Greek Politician Tries To Use Defamation Lawsuit To Gag Wikipedia, Is Rewarded With Streisand Effect

from the seems-fair dept

For those of us that tend to take Wikipedia and the way it works for granted, it comes as something of a shock to encounter someone who clearly doesn't understand it at all. That seems to be the case in a lawsuit brought by the Greek politician and academic Theodore Katsanevas against the Greek Wikipedia user and administrator Dimitris Liourdis, also known as "Diu". A post on the Wikimedia blog explains the situation:

Mr. Katsanevas complains that the Greek-language Wikipedia article about him contains some unflattering statements. Instead of addressing his concerns with the Greek-language Wikipedia community through the appropriate processes, Mr. Katsanevas chose to file a lawsuit against Diu.

The controversial statements in question reference the will of Andreas Papandreou, former Prime Minister of Greece and father-in-law of Mr. Katsanevas. The will allegedly characterized Mr. Katsanevas as a "disgrace" to the family and reportedly accused Mr. Katsanevas of "attempting to politically exploit George Papandreou", also a former Prime Minister of Greece. The statements were properly sourced and in accordance with Wikipedia policies.
It's not clear why Katsanevas thinks Diu had anything to do with the passage in question or, indeed, how he found out Diu's name, as this detailed article about the case on The Press Project points out:
An interesting question is how Mr Katsanevas identified the particular administrator. The latter has not made his personal information public. Despite this, the administrator told us in a telephone telephone interview that Mr Katsanevas had located him in 2009 at which point he had sent him notice demanding parts of the wikipedia entry be deleted.
Fortunately -- and wisely, given the broader implications of this attack on Wikipedia's editorial independence -- the Wikimedia Foundation is standing behind Liourdis:
Diu faces serious monetary and criminal penalties as a result of Mr. Katsanevas’s lawsuit. We have offered -- and Diu has accepted -- assistance through our Legal Fees Assistance Program.
The case won't reach the courts until 2016, but in a preliminary hearing the Greek judge too seemed not to grasp how Wikipedia functioned :
In an e-mail interview with Ars [Technica], Liourdis described the situation in the courtroom last week. The hearing lasted just a few minutes, he wrote, and only the lawyers were allowed to speak. "My lawyer tried to explain [to the] judge how Wikipedia works and that I couldn't effectively remove the text," he wrote. "Anybody who knows how Wikipedia works knows that if he removes ... a text, which is verified by reliable sources, finally he will [be] banned from the project. We pointed that [out], but unfortunately she didn't understand."

Liourdis followed the judge's instructions to delete the text, but sure enough, it was quickly replaced.
Techdirt readers will not be surprised to learn that this attempt to gag Wikipedia not only failed, but also provoked a familiar online response from the Wikipedia community:
The administrator noted that the lawsuit and publicity had produced a Streisand effect and that the original Greek article was now hosted in translation on multiple Wikipedias in English, Catalan, Polish, Yakut, French, German, Dutch, Spanish and Italian.
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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Mar 2014 @ 10:32am

    Greek Politician sues Wikipedia for stating the facts.

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