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Mayor of Florence Sues Wikipedia 196

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the vote-quimby dept.
ZioBit writes "Florence Mayor Leonardo Domenici and one of the city assessors are suing (Google translation) Wikipedia on the basis of a (possible) defamation regarding the handling of public parkings assignation to a private company, "Florence Parking". The apparent problem is that both of their wives are members of the board of directors of "Florence Parking", and Wikipedia is reporting it."
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Mayor of Florence Sues Wikipedia

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  • Re:Defense (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2008 @10:26AM (#22609876)
    Even if it is not the truth, if Wikipedia believed it was the truth, they where in no means hurting them (on purpose). In other words, if it was a simple mistake (if this is true) or if they did it with the goal of hurting their reputation. A good friend of mine a few years back was sued by someone for this, the judge believed that what was being said about the person to the best of my friends knowledge was true, and therefore couldn't be held accountable, blah blah blah
  • Just like Wikileaks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Saturday March 01, 2008 @10:45AM (#22609958)
    It's the new hip thing. When you've done something wrong or at least sketchy, and someone's reporting on it, sue them to shut them down. In the old days, it was a lot harder for stuff like this to come out on a national or global scale, but nowadays, with the Internet, anyone with a camera or basic research skills can bust you. It's gotta be driving people white-collar crooks and sleazeballs crazy.

    Disclaimer: I don't know the facts of this particular case. I'm just talking about a general trend.
  • Parking Corruption (Score:5, Interesting)

    by armada (553343) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @10:49AM (#22609970)
    Too good. I wonder when they will learn this sort of tactic only fules the public's knowledge of what they are doing. Similar thing happened in the City of Miami Beach (still is as far as I know). The city made a sweet deal with a towing company for the whole island (miami beach is an island) as far as Police Towing was concerned. After this deal, the police started calling businesses on the beach to "help them see" that other methods like the boot were not a good idea. In one case, the chief of police actually visited a strip mall to help them "come around" and use the same company the city was using. They city then quietly stopped allowing the renewal of licenses to other towing companies.
  • by armada (553343) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @10:57AM (#22610018)
    Here is some irony:

    Leonardo Domenici (born July 12, 1955) is an Italian politician. He has been the Mayor of Florence since June 13, 1999. Domenici was born in Florence, from where he graduated in moral philosophy Article [wikipedia.org]
  • by Toe, The (545098) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @10:58AM (#22610028)
    I can't understand how anyone can sue anyone for statements made in an openly editable living document.

    Wouldn't it be a bit simpler to click the edit button and change the perceived falsehoods in an encyclopedic manner?

    I imagine one could even hire a geek to do it for quite a bit less than the price of hiring a lawyer, filing a lawsuit, then pursuing that suit.
  • Re:Defense (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2008 @11:05AM (#22610050)
    Are wikipedia's server's in italy? Do they have an office there? Do they do business there? If not, then I do not see how Italy has jurisdiction.
  • by The Snowman (116231) * on Saturday March 01, 2008 @11:14AM (#22610088) Homepage

    Wikipedia is headquartered in the US. Do they have an Italian office? I see that a ping to "it.wikipedia.org" returns the same IP address (208.80.152.2) as "en.wikipedia.org". So I'm not sure that wikipedia actually has any sort of physical presence in Italy.

    Of course, IANAL, but I'm pretty sure it can be difficult to sue someone in a different country, particularly if you aren't going to their country to file the suit. If they file suit against them in Italian court, I'd expect it would be difficult to enforce a judgement from across the pond.

    This was my thought too. While Italian law is certainly different and this may be a valid argument in Italian court, the hurdle here is twofold. First, prove that Wikipedia is itself at fault for the contents. Given the open source documentation license they use, I am not sure they could prove that. Second, they would need to get someone who is legally able to represent Wikipedia into Italian court.

    For this to work, I believe they would need to convince a U.S. Federal court to extradite people to Italy, and given the merits of this case, I doubt that would happen.

  • Re:Defense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2008 @11:33AM (#22610182)
    Those statutes are as likely to be used in a real case as Ohio's "It is illegal for more than five women to live in a house." law, or North Carolina's "Elephants may not be used to plow cotton fields.", or Tennessee's "Stealing a horse is punishible by hanging." laws

    Just because a stupid case established precedent, doesn't mean constitutional law, or statutory law doesn't trump it. Therefore, the only way to test these laws is to be brought to suit using them.
  • Re:Florence. where ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by k33l0r (808028) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @12:02PM (#22610338) Homepage Journal

    (There are Florence's in Florida, Georgia, California and for all I know every state in the Union.)

    I'm happy that slashdot continues to have some sort of respect for the intellect of the reader. I'm pretty sure that everybody here made the mental connection to Italy, and if they didn't, they should be reading Geography 101 instead of slashdot. Espicially with the "Google Translate" link. And the original document in Italian.

    Crafications such as 'London, England' are only necessary when it is likely that the reader could be confused. Hence there is no need to write 'Beijing, China', for example

    The "dumbing down" of American media isn't really apparent until you compare similar publications from the US to their closest British counterparts. Compare Newsweek [newsweek.com] or Time Magazine [time.com] to The Economist [economist.com] or The New York Times [nytimes.com] to The Guardian [guardian.co.uk]. And this isn't just my opinion, it has been validated in studies of the matter.

  • Re:Jurisdiction? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WWWWolf (2428) <wwwwolf@iki.fi> on Saturday March 01, 2008 @12:22PM (#22610432) Homepage

    Does Wikipedia even have servers or an office in Italy? If not, then their lawsuit is pretty damn pointless.

    Basically, the tendency is that you're not supposed to sue Wikipedia; it's better to try solve the issue first through ordinary channels [wikipedia.org]. It's a procedure that's being used in a lot of subprojects too, due to practical reasons. I'm pretty sure they failed to follow this in this case...

    However, it should be noted that some Wikimedia projects (Finnish Wikipedia, for example) do apply local laws in a very limited fashion. For example, as far as I know, Finnish Wikipedia it only applies to copyrights (the US Fair Use law isn't considered, but the basically equivalent law, the "right of quotation" in the Finnish copyright law, is used instead). I can almost imagine there would be similar rules in place in case of libel, but it's basically an user conduct issue and mostly handled through the above principle anyway. Besides all legal issues should be brought against Wikimedia Foundation anyway.

  • Re:Sue whom exactly. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jefu (53450) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @12:46PM (#22610552) Homepage Journal

    How about something like "Remove this vile calumny or we'll ..." :
    1. Remove Wikipedia's DNS entry in Italy. (See recent Wikileaks problems.)
    2. Publish (in Italy at least) routing information that redirects Wikipedia requests to a black hole. (See recent You Tube problems.)

    I think the Mayor's goal may not include preventing random residents of (say) Nevada from reading about his (alleged) corruption (after all, what does he care about what someone in Vegas thinks?), but probably does include preventing people in Italy from doing the same.

  • Re:Jurisdiction? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jefu (53450) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @02:51PM (#22611164) Homepage Journal

    Is it Wikipedia's place to be a forum for news reporting and political social change?

    Wikipedia's place? While Wikipedia as a bunch of servers may belong to the Wikimedia foundation, Wikipedia as content belongs to its readers and to its editors. The content provided by these people is what they agree (with whatever mechanisms) it is. No more, no less. The question is rather like those proposed by ./ readers who wonder if "Slashdot" is not being inconsistent when there are multiple, often contradictory, opinions offered - by slashdot users - on various topics (patents, copyright... ).

  • Re:Florence. where ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wizard Drongo (712526) <wizard_drongoNO@SPAMyahoo.co.uk> on Saturday March 01, 2008 @02:59PM (#22611210)
    Just wanted to make a point about one of my pet hates; that is, americans always putting a country's name after the place name. E.G. Paris, France, or Rome, Italy, as if there was another more famous populous Rome or Paris somewhere. I suspect the tradition started as a result of american isolationist tendency's meaning a majority of americans didn't actually know where Paris was (as opposed to Paris in Louisiana) , but regardless, it sure is annoying and condescending as hell. Especially since I, along with the rest-of-the-world do things slightly more sensibly. Where two or more places are named the same, we generally call the largest and/or most populous/famous one by just its name, then any other instance of it by its name followed by geographic designation. For example, Cambridge is in southern England. There's also another Cambridge in the USA. But, even though Cambridge MA is about the same size as Cambridge, England, and, likewise has one of the worlds great learning seats (Harvard and MIT), Cambridge on its own refers to the one in England, whereas Cambridge Mass. is how one refers to the home of Harvard.
  • by julesh (229690) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:50PM (#22612150)
    Barbara Bauer [nielsenhayden.com], described by SFWA as one of the twenty worst literary agents they know of [sfwa.org], and who has a history of threatening people who are critical of her [nielsenhayden.com] and getting ISPs to shut down web sites that are critical of her [nielsenhayden.com] and claiming her name is her intellectual property and cannot be published without her permission [writersweekly.com], sued Wikimedia (among others) for repeating some of the above claims about a year ago. But I've heard nothing about the case since. Can anyone comment?
  • Re:Defense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by epee1221 (873140) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @06:39PM (#22612408)

    You cannot just run afoul of countries' laws and expect borders to protect you.
    I do this all the time. Think how many countries' laws I'd be violating just by exercising my 1st Amendment rights. It doesn't matter because I'm outside their jurisdiction.
  • by Headcase88 (828620) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @02:56AM (#22614306) Journal
    It's a matter of spite. If someone is trying to bury information that should be public, webmasters will want to make sure it's the most well-known piece of information on the internet, mainly to show what you get for trying to hide it. I rather like the effect myself.
  • Re:Defense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mbertini (45365) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @04:11AM (#22614490)
    Fact: the wives of the mayor and of the other politician are not in the board: Wikipedia reported false facts.

    The lie was used as a mean to attack the mayor, kind of guerrilla marketing (you should be familiar with all the false claims on Obama: it's about the same).

    A guy in Florence, who tried to spread the false claim has already been sentenced for defamation.

    The Slashdot post reports the Fact 1 as true. The guy who reported the story did not get it: incompetence or bad will ?

  • by PPH (736903) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @01:59PM (#22616638)

    Why does the streisand effect work?


    I don't think its spiteful behavior so much as the perceived value of a limited or (artificially) restricted commodity.


    Anyone who wants can look at my back yard on Google Earth. Nothing there but weeds and a few cars up on cement blocks. But if I expend an inordinate amount of energy hiding it, then there must be something really interesting to see. At least that's the way most people's minds seem to work.

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

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