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Mayor of Florence Sues Wikipedia 196

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:2, Insightful)

    by Grax ( 529699 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @11:09AM (#22609806) Homepage
    FYI, I overlooked the Italian nature of this issue. I looked into this in the United States.
  • Florence. where ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @11:50AM (#22609972)
    (There are Florence's in Florida, Georgia, California and for all I know every state in the Union.)

    Since this particular Florence is the one in Italy, the laws on defamation are pretty different from the US. I would not trust any legal
    analysis in Slashdot for any jurisdiction, but for Italy I would trust it even less than usual.
  • by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @11:54AM (#22609996)
    If a conflict of interest exists and someone points it out, you can't (successfully) sue them for defamation. Stating the truth counts as a rock-solid defense.

    Apparently this is not the case in Italy though. Maybe we should send the good mayor an hour long looping clip of the scene in "A Few Good Men" where Jack Nicholson rails, "you can't handle the truth!"
  • by headpushslap ( 583517 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @12:21PM (#22610124)
    The point is not that you can edit it, but that libelous statements can permanently damage someones' reputation.

    Suing for money is one remedy, you could also sue for a written or posted apology or retraction, or many other things.
  • by GreatBunzinni ( 642500 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @12:23PM (#22610136)
    Not quite. Politicians end up using the lawsuit weapon as a damage minimization tool. When the damaging information is already out and there is no possibility to make it go away, to avoid looking corrupt they usually start a bunch of lawsuits so that they can get some spotlight time to announce the world that the entire scandal is nothing more than a smear campaign targeting an innocent, upright citizen. They use that time to tell the world (at least their constituents) that the accusations are nothing more than vicious lies and that they are going to fight those nasty, evil liars and bring them to justice. Then the lawsuit goes on very uninterestingly, the media loses interest on the case, everyone forgets the whole thing and then it doesn't matter the outcome of the case. After all, the last thing that their constituents have heard about that problem was that that honorable politician was fighting those liars who were trying to smear his good name.
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @12:44PM (#22610244)
    Illiterate twit. He was, in fact, pointing out that America is not the center of the world and that Slashdot readers shouldn't assume that a basic tenet of American law applies anywhere else.

    Sheesh. With friends like you ...
  • by BUL2294 ( 1081735 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @12:46PM (#22610252)
    First off, I think Wikipedia should ignore the Italian courts and give a big virtual F-U. I think more companies are going to start doing that over Internet posts, sites, etc. and claim they're only bound by their home laws. (The French charges against eBay for allowing the sale of Nazi memorabilia come to mind). I think this lawsuit thing is the tip of the iceberg--companies and individuals will start getting sued in foreign jurisdictions because a particular comment, post, etc. was "made available" to a computer in that foreign country...

    Which makes me start to realize something... Let's say a government pressed criminal charges. Here's a hypothetical example that doesn't seem so far-fetched... I make an anti-Chinese government site/post/blog from my home PC in the US, and that really pisses the Chinese government off. Since there's no free speech in China (but my website manages to get past the Great Firewall of China), I get criminally charged with "disrespecting the government" or some crap like that and they issue an international arrest warrant. I could then be arrested in the US and would have to hire a lawyer as to why I shouldn't be extradited to China--even though I exercised my right to free speech according to the US Constitution, while in the US . Even if I persuade a judge to not grant the extradition request (in all likelihood, at great expense to me), I could never travel outside the US as I could be arrested at any time and extradited from a country with no vested interest in preventing a foreigner from being extradited to China. Frightening, isn't it?
  • by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <> on Saturday March 01, 2008 @12:49PM (#22610260) Homepage Journal
    The best part is that 'weblogs' like Slashdot pick up these stories and their likelihood of becoming common knowledge explode. Wikipedia is 'reporting' this story and they are being sued over spreading this 'untruth' - now Slashdot has just reported it too. Will the mayor of Florence sue CNN when it hits the mainstream media?

  • Re:Defense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @12:54PM (#22610298)

    Firstly, these exceptions are narrow and not relevant to this discussion, bringing them up is immature pedantry. The politician's wives being discussed are not dead and their place on a board is not a natural defect. These exceptions are there because speaking ill of the dead and teasing physical defects achieves no purpose, the general spirit of the law remains that someone has the right to say the truth if it has a point.

    Secondly, truth is actually narrower than legal-truth in defamation cases (as discussed in the wikipedia article) since in most cases the defendant must only show that they had a reasonable belief that it was true, rather than it actually being so. If you misunderstand reality you are not liable for speaking your mind unless it can be proven that you were negligent with your facts, i.e. published without checking them. As for real truth, well truth is truth, the courts aren't far enough up their own arse to start calling black white when it comes to facts outside the courtroom, they have enough to confuse inside.

    Thirdly, for fuck's sake, if you're going to discuss law at least write "you", capitalise the first letter of sentences and stop using ellipsis as a comma. It makes it easier to read and makes people take you seriously. A little sloppy spelling and grammar is fine, but deliberately garbling a word just to save two letters from your sentence is just pathetic.

  • Re:Defense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Miseph ( 979059 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @11:09PM (#22613336) Journal
    Parent never said that Italians care less about the truth, he simply noted that Italian defamation law may not be the same as American defamation law. It is entirely possible that some detail of the Wikipedia entry runs afoul of Italian law regardless of whether or not it is true.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen