Court case over Wikipedia entry

Defamation laws need to change. Or the courts will be swamped. Media distribution is now in the hands of everyone, and not everyone will behave themselves:

Fuzzy Wikipedia Entry Leads to Zoeller Lawsuit
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales declined to comment on the suit, but he said Wikipedia is no different from any Internet message board — meaning objectionable comments have to be posted before they can be removed. “We try to police it pretty closely, but people do misbehave on the Internet,” said Wales, of St. Petersburg, Fla.
Pro golfer Fuzzy Zoeller is teed off over what he calls defamatory statements about him on Wikipedia Latest News about Wikipedia.

Instead of suing the popular online reference site, Zoeller is taking a swing at a Miami company. In a lawsuit filed last week in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Zoeller — suing under the name John Doe — alleged the statements were posted from a computer belonging to Josef Silny & Associates.

Josef Silny, the company’s president, expressed surprise when told this week by a Miami Herald reporter that the 1979 Masters champion was suing his company.

“I think it’s the most bizarre thing that’s ever happened in my life,” said Silny, who added he doesn’t follow golf and knows Zoeller’s name only from the sports pages. Silny’s firm evaluates foreign nationals’ educational credentials for clients such as the state of Florida.
Liability Issue

The case goes into the thorny territory of who is responsible — and can be held liable — for information posted on communal media sites such as Wikipedia.

Zoeller’s attorney, Scott D. Sheftall of Miami, said he had to sue the company because he can’t sue Wikipedia. Federal law says “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as publisher or speaker of any information provided by another.”

Read it all here. Be aware, that last paragraph re: not being a publisher, is valid in the States. In other words, don’t shoot the Post Office for the message being delivered. The U.K. is still working it through some test cases – one about the Chancellor of the Exchequer being defamed I think. I doubt that Australia has even started thinking about this – am I right? Are companies correct in asserting tough policies for how to use the internet at work? Is there anyway to gain back “control”?

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

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