Before Suing Wikipedia, Maybe Do A Wikipedia Search On Section 230 Of The CDA

from the you-don't-get-to-edit-the-law dept

A literary agent named Barbara Bauer has sued Wikipedia for defamation after someone put a page up on Wikipedia that was quite negative about her -- with statements saying that she was the "dumbest of the twenty worst" agents, who has "no documented sales at all." There's no denying that the page on her was quite questionable, but that's also why Wikipedians quickly deleted it. While it was brought back a few times, each time, it was quickly deleted as being a rather obvious "attack page." As one Wikipedian wrote, the page was a bloody disgrace.

That said, it seems doubly wrongheaded to sue Wikipedia for this. First, as we've discussed many, many times, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) protects sites from the actions of their users. She has every right to go after whoever put up the page in the first place. But she shouldn't be blaming Wikipedia for it -- and any lawyer who would file this lawsuit should have known that and made it clear to her as well. Furthermore, this is a pure Streisand Effect situation. Before this, chances are that almost no one had seen the Wikipedia page. It was not up very long before it was deleted, and there probably just weren't that many people searching for her. Yet now, thanks to this, her name will forever be associated both with the claims she's trying to hide from the various news stories about this case, but those searching on her name will also see that she's filing lawsuits like this one. Again, this is something that her lawyer should have known. Of course, there are Wikipedia pages on both Section 230 and The Streisand Effect. A quick look around Wikipedia may have helped to avoid this unnecessary lawsuit against Wikipedia.

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  1. identicon
    Wireless Speech Recognition, 5 May 2008 @ 1:18pm

    A nuiscance settlement pursuit

    Ms. Bauer, and every attorney she's spoken with, undoubtedly knows such litigation is w/o basis. Nonetheless, there are probably a dozen lawyers (no offense to the industry intended) who'll roll the dice on a contingency percentage. (Sigh) Just a disappointing reminder.. The Team

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Peter, 5 May 2008 @ 1:31pm

    It would appear that Ms/Mrs Bauer is trying to live up to the image of being the "dumbest".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Matt, 5 May 2008 @ 1:31pm

    DMCA abuse

    Aren't the fines for DMCA abuse if they countersue pretty hefty? Couldn't wikipedia actually make a pretty big sum if they go that route, IIRC?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Hellsvilla, 5 May 2008 @ 1:39pm

    huh? dmca?

    what part of this looks like it has anything to do with the dmca?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    mATT, 5 May 2008 @ 1:49pm

    Re: huh? dmca?

    The part where I was a moron and didn't read properly. please delete this and my last post, mike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Zephyros, 5 May 2008 @ 1:50pm

    Re: huh? dmca?

    Just in case even this little bit is tl;dr for you, here's a simple breakdown to answer your question: Section 230 of the DMCA states that they're not liable for what other people post using their service.

    If you'd bothered to read the "Section 230" Wiki page above, you might have found the answer to your question.

    "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."

    Wikipedia satisfies the three-prong test they discuss.
    1) They provide an interactive computer service.
    2) The plaintiff is suing them as the publisher or speaker of the defamatory information.
    3) The information was posted by another information content provider -- whoever added the page.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Celes, 5 May 2008 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re: huh? dmca?

    Er... except it's Section 230 of the CDA, not DMCA...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Igor The Troll, 6 May 2008 @ 12:30am

    Diva Galore!

    Sound like she is drumming up some business for herself.

    Publicity is publicity even when it is negative!

    The more noise she makes the more attention she gets.

    Makes one wonder if she was not the one who made the negative page about herself by herself! ;-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Lisa Westveld, 6 May 2008 @ 3:58am

    Who is she anyways?

    Wait! I know. I'll look her up at Wikipedia... :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    known coward, 6 May 2008 @ 7:21am

    A question

    Wikipedia does change and edit content and occasionally take down articles on their own volition, does that not s qualify them as a publisher under CDA?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Carolyn, 6 May 2008 @ 8:00am

    Uh, a known scammer

    Barbara Bauer has been busy suing every writer or agent or well, gee, anybody who dares to suggest there may be something fishy about her. This should come as no surprise to anyone who writes. Look through the archives at if you want to know about Barabara Bauer.

    It's really not fair to suggest that this is in any way a rational series of actions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Ron, 7 May 2008 @ 12:39pm

    Here's a great thread from 2006 about the infamous Barbara Bauer and her spot on Writer Beware's 20 worst agents list. If you want the lowdown on the showdown, this is it. Key point: nothing has changed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    John Smith, 30 Mar 2012 @ 1:21pm

    I totally disagree

    Bauer was cyberbullied, not only by the posters but by Wikipedia. Before she filed suit she wrote to them umpteen times on registered mail, etc. etc. The reply: We are going to put up your biography.
    So Wikipedia administrators put up her biography, people who did not know anything about her.
    They kept the bio up for over a year, not as you say taking it down. Your report is simply false.
    Makes me wonder if you got a "donation" from Wikipedia to write this story.
    At any rate, they only deleted it after process papers were served, and even tried to say she had not served the papers properly which just goes to show how cheap and irresponsible they truly are.
    As for Judge Perri, she gave a truly bad example to the Rutgers students who bullied tyler Clemente on the internet by posting lewd videos.
    In Bauer's case, the posters posted lewd altered photos and videos of Bauer, made sexual slurs against her and her family members, some of whom where under age at the time. Wikipedia had the power, and they said "F you"to Bauer, since they had the power to ruin a life.
    That is the type of Wikipedia we have. They take 10 million bucks from the Sloan Foundation so Jimmy Wales can run with the jet set and screw around with models and actresses. In my opinion, Wikipedia is the scum of the earth. May they choke on the 10 million they got from Sloan Foundation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Tyler Smith, 8 Apr 2013 @ 1:33pm

    Writer Beware's Attorney Suspended for Cheating Steinbeck Estate

    It seems so weird that a group of individuals like Writer Beware, whose attorney, Charles Petit, was actually being tried for fraud, at the same time they were lying about Bauer's commercial sales to publishing companies would be quoted as an authority by one of your posters. It ended up he was suspended from practicing law in Illinois for defrauding the John Steinbeck estate. Writer Beware is made up of a bizarre group of sociopaths, and should not be taken seriously. They never showed up in court to prove the truth of any of their many lies, just hid under the cloak of "immunity." That doesn't inspire much confidence. Why did they not prove that Bauer's Ph.D. was a fake like they had stated on their blogs and forums? Simply put, they couldn't prove it because they are psychos whose brains are in their butts, talking with their asses and not their heads. And of course, the internet flunkies always say, "If it's on the internet, it must be true." Wikipedia loves that philosophy. It makes it easier for them to make propaganda and control people's minds.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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