Brazilian Court Agrees Wikipedia Can Use Publicly-Available Personal Information For An Article

from the wow,-you-don't-say dept

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about a victory in the courts for Creative Commons licenses, noting that such judgments were still rather few and far between. That's unfortunate, in the sense that some people still think CC licensing is weird, rarely-used or even invalid. The situation regarding Wikipedia is similar. Even though it has been around for 15 years -- just like Creative Commons -- it too suffers from continuing doubts about its aims and methods, and a relative dearth of legal cases helping to clarify the status of both.

Here's one from Brazil, which has recently been settled in favour of Wikipedia's parent organization, the Wikimedia Foundation. It concerns the Brazilian musician Rosanah Fienngo, who had brought a lawsuit objecting to information about her personal life being included on her Portuguese Wikipedia page. Wikimedia pointed out:

The Portuguese Wikipedia article about Ms. Fienngo contained information about her as a notable public figure in Brazil. This information included some details of her personal life, but this information was derived from public sources, most of which Ms. Fienngo had provided herself, such as an interview Ms. Fienngo gave to the gossip website O Fuxico.
You would have thought that someone who had provided details about her personal life to a gossip website would (a) realize that people might pass on that public information -- that's how gossip works -- and (b) be grateful to those who spread details she herself had chosen to make public. Fortunately, the judge seems to have understood the situation:
The court stated that although the information available on her Wikipedia page concerned her private life, Ms. Fienngo had already disclosed that information to the media herself, so its inclusion on Wikipedia was not an invasion of her privacy.
It's ridiculous that it required a court case to establish that, but the good news is the judgment should help to discourage others from bringing more such suits. Well, probably. Unfortunately, another similarity between the Brazilian Wikipedia case and the earlier Creative Commons one is that Ms. Fienngo could make an appeal, although Wikimedia notes:
We believe that the decision was strong enough that community members should feel free to make editorial decisions to write articles like the one about Ms. Fienngo.
Let's hope they're right.

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Reader Comments

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  • icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 19 Sep 2016 @ 1:40pm

    Word of the Day

    So Fienngo is Portuguese for Streisand?

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 19 Sep 2016 @ 2:56pm

    What the fuxico? How do people even do this?

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

  • identicon
    Chuck, 19 Sep 2016 @ 5:00pm

    Was it cited?

    People seem to forget "citation needed" = "unsubstantiated BS until proven otherwise."

    I don't read Portuguese, but the question here is very simple: was the personal information in question, as listed on Wikipedia, cited? Did it have a cite?

    If it did, the lawsuit was BS on its face and, frankly, Wikimedia Foundation should make a Motion for Attorney's Fees because it's pretty blatantly a frivolous lawsuit.

    If it didn't have a cite, and it has been sitting there without one for an extended period of time, an editor should've removed (or at least hidden) the information until a cite was provided.

    Sadly, while in theory this works, in practice Wikipedia's editors are quick to spot and flag problems, but very, very slow to take any actual action if a flagged problem isn't acted upon months or even several years later. During those several years, potentially false information is left online under the pretense that it's better to put forth false information as fact than to risk potentially censoring difficult-to-cite truth.

    If that sounds critical, it's because it is. I'm not blaming Wikipedia for anything here. Maintaining all the millions upon millions of article flags with an entirely volunteer force is HARD.

    But to the people with BS sitting there for 2 years or more on their Wikipedia page, none of that matters.

    So with no cite, the lawsuit is legit. With a cite, it isn't. The only question here is whether or not there was a citation.

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

  • icon
    HegemonicDistortion (profile), 20 Sep 2016 @ 4:57am

    ...Ms. Fienngo had already disclosed that information to the media herself, so its inclusion on Wikipedia was not an invasion of her privacy.

    Is the ruling really this limited? What if she hadn't disclosed that info herself, but it had been correctly reported? Could Wiki use it then?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Sep 2016 @ 6:56am

    The article was unavailable from November 2014 to September 2016. Unbelievable!

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

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