[Foundation-l] Request for your input: biographies of living people

Mike Godwin mnemonic at gmail.com
Mon Mar 2 16:08:04 UTC 2009

Nathan writes:

> I would like to see Mike's opinion, though, on how deeply the Foundation
> can
> be involved in establishing Wikimedia-wide policies on content like BLPs.
> It
> would seem to challenge the notion that the Foundation itself hosts but
> does
> not control project content.

My strong belief is that the Foundation can make *suggestions* to the
community about what content policy should be, but that *it must remain up
to the community whether to adopt such policies and how to enforce them*.
The available cases (mostly US cases, but some foreign ones) suggest that
any top-down initiative from the Foundation to control the development or
maintenance of content (including BLPs) runs the risk of being interpreted
by courts and/or legislatures as general editorial control, which would
undercut the legal principles we rely on to protect the Foundation.

In order for the Foundation to function with the least possible risk of
legal action that might threaten the projects' operation (or even
existence), we have to lower the expectation that the Foundation plays any
editorial role beyond the minimum one required by law (such as DMCA
takedowns). The Foundation is best situated when it's perceived as something
like a phone company -- a platform for other people to produce content on.


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