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FBI threatens Wikipedia with action for unauthorized use of their seal

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  • FBI threatens Wikipedia with action for unauthorized use of their seal

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/web/08/...ex.html?hpt=T2

    The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has threatened Wikipedia with legal action if the online encyclopedia doesn't remove the FBI's seal from its site.

    The seal is featured in an encyclopedia entry about the FBI.

    Wikipedia isn't backing down, however. The online encyclopedia -- which is run by a nonprofit group and is edited by the public -- sent a chiding letter to the FBI, explaining why, in its view, the FBI is off its legal rocker.

    "In short, then, we are compelled as a matter of law and principle to deny your demand for removal of the FBI Seal from Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons," the Wikimedia Foundation's general counsel, Mike Godwin, wrote in a letter to the FBI, which was posted online by the New York Times.

    "We are in contact with outside counsel in this matter, and we are prepared to argue our view in court."

    The whimsically written letter from Wikipedia says the FBI's reading of relevant law is both "idiosyncratic" and "more importantly, incorrect." It also notes that the FBI's seal appears on other websites, including in an online entry from Encyclopedia Britannica.

    In a letter dated July 22, and also posted online by the Times, the FBI told Wikipedia it must remove the bureau's seal because the FBI had not approved use of the image.

    "The FBI has not authorized use of the FBI seal on Wikipedia," the letter says. "The inclusion of a high quality graphic of the FBI seal on Wikipedia is particularly problematic, because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting" copying and reprinting of the seal's image.

    The FBI's deputy general counsel, David Larson, cities a particular law that says duplicating an official "insignia" is illegal without permission.

    But Wikipedia strikes back on that point, saying the FBI redacted the most important part of that U.S. code, which defines an insignia as "any badge, identification card, or other insignia."

    "Badges and identification cards are physical manifestations that may be used by a possessor to invoke the authority of the federal government. An encyclopedia article is not," Wikipedia's letter says. "The use of the image on Wikipedia is not for the purpose of deception or falsely to represent anyone as an agent of the federal government."
    FYI, it is in the public domain because it was created for the government under a particular statue, like how government created maps are public domain, but there are restrictions on use of the symbol to impersonate or give the impression of the authority of the FBI.
    |TG-6th|Snooggums

    Just because everyone does something does not mean that it is right to do.

  • #2
    Re: FBI threatens Wikipedia with action for unauthorized use of their seal

    Just... what?

    "The inclusion of a high quality graphic of the FBI seal on Wikipedia is particularly problematic, because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting" copying and reprinting of the seal's image.
    At least Wikipedia's one is big enough for you to read the words, unlike the logo on Certain Other Websites.
    |TG-Irr| westyfield

    Sig pic by Sonic, avatar by Chalcas. Thanks!
    Irregular since 2007.

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