Wikimedia Wins Lawsuit in Italy

20 August 2013 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

A court ruled that under Italian law wiki content is not the responsibility of the host, rather those 80,000 active monthly contributors to Wikipedia who create and post the content. On June 20, 2013, the Civil Court of Rome ruled against Cesare Previti (former Italian Minister of Defense during Silvio Berlusconi’s term as Prime Minister). The Wikimedia Foundation, of which Wikipedia is a part, posted a blog about Mr. Previti claims that:

...the Italian-language Wikipedia article “Cesare Previti,” — which he characterized as “pseudo-journalistic gossip fed by totally unreliable people” — contained inaccurate and defamatory statements.

Wikimedia’s blog included these two factors to establish that Wikimedia was not liable based on whether:

  • the Wikimedia Foundation is clear about its role in the creation of content and
  • there are procedures by which a person could address possible errors in the content

Further the Wikimedia’s blog also stated that

...the Court noted that Wikipedia is open for all to edit and that one could identify and address potential inaccuracies through community review processes.

...the Court concluded that the role of the user community (rather than the Wikimedia Foundation) in the creation of content balanced by the ability of Mr. Previti to address his concerns with the community directly relieved the Wikimedia Foundation of the duty to provide any guarantee of accuracy.

In the US Wikimedia would have relied on the Communication Decency Act to protect its content, but no such law exists in Italy. So this was an important ruling for ISPs.

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