[Foundation-l] Wikipedia:Office Actions

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Wed Apr 25 20:28:50 UTC 2007

Andre Engels wrote:

>2007/4/25, Delirium <delirium at hackish.org>:
>>Why is there a need for an office action in this case?  My understand is
>>that office actions are for time-sensitive matters that are particularly
>>unusual. Deleting copyright violations is a very normal thing that we do
>>routinely; there's no need for some sort of Official Intervention to do
>>so, and even Normal Wikipedians can request such deletions and have
>>their requests honored.
>In my opinion an office action necessary to specify that this actually
>is not a request but an order. If I ask for a copyright violation to
>be deleted, the people from the wiki where I do the request may still
>decide that in their opinion it is not one, and let the text or image
>stay. Against an office action they would not have such a choice.
OFFICE actions should be exceptional, and should never be a vehicle to 
push someone's POV.  They should reflect a credible and imminent 
likelihood of legal action.  Where libel is the alleged offence it 
should provide an opportunity for senior responsible editors to make a 
dlligent review the information in the article to insure that what is 
said is not libellous.  Once that has been done it should not prevent 
the substantiated material from being restored.

This is not about copyright violations.  These should be kept out of the 
OFFICE action system completely.  There are already rules in law that 
give a copyright owner the opportunity to challenge infringements of his 
copyrights so that they will be taken down.  If the copyright owner has 
not personally made any complaints whatsoever _any_ use of OFFICE for 
this should be viewed as abusive.

If WMF steps in to make a finding of fact in what is otherwise an honest 
dispute about whether a particular passage is a copyright infringement 
it does not decrease its exposure to liability, it increases it.  It 
proclaims editorial control that would not be there if it were only a 
pure ISP.  Such a stand by the Foundation is not tantamount to 
permitting any copyvio that a person puts into a project.  It is enough 
that WMF has a copyright policy in place; it does have that, and that 
policy is already more conservative than what is found in US law.  That 
does not mean that it should be in the business of finding fact.  Even 
when an outsider complains that his copyrights have been violated it is 
still not in a position to determine facts.  It must, however, respond 
appropriately to legal demands on both sides of the issue; it has no 
obligation at all to respond to third parties that lack any personal 
interest in the matter.

Most disputes about these things must be solved at the project level.  
Maintaining an editorial distance between WMF and the projects is 
absolutely vital!  It becomes very difficult to do this when the 
pprojects ask the Foundation to solve problems that they should be 
solving themselves.


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