[Foundation-l] Wikinews - not so much a state of the wiki

Anthony wikimail at inbox.org
Tue Dec 4 19:54:35 UTC 2007

On Dec 4, 2007 1:59 PM, Robert Rohde <rarohde at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Dec 4, 2007 9:58 AM, Anthony <wikimail at inbox.org> wrote:
> > On Dec 4, 2007 11:57 AM, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > One reason we don't have editorial control of any kind is because with
> > > editorial control comes editorial responsibility. At the moment, any
> > > libel (or whatever) is solely the responsibility of the person that
> > > added it (at least, until WMF is formally notified). If someone takes
> > > editorial control, by my understanding, they would also be liable for
> > > anything illegal on the site.
> > >
> > Where does this understanding come from?  And what jurisdiction(s) are
> > you talking about?
> >
> Both for copyright and libel there are provisions in the US that limit the
> liability of "service providers" for the actions of their users.  Generally,
> part of liability protection comes from the conclusion that the service
> provider is unaware of the negative behavior of the users.
I think you're going to have to cite some sources for that, post
Section 230, as far as the US goes.  Because the cases I have read
have contradicted that point.  Specifically, I'm thinking of [[Barrett
v. Rosenthal]].

> My understanding is that if there were a full-fledged editor responsible for
> approving every story then that person (or organization) could be liable in
> the event that something they approved was found to libelous or otherwise
> injurious to a third party.  Or in other words once you put in a filter on
> submitted content, you may be responsible when negative content
> inappropriately gets through that filter.
Again, in the US, that argument has explicitly been brought up and
rejected.  The whole point of Section 230 was to *encourage*
self-policing and filtering.  If services which filtered content were
held to a higher standard, that would *discourage* self-policing and
filtering using the very argument you are now making.

> However, as far as I know, there is very little in the way of case law that
> actually addresses the liability associated with massive collaboration
> systems, like wikis.  It is unclear to me what liability a volunteer editor
> might have when confronted with the injurious statements of another
> volunteer contributor.
The fact that it is a massive collaboration system likely is
irrelevant.  Section 230 of the CDA provides immunity to both a
"provider or user of an interactive computer service".  It has been
said that this immunity is essentially applicable to anyone who
communicates over the Internet, so long as the information is
"provided by another information content provider".

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