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German court tangles with Wikipedia

For the moment, the German version of Wikipedia is up and running, as part of the back and forth over a lawsuit against the site's operator.


A German court has temporarily granted Wikimedia Deutschland permission to send its readers to the German language version of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that lets its users write and edit articles. That's the latest development to follow the filing of a lawsuit over an article that allegedly revealed the real name of a teenage hacker. The family of the boy sued to shut the site down, citing privacy violations.

A notice on the Wikipedia Germany site says that as of Friday, may direct its readers to the German version of the encyclopedia. A court order earlier in the week had forbidden sending traffic to that home page.

While the ban was in effect, bloggers were quick to point out that a version of the story was still available both in English and in German. The case once again raises the question of how to deal with national law in the face of an international Web.

Blog community response:

"The problem for those seeking legal redress is that the Internet is no respecter of national borders, which makes judicial proceedings such as this as well as certain laws all but pointless."
--Ars Technica

"The shutdown is also pointless -- the original article is still available from Wikipedia's US servers, even the version in German. The German court order also says that the hacker's full name can't be mentioned on sites, again raising the question of just where local jurisdiction stops on the internet."

"National litigation rendered nonsensical by a supranational web."