To Whom It May Concern:


My name is Brian McNeil, I am a bureaucrat and accredited reporter on Wikipedia’s sister project, Wikinews ( I am investigating allegations that have been raised on Wikipedia that material has been copied from Wikipedia in your publication.


The allegations center around the obituary for author James Crumley, the online version of this is at The current version of the Wikipedia article is located at This has undergone some revision since Crumley’s death, but some word-for-word identical sections remain.


While I wait on those who have made the allegations providing further information I would greatly appreciate knowing who was responsible for the Telegraph obituary, and what the paper’s stance on such issues is.


While the term plagiarism has been bandied about in the discussion on Wikipedia, it is more technically accurate – if true – to describe this as an infringement of the license under which Wikipedia content is provided. The license is the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL – linked to from the foot of every Wikipedia page). The terms of this license are relatively liberal in what reuse is permitted, but there is a “viral” clause to ensure that those who profit from the material share their works. The upshot of this would be that and work substantially derived from a GFDL article must also be made available under such a license.


I look forward to your response on this matter, as I hope you appreciate this is relatively urgent to maintain the timeliness of the news.







Brian McNeil

Wikinews Bureaucrat & Accredited Reporter