Here in the US we have a law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. One of the many things this law brings about is a protection for a website against content provided by its users, so long as the site complies with takedown notices in a timely manner. This law is what makes it possible for sites like YouTube to allow users to upload content without checking it before publishing it.
Unfortunately, this law and its effects do not extend beyond our borders; a fact that Wikimedia, the organization that owns Wikipedia, found out the hard way. In October, Wikimedia lost a libel case against a person identified as "H," who is the owner of a German television station. On his Wikipedia page, it was listed that he used a Nazi salute on television, downplayed the effects of having sex with children, as well as a slew of employment issues, including producing a "cult-like" environment.
This week, the court posted the full verdict on its website, which states that Wikimedia has responsibilities to its users and the content targets. The court does not claim that Wikimedia needs to fact check before publishing, but does need to look into content when a claim is received.
Now, this sounds a lot like the DMCA clause, with one important caveat: DMCA covers copyright infringement, this covers objective and subjective content written by the site's contributors. So long as the content is not ripped off from another source, Wikipedia is not required to interact with its content within the US, but will need to censor its content if it is not popular or is contested.
We know that Rick Santorum would have liked the ability to have Internet content censored in the US, but what about you? Do you think it is positive or negative for the German government to force Wikipedia to control content on their website? Let us know in the comments.
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