of WMF.  If you are under the impression the stories  
were censored because they were critical of WMF, then you have your  
facts wrong.  Anyone who says this is simply mistaken.

>  "Asserting your concerns privately", from a position of authority, is
> just a roundabout way of not having the "official stamp" on an
> official action. If the concerns had been brought up PUBLICLY, and a
> regular community discussion held (I don't know the exact way Wikinews
> handles deletion discussions, I'm sure they have some procedure), and
> the community agreed, then we can say it's a community action.

Unfortunately for your point, not all legal concerns can be discussed  
with you in advance in public.  If you think about it, you will see why.


--Mike





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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Mike Godwin-3
In reply to this post by Mike Godwin-3

Thomas writes:

> The WMF expressing legal concerns about the stories is effectively
> identical to the WMF removing the stories. The WMF wants the stories
> gone, the stories go - that's the short of it.

That is hardly the case. It's always possible for editors to refuse to  
follow our advice.   If there's a way to compel volunteer editors to  
do anything, I haven't come across it.

> If the general counsel
> of the WMF tells you there are legal concerns regarding one of your
> articles, you delete the article, you don't have any say in the
> matter, regardless of whether or not the WMF actually demands
> deletion.

If you are under the impression that I told someone they had no choice  
but to accede to my recommendations, then you are mistaken. I took the  
trouble of explaining at some length what our legal concerns were.  
These concerns included legal protection of Wikinews and its  
individual contributors.

> That said, the WMF removing stories because of legal concerns has
> always been accepted (albeit reluctantly) by the community as
> something the WMF has to do. The WMF has a responsibility to obey the
> law, whether we like it or not. There is a big difference between
> removing the articles due to legal concerns and, as Wikileaks seems to
> claim, censoring articles critical of Wikipedia. As long as it was
> just the former (and I have no evidence to suggest otherwise), I have
> no problem with it.

That's good to hear. But in this instance the WMF did not remove  
stories.



--Mike





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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Thomas Dalton
On 18/05/2008, Mike Godwin <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
>  Thomas writes:
>
>  > The WMF expressing legal concerns about the stories is effectively
>  > identical to the WMF removing the stories. The WMF wants the stories
>  > gone, the stories go - that's the short of it.
>
>
> That is hardly the case. It's always possible for editors to refuse to
>  follow our advice.   If there's a way to compel volunteer editors to
>  do anything, I haven't come across it.

Sure, but it's not going to actually happen.

>  > If the general counsel
>  > of the WMF tells you there are legal concerns regarding one of your
>  > articles, you delete the article, you don't have any say in the
>  > matter, regardless of whether or not the WMF actually demands
>  > deletion.
>
>
> If you are under the impression that I told someone they had no choice
>  but to accede to my recommendations, then you are mistaken. I took the
>  trouble of explaining at some length what our legal concerns were.
>  These concerns included legal protection of Wikinews and its
>  individual contributors.

As I explicitly said, it doesn't matter if you actually demand it or
not, just saying there are legal concerns is effectively a demand for
its removal.

>  > That said, the WMF removing stories because of legal concerns has
>  > always been accepted (albeit reluctantly) by the community as
>  > something the WMF has to do. The WMF has a responsibility to obey the
>  > law, whether we like it or not. There is a big difference between
>  > removing the articles due to legal concerns and, as Wikileaks seems to
>  > claim, censoring articles critical of Wikipedia. As long as it was
>  > just the former (and I have no evidence to suggest otherwise), I have
>  > no problem with it.
>
>
> That's good to hear. But in this instance the WMF did not remove
>  stories.

Yes, you did.

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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Jimmy Wales
Thomas Dalton wrote:
> As I explicitly said, it doesn't matter if you actually demand it or
> not, just saying there are legal concerns is effectively a demand for
> its removal.

No, it is not.



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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Jimmy Wales
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
Thomas Dalton wrote:
> There is a big difference between
> removing the articles due to legal concerns and, as Wikileaks seems to
> claim, censoring articles critical of Wikipedia.

Wikileaks is simply wrong when they say that this was an instance of
"censoring articles critical of Wikipedia".  Of course, Wikinews is
supposed to be NPOV, but within that framework there is absolutely no
prohibition about producing factual articles that would tend to show the
Wikimedia Foundation in a negative light.

--Jimbo

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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Thomas Dalton
In reply to this post by Jimmy Wales
On 18/05/2008, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Thomas Dalton wrote:
>  > As I explicitly said, it doesn't matter if you actually demand it or
>  > not, just saying there are legal concerns is effectively a demand for
>  > its removal.
>
>
> No, it is not.

Yes, it is. When a person in authority makes a suggestion that is
within the remit of that authority, there is no effective difference
between that and an order.

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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Anthony-73
In reply to this post by Mike Godwin-3
On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 10:10 AM, Mike Godwin <[hidden email]> wrote:
> My view continues to be that the Foundation should almost never engage
> in direct editing or removal of project content, except (as in DMCA
> takedown notices) when we are required to do so by law.
>
FWIW, I think that's an absolutely terrible decision that is the cause
of a great deal of completely unnecessary ill-will toward the
Foundation and its projects.  The only semi-coherent explanation for
it seems to be that it is required for protection under Section 230 of
the CDA, but as you and I both know this is absolutely not correct.
In fact, everything I have read on the matter suggests that the whole
point of Section 230 of the CDA was to allow service providers to
engage in direct removal of project content without becoming liable
for that which it failed to remove.

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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

John at Darkstar
In reply to this post by Thomas Dalton
No - yes - no - yes... nonsense, you are free to choose as you have no
legally binding contract with WMF to do as they say.

John

Thomas Dalton skrev:

> On 18/05/2008, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Thomas Dalton wrote:
>>  > As I explicitly said, it doesn't matter if you actually demand it or
>>  > not, just saying there are legal concerns is effectively a demand for
>>  > its removal.
>>
>>
>> No, it is not.
>
> Yes, it is. When a person in authority makes a suggestion that is
> within the remit of that authority, there is no effective difference
> between that and an order.
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>

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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Todd Allen
In reply to this post by Mike Godwin-3
On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 8:53 AM, Mike Godwin <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Todd writes:
>
>> I think we all may be missing the point here, however. Regardless of
>> the legalities, what possible business could WMF have in keeping
>> Wikinews from publishing stories that are critical of WMF? Is this not
>> about as clear a conflict of interest as you get?
>
> The Foundation has no interest in preventing Wikinews from publishing
> a story critical of WMF.  If you are under the impression the stories
> were censored because they were critical of WMF, then you have your
> facts wrong.  Anyone who says this is simply mistaken.
>
>>  "Asserting your concerns privately", from a position of authority, is
>> just a roundabout way of not having the "official stamp" on an
>> official action. If the concerns had been brought up PUBLICLY, and a
>> regular community discussion held (I don't know the exact way Wikinews
>> handles deletion discussions, I'm sure they have some procedure), and
>> the community agreed, then we can say it's a community action.
>
> Unfortunately for your point, not all legal concerns can be discussed
> with you in advance in public.  If you think about it, you will see why.
>
>
> --Mike
>
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
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>

I agree that not all legal concerns can be discussed publicly, and
have made that point myself. And if the Foundation believes that there
is a legal concern, it can certainly OFFICE the article in question.

In this case, however, I did look at the deleted article. I agree that
portions of it which mentioned specific persons (for obvious reason, I
will not go into more detail here), were problematic. There certainly
are parts of the article which are well-supported by reliable sources,
however, and I fail to see why those should not remain.

As to the issue of "community vs. from above", if Jimbo or you
contacted me and said "Hey, Todd, you better take this given action,"
I would generally tend to consider that an official request. If we
wanted the community to decide, we should've let them decide through
normal processes. If action needed to be taken from above, it should
have been transparently (e.g., OFFICE) marked as action from above.
The attempt to make this look like a community decision when it really
appears to be a WMF mandate ("strong suggestion", or whatever we want
to call it) is what I find disturbing here.

--
Freedom is the right to say that 2+2=4. From this all else follows.

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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Geoffrey Plourde
I fail to see why this is so controversial. I serve as an editor for a student paper. If the administration sees legal issues with something, it is their prerogative to request removal or rewriting of stories. The publisher of any major news publication has the same power. Without this power, the newspaper would be shut down due to lawsuits.  
Although some people here scream censorship, I would like to thank everyone who worked on removing the libel from our site for their vigilance which keeps the doors open and the servers on.


----- Original Message ----
From: Ryan <[hidden email]>
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <[hidden email]>
Sent: Sunday, May 18, 2008 8:13:31 AM
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 10:22 AM, Todd Allen <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I think we all may be missing the point here, however. Regardless of
> the legalities, what possible business could WMF have in keeping
> Wikinews from publishing stories that are critical of WMF? Is this not
> about as clear a conflict of interest as you get?
>
> Personally, I don't agree that Virgin Killer is child porn (or porn at
> all, I see nothing sexual at all about the image), but the fact that I
> disagree with the story makes me no less disturbed to see it getting
> quashed. I'm glad for Wikileaks, this type of thing is totally
> unacceptable, and I'm doubly disappointed to see it from WMF. (Doesn't
> Wikinews have some type of "not censored" policy? Does that only apply
> if they don't dare criticize Wikimedia?)
>

I've seen the deleted article.  I don't feel comfortable discussing
specifics, but there's no doubt in my mind that it was libelous (and on a
purely personal note, it was a horribly written article).  I would hope that
administrators, and by extension, perhaps the Foundation, would act to
remove any articles that looked like that.

The Wikimedia Foundation has not censored Wikinews on previous stories that
criticized them (the Marsden affair, for example).  When I first heard about
this, I was shocked; after reading the article itself, I realized why it was
deleted (and would have deleted it myself, honestly).

--
[[User:Ral315]]
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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Geoffrey Plourde
In reply to this post by Todd Allen
When a trained attorney says something could cause a lawsuit, generally they are right, and generally the best course of action is to kill the something in question before someone dashes to their friendly neighborhood U.S. Courthouse.


----- Original Message ----
From: Thomas Dalton <[hidden email]>
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <[hidden email]>
Sent: Sunday, May 18, 2008 9:13:59 AM
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

On 18/05/2008, Jimmy Wales <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Thomas Dalton wrote:
>  > As I explicitly said, it doesn't matter if you actually demand it or
>  > not, just saying there are legal concerns is effectively a demand for
>  > its removal.
>
>
> No, it is not.

Yes, it is. When a person in authority makes a suggestion that is
within the remit of that authority, there is no effective difference
between that and an order.

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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Dan Rosenthal
In reply to this post by Geoffrey Plourde
The issue in short form (without taking any sides on it) is that your  
student newspaper, if it writes something illegal, is liable as an  
organization. Wikimedia, however, is protected under the CDA as long  
as it acts as a provider, and not an editor. Wikileaks is implying  
that by pulling the story they are acting as an editor. Mike Godwin is  
saying otherwise. So, that's why this is controversial: because the  
issue at hand is involving the potential liability of the foundation.

-Dan
On May 18, 2008, at 1:23 PM, Geoffrey Plourde wrote:

> I fail to see why this is so controversial. I serve as an editor for  
> a student paper. If the administration sees legal issues with  
> something, it is their prerogative to request removal or rewriting  
> of stories. The publisher of any major news publication has the same  
> power. Without this power, the newspaper would be shut down due to  
> lawsuits.
> Although some people here scream censorship, I would like to thank  
> everyone who worked on removing the libel from our site for their  
> vigilance which keeps the doors open and the servers on.
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Ryan <[hidden email]>
> To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <[hidden email]
> >
> Sent: Sunday, May 18, 2008 8:13:31 AM
> Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in  
> danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act
>
> On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 10:22 AM, Todd Allen <[hidden email]>  
> wrote:
>
>> I think we all may be missing the point here, however. Regardless of
>> the legalities, what possible business could WMF have in keeping
>> Wikinews from publishing stories that are critical of WMF? Is this  
>> not
>> about as clear a conflict of interest as you get?
>>
>> Personally, I don't agree that Virgin Killer is child porn (or porn  
>> at
>> all, I see nothing sexual at all about the image), but the fact  
>> that I
>> disagree with the story makes me no less disturbed to see it getting
>> quashed. I'm glad for Wikileaks, this type of thing is totally
>> unacceptable, and I'm doubly disappointed to see it from WMF.  
>> (Doesn't
>> Wikinews have some type of "not censored" policy? Does that only  
>> apply
>> if they don't dare criticize Wikimedia?)
>>
>
> I've seen the deleted article.  I don't feel comfortable discussing
> specifics, but there's no doubt in my mind that it was libelous (and  
> on a
> purely personal note, it was a horribly written article).  I would  
> hope that
> administrators, and by extension, perhaps the Foundation, would act to
> remove any articles that looked like that.
>
> The Wikimedia Foundation has not censored Wikinews on previous  
> stories that
> criticized them (the Marsden affair, for example).  When I first  
> heard about
> this, I was shocked; after reading the article itself, I realized  
> why it was
> deleted (and would have deleted it myself, honestly).
>
> --
> [[User:Ral315]]
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-l mailing list
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> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Mark
In reply to this post by Mike Godwin-3
Mike Godwin wrote:
> My view continues to be that the Foundation should almost never engage  
> in direct editing or removal of project content, except (as in DMCA  
> takedown notices) when we are required to do so by law.
>
> Anything else should normally entail engagement of community members.
>  
To clarify, is this merely your personal view, or is it actually the
policy being adopted? That is, is [[en:WP:OFFICE]] now defunct?

-Mark


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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Gregory Maxwell
In reply to this post by Geoffrey Plourde
On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 1:25 PM, Geoffrey Plourde <[hidden email]> wrote:
> When a trained attorney says something could cause a lawsuit, generally they are right, and generally the best course of action is to kill the something in question before someone dashes to their friendly neighborhood U.S. Courthouse.

Yet Wikimedia gets email from (people claiming to be) the attorneys of
companies and people that the projects have written about, demanding
that articles be taken down or changed with some regularity, but as
far as I can tell their demands are not met with some regularity.

Wikinews, in particular, contains a lot of non-neutral and highly
opinionated material.  I've complained about WN on the lists a number
of times.  The articles posted to Wikileaks were, in my somewhat
considered opinion, far closer to non-libelous than some other
material on WN, but this is the first time that I'm aware of the WMF
directing the users to remove an article due to concerns like this.
(Thats not to say that it hasn't happened before, ... such things
don't tend to leave obvious public records).

The CDA argument is completely spurious. As Mike said, the case law
says otherwise (Zeran v. AOL).  The theory that service providers must
be totally hands-off in order to retain immunity is a common piece of
slashdot armchair lawyer idiocy. Usually they chalk it up to "common
carrier status" but now it seems to be fashionable to chalk it up to
CDA 230. The irony is that CDA 230 is a big part of the reason why
that isn't true.

One of the biggest effects CDA 230 had was reversing the judicial
trend assigning responsibility for posts to providers who perform any
form of moderation (For example, Stratton-Oakmont & Porush v. Prodigy
which is no longer good law).  Today, if the provider didn't have
knowledge of the libelous material posted by a user then you shouldn't
expect them to be held liable no matter how censorious, non-neutral,
or even sloppy they are. Moderation, including incomplete or
incompetent moderation, doesn't break the immunity provided by S. 230.

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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Geoffrey Plourde
In reply to this post by Todd Allen
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the liability only extends until they are made aware of it, right?



----- Original Message ----
From: Dan Rosenthal <[hidden email]>
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <[hidden email]>
Sent: Sunday, May 18, 2008 10:28:43 AM
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

The issue in short form (without taking any sides on it) is that your 
student newspaper, if it writes something illegal, is liable as an 
organization. Wikimedia, however, is protected under the CDA as long 
as it acts as a provider, and not an editor. Wikileaks is implying 
that by pulling the story they are acting as an editor. Mike Godwin is 
saying otherwise. So, that's why this is controversial: because the 
issue at hand is involving the potential liability of the foundation.

-Dan
On May 18, 2008, at 1:23 PM, Geoffrey Plourde wrote:

> I fail to see why this is so controversial. I serve as an editor for 
> a student paper. If the administration sees legal issues with 
> something, it is their prerogative to request removal or rewriting 
> of stories. The publisher of any major news publication has the same 
> power. Without this power, the newspaper would be shut down due to 
> lawsuits.
> Although some people here scream censorship, I would like to thank 
> everyone who worked on removing the libel from our site for their 
> vigilance which keeps the doors open and the servers on.
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Ryan <[hidden email]>
> To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <[hidden email]
> >
> Sent: Sunday, May 18, 2008 8:13:31 AM
> Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in 
> danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act
>
> On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 10:22 AM, Todd Allen <[hidden email]
> wrote:
>
>> I think we all may be missing the point here, however. Regardless of
>> the legalities, what possible business could WMF have in keeping
>> Wikinews from publishing stories that are critical of WMF? Is this 
>> not
>> about as clear a conflict of interest as you get?
>>
>> Personally, I don't agree that Virgin Killer is child porn (or porn 
>> at
>> all, I see nothing sexual at all about the image), but the fact 
>> that I
>> disagree with the story makes me no less disturbed to see it getting
>> quashed. I'm glad for Wikileaks, this type of thing is totally
>> unacceptable, and I'm doubly disappointed to see it from WMF. 
>> (Doesn't
>> Wikinews have some type of "not censored" policy? Does that only 
>> apply
>> if they don't dare criticize Wikimedia?)
>>
>
> I've seen the deleted article.  I don't feel comfortable discussing
> specifics, but there's no doubt in my mind that it was libelous (and 
> on a
> purely personal note, it was a horribly written article).  I would 
> hope that
> administrators, and by extension, perhaps the Foundation, would act to
> remove any articles that looked like that.
>
> The Wikimedia Foundation has not censored Wikinews on previous 
> stories that
> criticized them (the Marsden affair, for example).  When I first 
> heard about
> this, I was shocked; after reading the article itself, I realized 
> why it was
> deleted (and would have deleted it myself, honestly).
>
> --
> [[User:Ral315]]
> _______________________________________________
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>
>
>
>
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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Mike Godwin-3
In reply to this post by Mike Godwin-3
Anthony writes:

>
>  On Sun, May 18, 2008 at 10:10 AM, Mike Godwin  
> <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> My view continues to be that the Foundation should almost never  
>> engage
>> in direct editing or removal of project content, except (as in DMCA
>> takedown notices) when we are required to do so by law.
>>
> FWIW, I think that's an absolutely terrible decision that is the cause
> of a great deal of completely unnecessary ill-will toward the
> Foundation and its projects.

I think there will be unnecessary ill will towards the Foundation and  
its projects no matter what we do or do not do.  That is the nature of  
the world or at least of Foundation-l. But I think there would be more  
unnecessary ill will towards the Foundation and its projects if the  
Foundation used a heavier hand in removing content, precisely because  
it would give rise to the expectation that the Foundation is  
positioning itself in a fundamentally editorial role.  Look how much  
ill will is generated simply because I suggested to members of the  
community that there are legal problems associated with a couple of  
Wikinews articles!  Thomas Dalton, for example, thanks that's the  
equivalent of an order.  Me, I think it's better to explain what's  
going on and ask the community to do the right thing in the hope that  
they will take my advice.

If I did what you suggest, and simply removed material from Wikinews  
that I thought would generate a legal problem, there would still be  
ill-will ("Censorship!"), and I'd still be called upon to justify the  
removal, and there's still be ginned-up controversy.  In addition,  
potential litigants would perceive the Foundation as playing a heavier  
editorial role than it does, and would be more likely to sue us in the  
hope of either getting the statutory immunity overturned or of getting  
it construed in a way that diminishes its protection. I believe it  
helps to think through what the social consequences of the direct  
action.

> The only semi-coherent explanation for
> it seems to be that it is required for protection under Section 230 of
> the CDA, but as you and I both know this is absolutely not correct.
> In fact, everything I have read on the matter suggests that the whole
> point of Section 230 of the CDA was to allow service providers to
> engage in direct removal of project content without becoming liable
> for that which it failed to remove.


That's a correct reading of the reasoning behind Sec. 230.  And if  
you're AOL or MSN or abc.com or Google, you can afford to pay for a  
dozen summary judgments in your favor every week, on Sec. 230 grounds.

That's not us, however.  Better than defending Sec. 230 every time it  
comes up is to lower the public's expectation that the Foundation is  
going to step in and fix everything for a would-be plaintiff.  That  
way, we spend less donated money on cases.

Now, you may be wealthy, Anthony, and so it may seem sensible to you  
to invite lawsuits that you can then get dismissed on Sec. 230 grounds  
-- a kind of very expensive version of whack-a-mole.

But if the purpose of our engagement with the community of editors is  
to empower them to add to the availability of the sum of human  
knowledge, then it makes sense to empower the community to fix as many  
problems with the content they provide as possible, rather than take  
that responsibility away from them and place it in, say, me or Sue or  
Cary. So I prefer to advise community members rather than give them  
orders (as if they felt any obligation to follow my orders, which  
hardly anyone does), and I believe it's wiser to reserve my own  
ability to remove content even though Sec. 230 allows it.  That may  
seem like an "absolutely terrible decision" to you (not merely  
terrible, but "absolutely" so!), but perhaps you're a better attorney  
than I am.

I should add that there is a complicating factor with regard to Sec.  
230, and that's that while simple removal is protected, it's unclear  
whether every court would agree that more subtle substantive editing  
is protected -- by engaging in the development of the content of an  
article, the Foundation and its agents or employees may  
unintentionally negate Sec. 230 immunity, depending on the scope and  
substance of the editing.  That's a legal question that I'm studiously  
avoiding investing the Foundation's donated funds in finding an answer  
to.  I'd rather see a richer defendant sort that one out for us.


--Mike







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Re: Fwd: [WL-News] Wikimedia Foundation in danger of losing immunity under the Communications Decency Act

Mike Godwin-3
In reply to this post by Mike Godwin-3

Todd Allen writes:

> I agree that not all legal concerns can be discussed publicly, and
> have made that point myself. And if the Foundation believes that there
> is a legal concern, it can certainly OFFICE the article in question.

My belief is that OFFICE removals should be very rare, and that OFFICE  
edits should be practically nonexistent.

> As to the issue of "community vs. from above", if Jimbo or you
> contacted me and said "Hey, Todd, you better take this given action,"
> I would generally tend to consider that an official request. If we
> wanted the community to decide, we should've let them decide through
> normal processes. If action needed to be taken from above, it should
> have been transparently (e.g., OFFICE) marked as action from above.

This is, if you think about it, a false dichotomy. There are choices  
between OFFICE action and doing nothing. Those choices include  
"giving advice" or "making a request." It depends on whether you think  
the community should be empowered to make its own decisions but still  
be able to hear advice or requests from the Foundation.  I happen to  
think that we're sufficiently unintimidating (witness this list, for  
example) that advice or a request can be rejected.

> The attempt to make this look like a community decision when it really
> appears to be a WMF mandate ("strong suggestion", or whatever we want
> to call it) is what I find disturbing here.

So the theory here is that we're clever enough to cloak an OFFICE  
action as a community action, and even to convince some community  
members that they believe they're merely acting on advice rather than  
under a "WMF mandate," but not quite clever enough to fool you about  
our cloaked agenda?

I confess it is a terrible burden for us, being smart enough to cook  
up such schemes but not smart enough to fool you entirely.  :)


--Mike




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