Brad Patrick

Foundation hires Brad Patrick as general counsel and interim executive director

The Wikimedia Foundation announced on Monday that it has hired Brad Patrick as general counsel and interim executive director. The announcement followed a resolution earlier this month authorizing the employment of a full time CEO and legal counsel for the Foundation, which operates Wikipedia and its sister projects.

Brad Patrick, general counsel and interim executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, in St. Augustine, Florida.

Patrick has been involved with Wikipedia for several months, volunteering legal help to the Foundation for most of the time. Patrick is a practicing lawyer who, before joining the Foundation, worked at Fowler White Boggs Banker in St. Petersburg, Florida in technology and intellectual property litigation. He has an extensive history of legal work, having prior experience with firms in Washington and with top 100 software companies. Patrick was granted administrative rights on the English Wikipedia in April, although he was not promoted through Requests for adminship, the usual route for promotion.

Jimbo Wales commented on the hiring, saying that “[Patrick] has a keen grasp of the opportunities and challenges involved in our tremendous growth, and a great appreciation for the work done by our community of volunteers. Brad's advice and support has been a tremendous asset to us so far, and we look forward to his help in setting the professional side of the organization on a firm footing."

Patrick’s new role includes serving both as general counsel and interim executive director. As general counsel, Patrick will continue providing legal assistance to the Foundation. His role as executive director – essentially equivalent to that of a CEO in a for-profit corporation – is only interim, though; he will only assume the responsibilities while the Foundation, led by Patrick, conducts a full search for a permanent executive director. As interim executive director, Patrick will help the Board and Foundation oversee all operations, activities, and staff, including helping with “business deals, legal matters, finance, audit, planing [sic], etc.”

In a statement to the community, Wales expressed optimism at the hiring and at the improvements to the Foundation and its projects Patrick’s hiring will bring. “[The] need for fulltime legal counsel should be obvious to everyone involved with the projects,” he said. “We are increasingly approached with interesting opportunities to partner with various organizations in ways that are consistent with our community values and missions… [in addition, we are faced with the] ever increasing burden as we grow more popular of legal complaints that we continue to try to deal with in a timely and effective manner.” He continued by emphasizing the need for the position of an executive director, commenting that “the need for help in the executive arena is also obvious to most of you… We, the board, have been overwhelmed for many months, and we need help and assistance.”

Wales also commented that Patrick was hired because “he is of the community, actively involved for several months, and deeply committed to our mission.” Wales also stressed that the search for a permanent executive director would take more time, involving careful consideration from both the Foundation and community. “We intend to hire a fulltime Executive Director following a very careful process of consulting with the community, building support globally, defining what the foundation needs, and [conducting] a comprehensive search for a good candidate, both *within the existing community* and *outside the community*,” he said. “It is my intention that we be very very careful in this process to preserve our fundamentally community-driven model, while at the same time adding professionalism to the organization in order to empower and defend the community model.” In addition, Wales also re-emphasized his message: “I intend to keep repeating my same message strongly and simply: it is my intention to build upon and extend our radical methods of openness and community involvement, while at the same time playing close attention to the needs of the organization which makes all of that possible. Whatever side any of you personally may come down on, relating to some of the details of all that, I hope that you will join me in saying that our similarities and hopes and dreams for the future are more important than any minor differences, and that we can work our way forward as we always have... slowly and carefully, with genuine respect for everyone who is taking part in the discussions in a constructive way.”

A FAQ was set up pertaining to the introduction of the position of executive director following the hiring. The FAQ clarified that the Foundation would still accept outside legal help whenever possible, saying that “the Foundation will continue to rely on volunteer (pro bono) assistance from other attorneys, and the General Counsel will organize and coordinate their efforts.” In addition, the FAQ also stressed that the position of executive director would mainly deal with the business side of the Foundation, not the community side; the FAQ clarified that “for the most part, the Executive Director will not be involved with how the community operates on individual projects.”

Patrick also set up a FAQ about his hiring. In it, Patrick commented on his relationship with the Foundation and Wales, saying that he had first met Wales in December 2005. In addition, when asked why he was interested in working for the Foundation, he said that “with [the Wikimedia Foundation], I found an opportunity to combine interests in pursuit of great online content through a community structure that I believe in, support, and want to grow and evolve. It happens I can apply my years of experience as a lawyer in general practice, litigation, and technology to the Foundation's activities.” Patrick also re-emphasized the role he will play in dealing with the community, commenting that “as far as the community is concerned, the best job I can do is keep the projects running smoothly by staying out of the way… I am amazed at [the community’s] energy and success in growing and attracting readers and editors.” In an interview with the Signpost in March of this year regarding Office actions, Patrick, then a volunteer legal counsel for the Foundation, said that his “job [was] to advise the Board and protect the Foundation if they are sued.”

Community reaction to the hiring was generally positive, with many users expressing opinions that Patrick was an ideal person for the role of general counsel and interim executive director. “Great news. All my interactions with Brad have been very positive, and his willingness to help on legal issues has been invaluable,” said Sannse. “Congratulations Brad.”

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Could we have a clarification about what "top 100 software companies" means? Fortune 100, maybe, or something else? Anville 00:29, 20 June 2006 (UTC).[reply]

Internet libel

The [London] Court of Appeal this month confirmed the boxing promoter Don King's right to sue Lennox Lewis US-based lawyer in the UK for defamation in respect of allegations made over the Internet.

Allegations were made by Judd Burstein, Lennox Lewis's New York lawyer, concerning Mr King on two websites which are both based in the US. Mr Justice Eady found that the English courts had jurisdiction to hear the claim. On appeal from this judgment Burstein argued that the New York courts were the more appropriate forum to hear the claim and the English Court should therefore decline jurisdiction.

According to Ian De Freitas, a partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner specialising in defamation and intellectual property rights pertaining to the internet, said that the case illustrated the approach of English and other commonwealth countries to Internet defamation. "The reach of English defamation law over Internet publications can again be seen in a case involving parties who are all substantially based in the United States where the publication emanated from the United States," he commented.

In rejecting Burstein's appeal, the Court of Appeal laid down four basic principles stemming from case law derived from the leading authority in this area, Spiliada Maritime Corp. v Cansulex Limited.

Firstly, in tort cases, as with defamation, there was a presumption that England was the appropriate forum because that is the place where the tort has been committed. English law treats the publication of an Internet posting as taking place where it is downloaded.

Secondly, this presumption was only a starting point. The court must also consider the extent of publication abroad and the nature of the claimant's connections with England. The more tenuous the connections and the more substantial the publication abroad, the weaker the presumption that England is the appropriate forum based upon the place where the tort is committed.

Thirdly, where someone chooses to publish on the Internet to the whole world, they cannot be too particular about where they find themselves being sued for defamation as a result.

The Appeal judges followed the Australian case of Gutnick v Dow Jones in rejecting a "single publication rule" applied in the United States which presumes that you sue in the place of first publication. Finally, the Court affirmed the approach that the court's role is first to ascertain where the more appropriate forum is, and only if this is overseas to then take into account any legal or procedural advantages in bringing the claim in England to decide that the proceedings should remain in England in any event.

However, the UK Defamation Act 1996 settled the law on the liability of a site owner or internet service provider.

By remaining vigilant and removing offensive postings, they can take advantage of a defence which protects anyone but a publisher, author or editor from libel claims, and which is explicitly framed to apply to electronic service providers. 10:21, 21 November 2006 (UTC)[reply]


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