[Wikimedia-l] SOPA, threat or menace (was Russian Wikipedia goes on strike)

Seth Finkelstein sethf at sethf.com
Thu Jul 12 07:00:03 UTC 2012

> Anthony wrote:
> Well, it also has to be read keeping in mind that it would be
> borderline malpractice for him to have stated "if SOPA passes then
> Wikipedia will be in violation of the law and forced to shut down" -
> just in case SOPA actually did pass, forcing WMF to argue the exact
> opposite.

I perceive you've been very fortunate, in not having much experience
with lawyers. Ponder if a health care mandate is a tax or not, or
whether Mitt Romney thought it was in the past, or does now.

Moreover, there's already the problem you see in the argument where he wrote:

"Wikipedia arguably falls under the definition of an "Internet search engine,"

I'm quite sure that if SOPA actually did pass, WMF would then strongly
argue the exact opposite, that Wikipedia absolutely does not fall
under definition of an "Internet search engine" (as it is not a site
"whose primary function is gathering and reporting, ... *indexed
information* or *web sites* available elsewhere on the Internet")

> Without Citizens United upholding free speech of people who use the
> assistance of corporations, something like PIPA would be much easier
> to impose.  And the lobbying currently being done by WMF could very
> well be outlawed.  The Wikimedia Foundation is, after all, a
> corporation.

The Wikimedia Foundation's legal issues with lobbying are very far
from the Citizens United sort of case. This all could have happened
before that decision. The primary legal issue for WMF here is its
tax-exempt status and the restrictions which go along with that. Which,
sigh, is not to assert that WMF violated any such legal restrictions,
but only to point out that such legal restrictions will become a
limiting issue long before any corporations-aren't-people campaign
finance laws.

> I wonder if the WMF will shut down in protest should one of the
> proposals to amend the constitution to overturn Citizens United gain
> traction in Congress.

Well, check if the WMF starts getting large donations from the likes
of the Koch brothers or Karl Rove's Super PAC :-) . Oh, excuse me,
it would be a community decision based on the extreme danger to
Wikipedia from such measures (hmm, Wikipedia relies on the US
Constitution, so anything which amends that COULD KILL WIKIPEDIA!!!).

By the way, the Russian law has passed despite the protests:


"Russia's lower house of parliament has approved a bill that gives the
government power to blacklist websites containing what officials
consider objectionable material."

There's many dangers for pawns in being deluded they are players.

Seth Finkelstein  Consulting Programmer  http://sethf.com
Infothought blog - http://sethf.com/infothought/blog/
Interview: http://sethf.com/essays/major/greplaw-interview.php

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