The next SCO suit

Wikis are no better than the people who make them.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive
Wikipedia class action
The SCO suits were an attempt to shut down open source based on the idea that everything is owned, or comes from something that is owned, and so the use of any code requires payment to someone.

While that lawsuit is winding down, a new threat is now emerging. It's a class action against Wikipedia, aimed at ending open source information by demanding that "someone take responsibility" for everything published on the Web.

This is just as much a threat to the Internet as the SCO suits. SCO was about open source code, code that is shared and held in common. Wikipedia is about open source information, knowledge that is held in common.

The "scandal" involving John Seigenthaler gave him far more satisfaction than he would have gotten if he had been lied about in, say, The New York Times. The lie was taken down. Wikipedia apologized, The take-down got more publicity than the original lie. The liar was found and lost his job. 

The aim of this class action lawsuit is not to gain redress of grievances, but to get Wikipedia shut down and (more important) prevent anything like it from ever appearing again.

The solution to the idea that some people lie is two-fold. One part is to use multiple sources, as journalists and students are both taught to do. Don't take anyone's word for truth on faith. The second is to give Wikipedia a business model, something it lacks today, a revenue stream (advertising) that would let it pay its editors, and keep people from burning out.

All that would be stopped in its tracks if this lawsuit were to prevail. The best way to prevent that is for the community to react as it reacted to the SCO suits, by rejecting their premise, by seeing where the greed really lies, and by condemning all those involved (including their fellow media travelers).

Wikis are no better than the people who make them. Deal with it. No warrantee is given nor implied. This is inherent in the open source paradigm. What's true for software should be true for words, too.

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