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Wikimedia, Internet Brands settle Wikivoyage lawsuits

Lawsuit claimed volunteers for the formerly not-for-profit project were encouraging others to "fork," or copy open-source code to another project.

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Steven Musil
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The Wikimedia Foundation and Internet Brands have agreed to settle all litigation between the two over the recently launched Wikivoyage travel information site.

Wikivoyage is a free, user-generated travel help and information site that anyone can edit. However, a large portion of the content on the site was copied from Wikitravel under the Creative Commons license.

After Internet Brands purchased Wikitravel in 2006, many volunteers on the formerly not-for-profit project grew disillusioned and left, taking much of the site's content with them. In response, Internet Brands filed a lawsuit last August against two volunteers on the Wikivoyage project, claiming not copyright infringement but rather encouraging other volunteers to fork -- the practice of taking open-source code from one project and beginning independent development. Wikimedia filed suit the next month to protect the volunteers and reinforce the legality of forking.

"We regard this settlement as a victory for the Wikimedia movement, and a vindication of our values and beliefs," Wikimedia general counsel Geoff Brigham wrote on a Wikimedia blog post Friday. "The Wikimedia Foundation believes there is enough room for multiple travel sites to co-exist, and for community members to contribute to multiple sites in this area. We have stood by this belief from the beginning, and we believe that a successful, freely-shareable, non-commercial travel project will help support the overall quantity and quality of travel information on the web."

A representative for Internet Brands declined to comment on the settlement.

The settlement comes one month after the official launch of Wikivoyage, which provides users with information on travel destinations and recommendations on restaurants, hotels, nightlife, and more. The site's content is filled out with the open source wiki tool that lets users create, update, and edit any article on the site.