Free Speech

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
censorship, copyright, dmca, take downs, transparency


Kudos To Wikimedia Foundation For Resisting All Government Requests To Censor Content

from the good-to-see dept

Wikimedia's new Transparency Report has been getting some attention, in part because it brought attention back to the whole monkey selfie copyright debacle. However, the rest of the transparency report itself is rather interesting, starting with the fact that it appears that Wikimedia rejected every request to pull down information (unrelated to copyright, which we'll get to in a second). In most transparency reports, this involves government and law enforcement requests to censor content, along with the occasional claims of defamation and whatnot. Either way, Wikimedia felt a grand total of none of them were legit:
Admittedly, takedown requests to Wikimedia are a bit different than many other sites since anyone can just go in and edit the page themselves, but such changes will often be reverted, so it's less permanent. On the copyright front, Wikimedia did agree to abide by some DMCA requests, but it does seem notable that it's well less than half of all such requests:
These days, with so many sites immediately rolling over when someone complains, it's good to see Wikimedia being willing to stand up against censorship attempts.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    DanJ (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 5:01pm

    Copyright claim on an entire language

    From the report:

    A Tasmanian aboriginal language center demanded the removal of the English Wikipedia article on 'palawa kani', claiming copyright over the entirety of the language. We refused to remove the article because copyright law simply cannot be used to stop people from using an entire language or to prevent general discussion about the language. Such a broad claim would have chilled free speech and negatively impacted research, education, and public discourse—activities that Wikimedia serves to promote.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 5:53pm

    So what's stopping a government from simply claiming copyright on the leaked documents and demanding that the documents be pulled down?

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

  3. icon
    Dirk Ruffly (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 6:11pm

    Does 0% REALLY mean none?

    It's worth noting that the Wikimedia Foundation page referenced in the article does not actually say that zero requests for take down were honored (well, at least I didn't see it ... go ahead and make me feel foolish by correcting me.)

    The site actually says "0%" were honored, which if they are rounding to the nearest integer using any of the common rounding algorithms could mean that one request was honored.

    Just saying.

    The current (non)privacy climate sure breeds suspicion and paranoia.

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

  4. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 6:14pm


    I think you might be confusing Wikileaks, which is the one hosting the documents the various governments would really like to disappear, and the Wikimedia Foundation, which is involved in Wikipedia. As far as I know, other than similar names, there is nothing linking them.

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

  5. icon
    MadAsASnake (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 12:05am

    What strikes me is the total numbers. Compared to the likes of what Google gets, it's a drop in the ocean. I guess they aren't being targeted by the MPAA and RIAA

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

  6. icon
    PaulT (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 1:12am

    Nice to see, and it's nice to see some pushback against this kind of thing, especially given the level of investigation they seem to be putting into the DMCA requests. Remember, compliance with a DMCA notice doesn't mean it was valid. It may just mean that the independent 3rd party it was targeted at doesn't have the time or inclination to fight it given that they don't have direct knowledge of either party's actions.

    The breakdown is great to see, although it's clearly just a few select highlights. It's a shame to see a copyright notice against an entire language, of all things. You know the copyright maximalists have corrupted the landscape when a complete method of communication is attempted to be locked up, for whatever reason.

    Another example of how ridiculous this thing has become is the DMCA notice of a photo of the Obama/Mandela meeting. As described, it should have been public domain, but actually wasn't because of the capacity in which the photographer was working at that moment. Even though, it would normally be a public domain image has he been working officially at the time.

    In other words, to correctly identify the copyright, you not only have to know the setting and ownership of the photo but the exact status of the photographer's employment at the time it was taken. But, remember, kids, Google can just write an algorithm that can correctly identify copyright without fail, it's that easy! What a shame some people are stupid enough to believe that.

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

  7. icon
    Matthew Cline (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 1:15am

    Re: Copyright claim on an entire language

    Well, it is a constructed/artificial language, so making a copyright claim on it isn't nearly as absurd as would an attempt to claim copyright on, say, English.

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

  8. icon
    Eldakka (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 1:22am

    Re: Re:

    Not to mention, at least in the case of the US Federal government, it's constitution specifically denies it the ability to copyright it's works.

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

  9. icon
    PaulT (profile), Aug 7th, 2014 @ 1:35am

    Re: Re: Copyright claim on an entire language

    True, but the sole purpose of a language is to allow others to communicate with each other. Even if there's a claim somewhere, it's absurd that such a thing would be copyrightable. Especially in this case, in fact, since (according to the Wikipedia article, anyway), it was created as a way of preserving some elements of languages that are now extinct.

    So, you create a new language to replace those that have become extinct, only to... lock that up behind copyright so that nobody speaks it and it becomes unused and extinct? WTF?

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

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