[Air-l] wikipedia and defamation

Judd Antin jantin at SIMS.Berkeley.EDU
Mon Dec 5 20:06:06 PST 2005

An interesting side note: the distinction between 'transient' and 
'fixed' communication or media appears to underlay the legal notion of 
defamation. Wikipedia doesn't fit cleanly into either of those 
categories. Should a work that is universally and indefinitely editable 
be subject to the same requirements as traditional slander and libel? It 
could certainly have an effect on an individual's reputation, but at the 
same time that individual (or any other) is empowered to immediately 
remove the offending passage.


--Judd Antin
School of Information Management & Systems (SIMS)
University of California Berkeley
jantin at sims.berkeley.edu
blog: http://technotaste.com/blog

Barry Wellman wrote:
> the current AOIR debate about wikipedia highlights another problem.
> It is quite easy to make legally defamatory statements on Wikipedia.
> Normally, the remedy is a law suit for civil damages.
> But if the author is anonymous, whom does one sue?
> And yes, I know that defamation law suits are expensive and hard to do.
> But at least the legal remedy is there in principle -- when the author is
> known. But the Wikipedia approach is like someone flooding the mail with
> anonymous defamatory photocopies.
>  Barry
>  _____________________________________________________________________
>   Barry Wellman         Professor of Sociology        NetLab Director
>   wellman at chass.utoronto.ca  http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman
>   Centre for Urban & Community Studies          University of Toronto
>   455 Spadina Avenue    Toronto Canada M5S 2G8    fax:+1-416-978-7162
> 	     To network is to live; to live is to network
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