[Foundation-l] svwikis evil twin, Metapedia

Robert Scott Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Wed Feb 7 19:55:45 UTC 2007

Lennart Guldbrandsson wrote:

>(I´m new to this emaillist so please forgive any mistakes I make.)
>I´m the press contact for the Swedish Wikipedia (
>http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anv%C3%A4ndare:Hannibal). Recently I was
>contacted by a journalist who pointed out a fairly new wiki called
>Metapedia, at http://www.metapedia.se, which was founded by a known racist
>and leader of a small nationalistic (and antidemocratic) party in Sweden (I
>can give several newspaper articles to back up that claim.). I checked it
>out and discovered several things:
>1. It used MediaWiki and thus look *very* similiar to Wikipedia. Even their
>logo is in the same colour range. One could easily mistake one for the
>other. This is one spinoff effect of the free MediaWiki, and probably one we
>will see again. But the site uses the same phrases as svwiki, such as
>Läsvärd artikel (featured article) and so on.
Such phrases are not trademarked, nor as I'm aware something you could 
trademark, which would be the only reason to consider them protected 
anyway.  The "look and feel" might be copyrighted by somebody, but I'm 
not sure exactly who would hold out here, especially if most of this is 
part of the standard install of MediaWiki software.  That interface 
would be GPL'd because of the software.  The "main page" might be 
copyrighted by specific Swedish Wikipedia contributors, but that is even 
debatable here and not something to worry to hard about.

>2. It has around 1300 articles, but the majority is about either a) people
>connected to nazism, holocaust denial or critics of the Jewish conspiracy
>(and their works)
While not something I would do personally, there is nothing here illegal.

>3. Their articles are often copied and edited versions of the svwiki
>counterparts, with apparent POV-slant in their favour. 

>Since Wikipedia is GFDL they could easily have borrowed that article. (But I
>guess it didn´t suit their purposes.)
This is where they might get into a bit of trouble.  This is not a 
violation of the terms of the GFDL to have copied these articles and 
altered them in such a fashion, but they must also pass on the same 
licensing terms onto others who come and visit their website.  If you or 
somebody you know (with a note on the Swedish Wikipedia's village pump, 
for instance) want to enforce your copyright on content you have 
written, you might want to let this website owner know that you would 
like the full terms of the GFDL to be enforced.  Who knows, you might 
even be able to move some of these articles back to sv.wikipedia if they 
are of any better quality, of course correcting for POV issues.

>4. They have given the licence *both* as GFDL *and* have what in Swedish is
>called "ansvarig utgivare" (roughly "legally responsible publisher"). Does
>this makes sense? Also, they have not given the full text of the
>GFDL-licence. Don´t you have to do that?
Even Wikimedia projects have had some problems with this in the past, so 
I wouldn't throw stones too far on this one.  The full text must be 
linked somehow and "on the network", however you want to define that.  A 
"local copy" on the website itself would be a good idea, but I'm not 
sure how necessary that is from a legal standpoint.  A copy is required 
to be in the same medium, such as a paper copy of the license if you 
have a printed version, or it must be a file on a CD-ROM, etc.

>My question is how to handle this. Can we do anything else beside complain
>and try to outdo Metapedia by being sooo much better? Unfortunally, I
>suspect that this may be the price of free software and free content, but
>shouldn't Wikipedia be able to protect its reputation somehow? The
>journalist who called me seemed to hold Wikipedia in high esteem and seemed
>also to want to know what would be our reaction to this "evil twin"-version
>of Wikipedia. I hope you can help me with your opinion.
>I await your answers.
>Best regards,
>Lennart, aka Hannibal
If there are copyright violations, you can try and enforce the 
copyright.  That would mean enforcing the GFDL.  I'm not familiar with 
Swedish copyright and publishing law, but there may be some libel issues 
if the POV goes a little to far for somebody who is currently living, 
such as en.wikipedia had with John Siegenthaler.  In that case it would 
be the person who is "featured" that would have to start legal action if 
they didn't like what was being said about them.  

There may be something like the German law that restricts the usage of 
symbols of the Nazi party and name, but I hope you know what would apply 
in Sweden in that situation.  All you could do there anyway is to 
contact the appropriate law enforcement agency if it is illegal.

Otherwise, don't give them too much attention.  Groups like this love 
and seek attention, and if you deprive them of that attention they soon 
fold up and disappear.  Because this group obviously has an axe to grind 
and political message, I wouldn't worry about trying to compete and out 
do them.  se.wikipedia is in a strong enough position that the best 
response you can give to a reporter is "Yeah, I've heard about them. 
 They have nothing to do with Wikipedia."  Don't comment any more, and 
if you are pressed for more from a reporter, note that the content of 
se.wikipedia is available under the GFDL, and that anybody can copy this 
content, even if you don't necessarily agree with their political 
idologies.  It might end up being a rather interesting conversation 
about free content licenses and what even the reporter and their 
newspaper could do with Wikipedia articles.

Robert Scott Horning

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