[Foundation-l] Wikipedia:Office Actions

Andre Engels andreengels at gmail.com
Wed Apr 25 20:53:53 UTC 2007

2007/4/25, Ray Saintonge <saintonge at telus.net>:

> >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.

I agree, but what does that have to do with what I wrote? Whether they
are exceptional or common, they are at least exceptional in the amount
of force behind it, which is, or at least should be, much greater than
the force behind "Jimbo says so" or even "it's a WMF rule".

> 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.

I do not necessarily agree. The office might be more capable of having
the judicial help to make such a decision. If there is a disagreement
between complainant an project, the WMF should itself make a decision
as to what it thinks is the acceptable solution, given that it is also
the party that could risk to lose on the issue.

> 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.

And what if the copyright owner *has* made personal complaints?

> 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.

I think it does. The only alternatives are to force each copyright
holder to go to court for even the most blatant copyright violation or
to take down each alleged copyright violation, however ridiculous that
allegation. If I send an email to the Wikimedia Foundation, claiming I
am the copyright holder of some text actually in the public domain,
should there be action to take that material off our servers? If the
complete text of a novel of Stephen King is on wikibooks, and he or
his publisher make a complaint with the WMF, should it be taken off
our servers? If you answer differently between these two questions
then the WMF IS in a position to determine facts.

> 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.

Who is talking about this? As far as I can see, we are all talking
about cases where the Foundation takes the steps to start the process,
not the project.

Andre Engels, andreengels at gmail.com
ICQ: 6260644  --  Skype: a_engels

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