[Wikimediaindia-l] Wikipedia gets worried about legal liability in India

Anivar Aravind anivar.aravind at gmail.com
Wed Feb 23 07:30:28 UTC 2011


Dynamic content so copy-pasting relevant text

Foundation appoints "consultant for National Programs" in India,
following search for National Program Director

The Wikimedia Foundation has appointed a "consultant for National
Programs, India", whose role will be "to design and implement specific
pilot programs that encourage many more Indians to become contributors
to our projects in Indic languages as well as English." The new
position is being filled by Hisham Mundol, who worked on "large-scale
national programs on HIV/AIDS prevention" when he was a consultant for
the Public Health Foundation of India. As Hisham Mundol said in his
first IRC office hours, he speaks Hindi, Malayalam and English, and is
currently based in Delhi.

The announcement by the Wikimedia Foundation's Chief Global
Development Officer, Barry Newstead, explained that Mundol is "a
newcomer to the Wikimedia movement [who] will be spending the coming
weeks (not months!) in learning mode". In an FAQ on the new position,
it was explained that among the 179 applications, there were only
seven from active Wikimedians, who do not have the required

The Foundation had not been advertising a job opening for a consultant
for National Programs. Instead, the job opening in last August was for
a "National Program Director, India", who would have been "the
Wikimedia Foundation's chief representative in India". Newstead did
not mention the previous job title or explain the modifications,
except to note in the FAQ that the new position was as consultant
rather than a staffer, partly because "we want to keep our options
open in regards to the potential structure of future Wikimedia
Foundation operations in India". It is likely that concerns about such
a director's exposure to legal liability for Wikimedia content may
have played a role. Asked in the IRC office hour about "the strategy
we have for dealing with legal issues in India", Newstead emphasized
that the Indian chapter and "Hisham, who is an independent contractor,
have NO control over Wikimedia content as organizations." Discussing
such concerns further, he advised the Indian chapter to get a good
legal counsel, and align with organizations like the Centre for
Internet and Society (CIS), which might be inclined to support

"[It is not] possible to distinguish between 'numerical' and
'nonnumerical' algorithms, as if numbers were somehow different from
other kinds of precise information." - Donald Knuth

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