[Foundation-l] [Announcement] French lawsuit against WMF won in court

Florence Devouard Anthere9 at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 2 18:10:47 UTC 2007

An injunction was sought against WMF to force it to remove content from 
the french wikipedia, that the plaintiffs deemed defamatory and 
infringing on their privacy. The plaintiffs also sought 63,000 Euros in 
damages, and requested from the WMF to provide contact information of 
the anonymous editor responsible for the edit.

The court stated that the Foundation is a hosting provider in the sense 
of article 6 of the LCEN ("Loi pour la confiance dans l'économie 
numérique") and as such has no obligation to keep watch on the content 
that it hosts and can not be held accountable for the content added by 
contributors to the encyclopedia.

The same law states that hosting providers must remove illegal content 
when notified it exists. In this case, the dispute centred largely 
around when the Foundation was notified. The plaintiffs believed they 
had notified the Foundation via e-mail, although the Foundation has no 
record of the e-mails having been received. The court did not consider 
e-mails sufficient notification.

Also, the court stated that when a hosting provider is notified about 
libelous content, it only has to remove content that is obviously libelous.

In this case, the lawsuit was filed before the Foundation was officially 
alerted. As soon as the Foundation received official notification, it 
immediately removed the content in question.

The court also stated that once the Foundation was notified of the 
problem, it acted swiftly and removed the content. As a result, WMF won 
the lawsuit and will not have to pay for any damages. The request to 
provide the contact information of the editor responsible for the edit 
was also dismissed.


This is very good news for the Foundation. We maintain that WMF is not 
the publisher, owner or monitor on any of the Wikipedia projects (and 
obviously not the WP FR). We are pleased to have our position upheld and 
supported in a court of law.

In general, it is extremely important that we get used to quickly remove 
any defamatory content, or privacy-invasive content, as soon as it is 
brought to our attention. "We", in this case, mean "all of us". Editors 
of Wikipedia, volunteers on OTRS, staff members. The more we care about 
people requests of this type, the more we will be recognized as a 
community caring about the truth and caring about the individual. Whilst 
we must not fall into easy censorship and let ourselves be pressured to 
remove information which should be available to humanship just because 
it does not please a couple of people, it is also important to remember 
that we are a top 10 website, widely read everywhere and that any 
erroneous information on people may have huge consequences in their 
private and professional lives.

Being available to answer readers concerns *is* important. There is no 
gain for anyone to get in a court to solve such issues (except for 
lawyers in fact). Most conflicts of that sort could be solved through 

Whilst the current case was not strictly speaking a biography page, it 
involved living people. So, my email is also a reminder that policies 
such as the "biographies of living people" in the english wikipedia are 
very helpful to both protect our projects and help making sure our 
content is as reliable as possible.

Let us seek to avoid violence when violence can be avoided :-)

I suggest that every project get a look at
And consider building such policies in the near future.

A few links for more information
(in french)
(in french)
* http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Privacy_policy (in english)

Florence Devouard

The following firm represented the Foundation in this lawsuit:


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