Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship The Internet

Wikipedia Threatens Artists For Fair Use 235

Posted by kdawson
from the ought-to-know-better dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Can a noncommercial website use the trademark of the entity it critiques in its domain name? Surprisingly, it appears that the usually open-minded folks at Wikipedia think not. The EFF reports that Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern have created a noncommercial website at Wikipediaart.org intended to comment on the nature of art and Wikipedia. Since 'Wikipedia' is a trademark owned by the Wikimedia Foundation, the Foundation has demanded that the artists give up the domain name peaceably or it will attempt to take it by legal force. 'Wikipedia should know better. There is no trademark or cybersquatting issue here,' writes the EFF's Corynne McSherry. 'Moreover, even if US trademark laws somehow reached this noncommercial activity, the artists' use of the mark is an obvious fair use.' It is hard to see what Wikipedia gains by litigating this matter, but easy to see how they lose."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Wikipedia Threatens Artists For Fair Use

Comments Filter:
  • Lock (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ragein (901507) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:51AM (#27700411)
    Load and aim at foot
    • Re:Lock (Score:5, Insightful)

      by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:50AM (#27701081) Homepage
      I don't think that's fair. A trademark, as we should all know, must be defended where it's use could be considered infringing. Use of the trademark to identify the service in question is perfectly acceptable, as in wikipediasucks.com. However, the cited domain, wikipediaart.org could quite easily be taken to be affiliated to Wikipedia, particularly since the site is running a Mediawiki install. I can't say I blame them for going after this, though I hope they don't overkill it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noundi (1044080)
      Not really. This is simply an action taken by the foundation to control any content related to their name, and trademark. We've seen this before, Mozilla vs. Debian was the latest "fight". It's important to understand the differences between brand and content. Whatever content I have associated to my brand is also my responsibility. If the content inside my brand is open for everybody to use, distribute, modify etc. it doesn't mean that one can distribute it in the name of my brand.

      Let's say I write a shor
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by spun (1352)

        No, it is not simply an action taken by the foundation. It's a classic case of wikidickery. Some unknown artists create a page, call it wikipediart, throw some bullshit self referential art criticism nonsense up on it, and sit back waiting for the shit to hit the fan. They KNOW that wikipedia is chock full of nuts who will come gunning for them and their fake page. THAT is that performance art they were aiming for. So the page gets deleted, as they knew it would, and they set up a site infringing on wikiped

    • by saibot834 (1061528) on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:28AM (#27701551) Homepage

      Read the answer by Mike Godwin [wikimedia.org] (Gerneral Counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation) to reproaches by the EFF [eff.org].

      • Read the answer by Mike Godwin (Gerneral Counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation)

        It's quite lengthy and technical, so allow me to summarize:

        Using our trademarked term 'Art' in a non-Wikipedia web page such as yours [citation needed] inevitably tends to dilute and water down our historic trademark protections and liberties. Those who would sacrifice article quality for a little temporary respite from deletion are doomed to repeat it, poorly. Wikipedia is like a car, and taking the wheels off it to replace them with DRM'd ones that only work on a particular kind of road is like boiling a frog. Just consider what would happen if Hitler himself designed cars...

      • by digitig (1056110) on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:19AM (#27702233)
        So in summary: the EFF accusations are complete BS. And although IANAL, having read the letters posted on the wikipediaart website, it looks to me as if he's right. The Wikipedia foundation has not "demanded that the artists give up the domain name peaceably" and has not threatened to "attempt to take it by legal force". So that's no story, then.
        • by sterno (16320) on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:33AM (#27702451) Homepage

          Trademark law forces trademark holders to litigate at the slightest hint of dilution. If they don't do it, then they won't have standing to file suit later when it's more serious. Don't blame Wikipedia, it's how the law is written.

          • by digitig (1056110) on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:40AM (#27702541)
            Did you read Godwin's statement? Did you read the letters on the wikipediaart website? Did you even read the message to which you were replying? They're not litigating, they're not even threatening to litigate. One of the letters they've written to wikipediaart specifically complains about wikipediaart misrepresenting them as threatening to litigate.
            • "especially since the artists were trying to edit content directly on Wikipedia. So, after listening to our editors' feedback, we sent a letter to Wikipedia Art that was aimed, not to threaten legal action, but to outline what our legal concerns were, and to try to begin a negotiation to resolve the matter amicably -- ideally by switching the domain name over to us, but not by requiring any content changes on their site at all."

              So they told it their use was illegal and they should hand it over ... yes, that

      • There's irony. Mike Godwin used to be the staff counsel for the EFF. Now he's battling his old organization!

        Time to start talking about Nazis and stop this madness.

      • Godwin (Score:3, Funny)

        by AliasMarlowe (1042386)

        Read the answer by Mike Godwin

        Damn. You just Hitlered the debate!

  • Am I the only one to think that Wikipediaart looks Dutch? Probably the double A.
  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:55AM (#27700445) Homepage
    Of course this is confusing and abusing the trademark.

    Does anyone think he would get away with creating "CryslerArt.com" ?

    WikipediaArt.org is not different.

  • by Bashae (1250564) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:57AM (#27700463)

    Am I the only one who laughed after reading this?

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:08AM (#27700621) Journal

      Am I the only one who laughed after reading this?

      Disclaimer: I have an account on Wikipedia by the same name as my Slashdot username and have contributed fair use music clips.

      You may be able to point to Wikipedia not being open-minded. From the purging of webcomics [slashdot.org] to being attacked by the co-founder [slashdot.org], you may be able to point to things they've done that seem really really controlling and closed minded.

      But look at what they've done and accomplished. Look at how they've come under attack themselves for fair use or having 1/5 of the world's population blocked from you [slashdot.org].

      They have established a totally free online encyclopedia. No ads. They have had to balance quality with quantity. They have established rules that define what is encyclopedic. I would wager that in the past year they are more linked to than any other domain on Slashdot. Their Google rankings reflect this.

      If you are criticizing them because they are not as free and open as Richard Stallman, fine. But know that I have downloaded their articles and put them into a MySQL database at home and you are free to access them online and use them as an invaluable resource. Would they have been as successful if they had taken a more open and free stance? They walk a fine line between their control and community control and I think they've done a fine job with their success as evidence.

      • by Bashae (1250564)

        Personally, I think Stallman exaggerates; that is not the issue.

        Regardless of what wikipedia has accomplished, both the people in the foundation and many of its high-ranked users are anything but open-minded. And, though I do not have a wikipedia account, I say this as a frequent visitor (at least once a day) who *loves* wikipedia. I'm just sorry about many things I regularly see when browsing through it and some things I hear about it.

      • by mangu (126918) on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:34AM (#27700921)

        They have established a totally free online encyclopedia. No ads. They have had to balance quality with quantity. They have established rules that define what is encyclopedic.

        I look at Wikipedia's failings more in wonder than in anger. They gave us one of the most valuable sites in the web for free, that's true, and we should be grateful for that. But then they go and shoot themselves in the foot.

        What I have tried to do about this is to bring my contribution in a positive way. Whenever I see something that strikes me as being too pedantic at Wikipedia I try to correct it, often with good results. I have removed several of those ridiculous warning boxes from their articles, and, more often than not, no one put the boxes back.

        Take, for instance, an article about a fiction novel or short story. The best reference about that, the book where it was first published, is cited in the references. How does that article lack references? Or boxes complaining that in some way the article is not written in a style suited for an encyclopedia. Well, if you think so, do us a favor, stop complaining and *show* how it should be written.

        • {{refimprove}} (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tepples (727027)

          Take, for instance, an article about a fiction novel or short story. The best reference about that, the book where it was first published, is cited in the references. How does that article lack references?

          Wikipedia wants multiple sources, and it wants independent sources [wikipedia.org]. That's what {{refimprove}} [wikipedia.org] is for: improving references to increase an article's verifiability [wikipedia.org]. A general encyclopedia wants to take an out-of-universe perspective when writing about fiction [wikipedia.org]; this often means concentrating more on critical and commercial reaction than on plot points.

          Or boxes complaining that in some way the article is not written in a style suited for an encyclopedia. Well, if you think so, do us a favor, stop complaining and *show* how it should be written.

          Sometimes I'll rewrite a paragraph or two, but then I realize I don't have time to rewrite the rest, so I slap on {{ad}} [wikipedia.org] or {{essay-like}} [wikipedia.org] or something s

      • Disclaimer: I am a 1950s socialist and have debated and contributed towards Maxist theory.

        You may be able to point to the Soviet Union not being open-minded. From the purging of Citizens [wikipedia.org] to being denounced by the co-founder [wikipedia.org], you may be able to point to things they've done that seem really really controlling and closed minded.

        But look at what they've done and accomplished. Look at how they've come under attack themselves [wikipedia.org] for their ideals or having over 1/2 of the world's population blocked from you [wikipedia.org].

        They have established a totally classless society. No inequality. They have had to balance quality with quantity. They have established rules that define what socialist. I would wager that in the past year they are more talked about than any other country in this publication. Their power of veto [wikipedia.org] in the UN reflect this.

        If you are criticizing them because they are not as free and open as the West, fine. But know that I have access to a free public health care, education, transport and many other systems, to use them as an invaluable resource. Would the USSR have been as successful if they had taken a more open and free stance? They walk a fine line between their control and community control and I think they've done a fine job with their success as evidence.

    • by Hurricane78 (562437) <(deleted) (at) (slashdot.org)> on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:14AM (#27701375)

      Nope. Wikipedia became -- as I perfectly predicted -- a horrible joke of itself.

      "Everyone can edit" is dead and gone forever. A ruling class has established. And they are controlling Wikipedia reality and laws now. Getting in gets harder and harder, as more and more entry rules and hierarchy levels get implemented.

      I wonder if anyone ever really believed that it would "just work" with giving access to everyone. I mean, sure, we all had a strong wishful thinking syndrome. I quite possibly was one of Wikipedia's strongest defenders. But I soon realize how stupid and ridiculous it really is.
      I mean what other community allows anyone to anonymously write whatever he thinks he's right? 4chan. We should have looked at how that turned out.^^

      Interestingly (or not so interestingly), it went the same way that every other organizational system goes. The bigger it gets, the more the opinions differ.
      But nobody is wrong, because on many many subjects, it is either impossible to determine the physical truth, or the whole thing is just relative to the person, which is a basic law of physics, that is somehow completely ignored at Wikipedia.

      My best shot at fixing this, would implement the possibility for an infinite cascading views [like CSS cascading rules are creating the final layout] for one article, and reality-relationship models, where you could choose who to trust on what subjects (also in a cascading manner [again, like CSS rules]).
      So I could perhaps choose "Jon Steward" as my basis, extend with some scientists that i know, and add an overlay of what a friend thinks about the politics in his country, to form my view of Wikipedia.

      Now this may sound like the reality distortion of Fox. But in reality, you will not change what someone thinks, when he does not trust you. And my method is a software model of this.
      And there really are things, where two completely opposite views are rightfully true for both people. Nobody has the right to censor or dominate those views.
      And, hell, why not. My philosophy is, that everybody can think whatever he likes to think. As long as he does not hurt me (directly or indirectly [eg. by hurting friends]). No matter how crazy he is. Wouldn't I be the oppressor for not allowing him to think that way? If he's all by himself... so what? Let him be, if he's happy that way. :)

  • Wikipedia seemed to be the ultimate spot on the Internet for free thought and the sharing of ideas. Are they really so worried about public image that they cannot stand to a little criticism on their model?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cnvandev (1538055)

      Wikipedia seemed to be the ultimate spot on the Internet for free thought and the sharing of ideas.

      I'd say the sharing of ideas doesn't seem like it has much to do with Wikipedia, it's just trying to explain what everything is for the uninformed. Sharing ideas is for places like YouTube, where people *do* share them...every idea that comes into their head, no matter how inane.

      Honestly, after reading TFA, it seems like this is a Flying Spaghetti Monster or Church of the SubGenius kind of case. The whole thing exists to throw a problem into sharp relief...it's not an "Art Project" so much as a method of ar

    • by LordKazan (558383)

      After having tried to be a contributor for a while I can tell you they are not. there are some powerful groups with admins and even ARBCOM members in their pockets that rule game to keep subtle but damaging biases in various articles - via the exclusion of information.

      "that source isn't credible." - them
      "it's a peer reviewed scientific journal!" - us
      "my statement stands"

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:58AM (#27700493) Journal

    iI is hard to see what Wikipedia gains by litigating this matter but easy to see how they lose.

    It is easy to see how they lose if they don't defend it also.

    Ok, not to defend them but just to get you thinking about their perspective, they are attempting to protect their name. Not profits or anything really evil, just their name.

    What would you say if I wrote a mischievous program and hosted it at iwikipedia.org? Wouldn't you want them to be able to go after me and shut me down?

    Ok, so that's an extreme case ... now imagine I use that same domain to host a mirror of Wikipedia.org and push to steal their market share. I advertise and insert tiny little advertisements and I am commercial. And suddenly the good folks at Wikipedia are out of luck. Wouldn't you want them to be able to protect that which they've established?

    So for malicious intent or even just to protect what they've created, I think they should be able to sue wikipediaart.org but I would hope they could just ask them to change the name to wikiartrights.org or artonwikis.org?

    They probably would qualify for fair use if the site wasn't a wikimedia site. In this case, Wikipedia is concerned about people misunderstanding that the site is hosted and part of the wikipedia suite (or commons or whatever they call it). I think they would have no problem with the name if it had a different layout/format or if the name was different and it looked just like that. I don't know how this qualifies as fair use and Wikipedia may have a point in their fear that people would misunderstand the site.

    • by xouumalperxe (815707) on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:13AM (#27700671)

      Ok, not to defend them but just to get you thinking about their perspective, they are attempting to protect their name. Not profits or anything really evil, just their name.

      What would you say if I wrote a mischievous program and hosted it at iwikipedia.org? Wouldn't you want them to be able to go after me and shut me down?

      Actually, your second paragraph isn't even necessary. If I understand Trademark law correctly, either they actively defend their trademark, or they lose it altogether.

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:59AM (#27700499)

    Man oh man, does it get any better than this? I'm gonna go pop some corn...

  • With the full understanding that this is for a court to decide, the domain name in this case is too similar. Regardless of any one-line disclaimer about not being affiliated with Wikipedia, it still seems too much like it would be an art website operated by Wikipedia. If you accept that PETA.org should belong to the PETA that puts naked chicks in cages on the street and not the PETA that goes through a lot of barbecue sauce (which a lot of people don't) then you have to accept that this domain name is confusing. A domain like "wikipediasucks.com" would make it clear that it was commentary about wikipedia. A domain like "Wikipediaart" makes it look too much like art affiliated with Wikipedia. Your whole front page would have to be a disclaimer given the average human -- I could see easily misinterpreting the top sentence in the pre-coffee boost phase and deciding that they WERE affiliated.

  • Okay. it looks like Wikipedia. The name is similar to Wikipedia. It's not obvious that it's criticism. Even the content appears to be more transformative than critical.

    No problem with what they're doing but make it more obvious that this isn't part of Wikipedia.
  • Yet the Wikipedia didn't bat an eyelash when Jimbo started Wikia using 'wiki' in the name. Double standard.
    • Re:Wikia (Score:5, Informative)

      by julesh (229690) on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:10AM (#27700645)

      Yet the Wikipedia didn't bat an eyelash when Jimbo started Wikia using 'wiki' in the name. Double standard.

      In case you didn't know, "wiki" is a word that wikipedia borrowed from elsewhere, i.e. "WikiWikiWeb", aka "WardsWiki", which is available at http://c2.com/cgi-bin/wiki.pl [c2.com] . So no, this isn't a double standard.

      Besides, there are no rules against the same organisation using the same trademark in two different ways, so even if the word "wiki" was a Wikimedia invention, it wouldn't be a problem that they operated two different sites that had it in their names.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      Yet the Wikipedia didn't bat an eyelash when Jimbo started Wikia using 'wiki' in the name. Double standard.

      Wikipedia didn't invent the term "wiki".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 4D6963 (933028)
      Anything can have "wiki" in its name, here that's different, Wikipedia only refers to one possible very specific thing. It's like the difference between "Encyclopaedia" and "Encyclopaedia Britannica"
  • fair use? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249)
    The term 'fair use' refers to a doctrine of defense against copyright infringement, not trademark infringement. And while the courts have routinely said that names like "walmartsucks" and "dontbuyverizon" are clearly not going to create confusion in the marketplace, a name like "wikipediaart" just does not seem clear-- is it associated or not? The design of the front page may or may not help the defense on that question.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nedlohs (1335013)

      Fair use is a term of art in trademark law as well.

      Since this is about wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use_(U.S._trademark_law) [wikipedia.org]

      Or if you don't like wikipedia...

      http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/15/1115.html [cornell.edu]

      b(4) is the section that is referred to as "fair use" by the Supreme Court in rulings.

    • by Rary (566291)

      The term "fair use" is used in trademark law as well. But I do somewhat agree with your second point. The name they've chosen does seem to suggest an extension of Wikipedia more than a critique of Wikipedia. The main page of the site plainly explains that they are not connected to Wikipedia, but that doesn't change the implication of the name, which is the only thing the Wikipedia folks are going after.

  • by itsdapead (734413) on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:07AM (#27700595)

    Quoth Wikipedia itself [wikipedia.org]:

    A trademark typically becomes "genericized" when the products or services with which it is associated have acquired substantial market dominance or mind share. The term is legally significant in that unless a company works sufficiently to prevent such broad use of its trademark, its intellectual property rights in the trademark may be lost.

    IANAL but, as I understand it, if Wikipedia are too free and easy about defending their trademark they won't have a leg to stand on when "Wikipedia Britannica" or "Microsoft Wikipedia" appear.

    • by julesh (229690)

      IANAL but, as I understand it, if Wikipedia are too free and easy about defending their trademark they won't have a leg to stand on when "Wikipedia Britannica" or "Microsoft Wikipedia" appear.

      As I understand it, whether a trademark can be protected is decided on a per-market-segment basis.

      Therefore, if Wikimedia don't defend their trademark in this case, then in future they run the risk that they won't be able to defend it against other art projects. I don't see how this is a particularly bad outcome for t

      • by itsdapead (734413)

        As I understand it, whether a trademark can be protected is decided on a per-market-segment basis.

        That's fine if there are two well defined market segments (say, minced cow products vs. tartan kilts) but it didn't exactly keep the lawyers hungry in Apple Corp vs. Apple Computer :-)

        Therefore, if Wikimedia don't defend their trademark in this case, then in future they run the risk that they won't be able to defend it against other art projects.

        Wikipedia has stuff about art [wikipedia.org].

        Even if this ends up in a ruling that "Wikipedia Art" was OK because it was the name of a specific work of art rather than an online information resource, Wikipedia will have defended their trademark and drawn their line in the sand.

    • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

      What I don't get is why they should care in the slightest if their trademark becomes genericized. They don't stand to loose a profit like Xerox would, they are a nonprofit. Keeping their website recognizable is worthless if they are recognized primarily for being dicks.

  • History of Wikipedia Art completely erased from Wikipedia. Despite more than 2 dozen edits to the page, there is absolutely no record of its text, anywhere on the site.

    Now is it just me or does it sound like there's more to this story than simply protection of a trademark? Why would the Wikipedia people permenantly erase a wiki page that seems legit? There's more evidence of deletions too...

    • Wikipedia 451

      Someone should start a wiki to track deletions from wikipedia..

      • by saforrest (184929)

        Someone should start a wiki to track deletions from wikipedia..

        See Deletionpedia [dbatley.com].

        It confirms my expectations: that most deleted articles are not the Secret Truth Suppressed by the Man, but just selfish crap.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Idarubicin (579475)

      Why would the Wikipedia people permenantly erase a wiki page that seems legit?

      Probably because someone was trying to use Wikipedia as a free webhost for their art project...? Pages that don't have anything to do with Wikipedia's mission - which is creating an encyclopedia, full stop - regularly get deleted.

      The page in question wasn't an encyclopedia article, it was a "conceptual art work composed on Wikipedia". Some artist(s) had a clever idea that used Wikipedia's resources, Wikipedia decided that th

  • by Eevee (535658) on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:08AM (#27700607)
    It's better to have a judge rule "it's fair use" now than have a judge rule "you didn't defend your trademark" five years from now.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MobyDisk (75490)

      I've heard this on Slashdot, but I read otherwise (ironically, on Wikipedia)

      Wikipedia: Trademark rights [wikipedia.org]

      It is not necessary for a trademark owner to take enforcement action against all infringement if it can be shown that the owner perceived the infringement to be minor and inconsequential.

      Seems like a letter stating the above would be sufficient.

    • by jdavidb (449077)

      But it's not moral to force the innocent fair-use user to bear the costs involved in protecting you five years down the road.

      I hope wikipediaart receives court costs and lawyer's fees.

  • by JustOK (667959)

    www.definitelynotassociatedwithwikipediadotorginanywayatallhonest.org be ok?

  • Although I don't necessarily agree with Wikimedia's heavy-handedness here, the "wikipediaart" project seems like some weird attempt do use Wikipedia to do something which is not what Wikipedia is for. It is not a commentary on Wikipedia itself. Wikipedia doesn't exist so it can be used as a person's playground or for their pet projects. The "project" itself existed only as a Wikipedia page in essence, and was some sort of attempt at self-referential art from what I can gather - thus being inadmissible for i

    • Wikipedia DOES exist so it can be used as a person's playground and for their pet projects. It's just that none of the people behind wikipediaart are that person.

  • Wikipedia Review? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Norsefire (1494323) * on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:14AM (#27700679) Journal
    Why has the WMF gone after WikipediaArt but not Wikipedia Review [wikipediareview.com] or Wikipedia Watch [wikipedia-watch.org]? These two websites have been notorious for "outing" the real identities of editors and encouraging vote-stacking etc.
    • Re:Wikipedia Review? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rjstanford (69735) on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:14AM (#27701369) Homepage Journal

      Because its obvious that those two websites pertain to Wikipedia, but are not Wikipedia, and as such they're completely legit.

      Be honest now. If you see "Wikipedia Art," don't you think that's an Art site owned/run by the folks behind Wikipedia? Is this any different than "BBC Art" or "Encyclopedia Britannica Art"? Yet you'd never make that assumption over "Wikipedia Sucks" or other similar sites... which is why they're different cases.

    • Re:Wikipedia Review? (Score:4, Informative)

      by ultraexactzz (546422) on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:20AM (#27702249) Journal
      According to Mike Godwin's letter, linked somewhere above, the foundation doesn't concern itself with Wikipedia review because there is no chance whatsoever that anyone reading Wikipedia Review would mistake it as a site affiliated with or operated by the foundation. And he's right.
  • by trifish (826353) on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:16AM (#27700705)

    Mozilla thinks the same way as Wikimedia and obviously disagrees with EFF.

    From the official Mozilla/Firefox Trademark Policy [mozilla.org]

    Domain Names

    If you want to include all or part of a Mozilla trademark in a domain name, you have to receive written permission from Mozilla. People naturally associate domain names with organizations whose names sound similar. Almost any use of a Mozilla trademark in a domain name is likely to confuse consumers, thus running afoul of the overarching requirement that any use of a Mozilla trademark be non-confusing. If you would like to build a Mozilla, Firefox Internet browser or Thunderbird e-mail client promotional site for your region, we encourage you to join an existing official localization project.

  • "Wikipedia should know better. There is no trademark or cybersquatting issue here. First, the site is entirely noncommercial, which puts it beyond the reach of U.S. trademark law"

    What ever the legalities at issue her, it is patently obvious that the owners of wikipediaart.org are trying to piggyback on the reputation of Wikipedia. They did seem to have previously host their art site directly on Wikipedia itself. Perhaps the cybersquatting issue is a little retaliation.
  • Debian has encountered trademark concerns, before: Iceweasel [wikipedia.org]. It's a tale worth reading, if you're interested.

  • The EFF has it wrong on two counts:

    1. First, there is no such thing as 'fair use' when it comes to trademarks.
    2. Commercial use is irrelevant to 'fair use' anyhow.
  • The domain name is only one thing, perhaps the least deceitful aspect. I did actually visit http://wikipediaart.org/ [wikipediaart.org] and then http://wikipediaart.org/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page [wikipediaart.org] and was very surprised to find it describes and refers to itself as "Wikipedia Art". There is a disclaimer "This web site documents a performance art work that promotes a critical view of Wikipedia. It is not affiliated with Wikipedia in any way." I'm English and reasonably literate and I remain uncertain what that is supposed

    • by hesiod (111176)

      pompous blowhards having a tantrum

      In other words, "artists".

      • by julian67 (1022593)
        Except they didn't produce art, but only the same kind of noise which can be reliably reproduced by saying mean things about ponies.
  • If people can reasonably expect "wikipediaart.org" to be a site run by the same people as Wikipedia and concerned with art, then it's a trademark violation (it seems to me that it is).

    Furthermore, Wikipedia has no choice in the matter: if it could conceivably be a trademark violation, they must get active against it.

  • The submitter presents the question as:
    "Can a noncommercial website use the trademark of the entity it critiques in its domain name? "

    Now let's think of a REALLY EASY past example: verizonsucks.com, etc. Here we had the trademark owner asserting "brand confusion" which was laughable, except for the hoards of lawyers willing to outspend the defendant.

    Now let's consider if that scenario applies here... this is a tough one, give me a minute.... NOPE. Not even close. The submitter editorializes and presents a f

  • ZOMG FAIR USE! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:57AM (#27701171) Homepage Journal

    Wikipediasucks.com is nothing one would confuse with Wikipedia.

    Wikipediaart.com, however, sounds like an official Wikipedia for art.

    Domains can also be trademarks. Them's the breaks. Get over it.

  • Trademark needs to be protected by preventing unauthorized use of it.

    But there are two ways of
    - disallow/litigate
    - authorize/license

    Wikipedia choose the nasty way.
    Linden Labs used the nice way.

    http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/31/0216258&from=rss [slashdot.org]

  • Personally, I think the domain is way too confusing..
    You have Microsoft, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel..
    Now you have Wikipedia, Wikipedia Art...

    What's the difference?

    • IANAL, but from what I've read about trademark law, if you don't protect your trademark, you lose it (or at least, your ability to protect it gets significantly restricted). As the parent says, the domain name wikipediaart.org is confusing and implies to users that the site is in some way affiliated with or part of wikipedia. Even were that not the case, it's using the trademark right there in the domain name. I'm all for allowing people to have 'fair use' of a trademark when discussing a product, company,

  • Trademarks aren't data or information. They're a name, and names are very important in human society. Moreover, names and trademarks do not infringe anyone's rights in the way that proprietary software does. I see no problem with a trademark holder telling you that you cannot use their name in an infringing way. It's not right for someone to go around using the name "Red Hat" or a derivative. If Wikimedia doesn't want their trademark infringed, they should have that right. Nothing stops you from using

    • by JSBiff (87824)

      What do you mean there's no fair use in trademarks? I agree that when it comes to naming your website, company, etc, there's no fair use. But there is fair use with respect to actual discussions about the trademarked company, organization, website, product, service, etc. Heck, /. article summaries all the time, by necessity, have to use trademarks like Microsoft, Apple, Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc in order to refer to the company or product which is being discussed in the article.

      So, YES there is fair use

  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:23AM (#27702301) Journal

    'Moreover, even if US trademark laws somehow reached this noncommercial activity, the artists' use of the mark is an obvious fair use.'

    Wikipedia is not non-commercial, it's non-profit (from their pages: "a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity").

    Both non-profit and non-commercial entities can hold trade marks. Both can be held in violation of same.

    Since they use the exact trade mark (again, from their pages: "Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.") rather than a generic derivative of it (ie. Wikiart) without obtaining permission, they are in violation. Specifically, by appearing as though they might be part of Wikipedia (disclaimers may follow but do not prevent prima facie assumption) Wikipedia's mark is subject to potential dilution. The law serves to protect against that specifically.

    I blame Wikipediaart for the problem, even if it's due to ignorance. I doubt Wikipedia/Wikimedia wants to be seen doing this. However, they have to. Not to do so leaves them open to loss of protection should someone else do the same. Yes, it applies to trade mark as well as copyright. We've had the discussion before and references to the laws provided. A summary article with references can be found at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tm.htm [harvard.edu]

    Fair use does apply to trademark are well as copyright. However, it requires "non-imitative" use (http://www.publaw.com/fairusetrade.html ). The look and feel of Wikipediaart is such that it could be dropped whole into Wikipedia and look like it belongs. It is far too imitative. Furthermore, the use of material previously on Wikipedia can lead to "confusion", the point other than "dilution" that the protection exists for.

    I'm disappointed in the EFF attorney. Assertions are being tossed about that are clearly contradicted by the law. I hope the organization doesn't hold the same opinions.

  • by Kuciwalker (891651) on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:24AM (#27702321)
    Fair use deals with copyrights, this is a trademark.

Reference the NULL within NULL, it is the gateway to all wizardry.

Working...