legal history

  1. March 23rd 2009: Initial letter from Douglas Isenberg, legal counsel for Wikimedia (jpg, pdf)
  2. April 3rd 2009: Response by James Martin, whom we paid for legal advice (jpg, pdf)
  3. April 9th 2009: Response from Wikimedia via email
  4. April 17th 2009: email from Paul Levy to Mike Godwin (We began working with Paul Levy at Public Citizen in part because he is offering pro-bono support. Godwin is Wikimedia’s general counsel, who hired Isenberg.)
  5. April 17th 2009: additional email from Paul Levy to Mike Godwin
  6. April 18th 2009: another email from Paul Levy to Mike Godwin
  7. April 28th 2009: Corynne McSherry covers the legal issues on the Electronic Frontier Foundation site

Note: we have chosen not to share Godwin’s responses to Levy’s emails (above) without his express permission.

Personal Statement on Wikimedia’s challenge to Wikipedia Art
by Scott Kildall

On March 23rd, 2009, I received an e-mailed letter from the Wikimedia Foundation (which runs Wikipedia) in which they contest our use of the name “Wikipedia Art” under trademark law. In the letter, they ask us to turn the domain name <> over to them.

Nathaniel Stern and I have been working together throughout this process; I happen to be the registrant of the domain name and am therefore the target of their legal claims. We believe that our domain name (and project) should be protected by fair use and First Amendment rights since <> is a commentary on Wikipedia and is a non-commercial venture.

I initially worked with James Martin, a lawyer from Shartsis Friese LLP, but have subsequently been working with Paul Levy from Public Citizen – they are willing to litigate on a pro-bono basis, if it comes to that point.

I still support the goals of the Wikipedia project, despite my personal disappointment in how they have been handling matters.  I find it distressing that their commitment to an open encyclopedia is in stark contrast with their effort to effectively shut down what is clearly an artistic project that asks us to reflect on the Wikipedia system of knowledge production.

Last year, I was a Wikipedia donor. I find it ironic that some small portion of my monetary contribution may be used to pay for their legal counsel in a potential case against me.

As a matter of public record and interest, we have posted much of the significant legal correspondence and will continue to provide a history of the process as it unfolds.

a collaborative performance and public intervention