PARIS A French judge has dismissed a defamation
and privacy case against Wikipedia after ruling the free online
encyclopedia was not responsible for information introduced
onto its Web site.
The U.S.-based Wikipedia Foundation, which is behind the
popular compendium, was sued by three French nationals over a
Wikipedia article that said they were gay activists.
Judge Emmanuel Binoche ruled that a 2004 French law limited
Wikipedia's liability and noted that contentious references in
the disputed article had in any case been removed.
"Web site hosts cannot be liable under civil law because of
information stored on them if they do not in fact know of their
illicit nature," Binoche said in his written ruling released at
the Paris civil law court earlier this week.
Moreover, Web site hosts are not legally bound to monitor
or investigate the origin of the information they store, he
Binoche did not rule on the whether the information
contained in the article was defamatory and dismissed the
plaintiffs' claim for damages.
A legal expert quoted by the Le Monde daily on Friday said
it was the first legal case in Europe against Wikipedia, which
was founded in 2001.
The community-written encyclopedia provides more than 8
million encyclopedia entries in 250 languages, including 2
million in English. It is produced by volunteers and anyone
with Internet access can offer new entries or edit existing