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Wikimedia Foundation declares "victory" in Wikivoyage lawsuit

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By The ed17

On February 15, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) declared "victory" in its counter-lawsuit against Internet Brands (IB), the owner of Wikitravel and the operator of several online media, community, and e-commerce sites in vertical markets. Signpost readers will recall that IB is in turn owned by private equity investors Hellman & Friedman LLC, which bought the company in a US$640M deal. The lawsuit clears the last remaining hurdles for the WMF's new travel guide project, Wikivoyage.

In August 2012, Wikitravel contributors wished to create a new, non-commercial travel guide under the auspices of the WMF. The process began in April 2012, with significant segments of the Wikitravel contributors in support. Though the process bogged down in the following months, a request for comment on the matter gained 78% support for starting a Wikimedia-affiliated travel guide project. But IB indicated that it would not give up without a fight; there were several ominous warning signs, including the IB legal department's ultimatum to eight Wikitravel volunteer editors: "Please be advised that your recent actions communicating directly with members of Wikitravel could put you in violation of numerous federal and state laws. We strongly urge you to cease and desist all action detrimental to If you persist in this course of conduct, you will potentially be a named defendant, and therefore liable for any and all resulting damages."

Things came to a head in September, when the company sued two volunteer editors, Doc James (James Heilman) and Wrh2 (Ryan Holliday), focusing on their encouragement of Wikitravel editors to fork and join a Wikimedia-run travel guide (see our special report: "Two Wikipedians may face jury trial"). Geoff Brigham, the WMF's general counsel, stated yesterday that in the lawsuit:

This lawsuit was dismissed in November.

Soon after IB's action, though, the WMF countered with its own lawsuit, asking the court to declare that:

After clearing several hurdles and receiving a tentative ruling in the WMF's favor, the second lawsuit ended on 14 February in a negotiated settlement between the two entities. IB agreed to release the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikivoyage e.V., the not-for-profit operator of the original Wikivoyage, from "any and all claims related in any manner to the creation and operation of the travel wiki project" in return for the WMF's dismissal of the lawsuit. Brigham summed up the outcome at the end of his Wikimedia blog post:

Ryan Holliday, one of the two volunteers who were originally sued, commented:

In brief

Twice25, an Italian Wikipedian, passed away this week.
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The current version seems to suggest that the Affiliations Committee has seven members. This is not correct - currently the committee has 11 members, normally this is 10. effeietsanders 21:54, 20 February 2013 (UTC)[reply]

There are seven voting members; the article has been changed to reflect that. Thanks, Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 22:10, 20 February 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Hi Ed, thanks for looking into it, but I'm afraid also this is incorrect. Please see the Page on meta for a more elaborate explanation on its membership. There are currently 11 voting members. I do not understand where you get the impression there are only 7 - is there some documentation to be updated? effeietsanders 23:27, 22 February 2013 (UTC)[reply]
I can't read charts, apparently—completely my fault, with none on your part. Thank you for the help! Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 21:21, 23 February 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • Wait. About the Italian editor who died. With over 130,000 edits under his belt and from reading the text that he was popular, he doesn't have a section at Wikipedia:Deceased Wikipedians yet? GamerPro64 02:20, 21 February 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  • I do not know where the link is, but there is something else interesting about the WikiVoyage lawsuit. The WMF made a policy of some sort relating to this that said that they had the option to use community funds to provide legal defense to community members who faced lawsuits in response to their activities in promoting the Wikimedia community. I am not making any judgment calls about this case in any way, but the important precedent to me in this case is how the WMF has shown a commitment to backing community members who need legal counsel. Blue Rasberry (talk) 04:15, 21 February 2013 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, the WMF is to be commended for their support of the editing community. The policy I think you are refering to is at meta:Legal and Community Advocacy/Legal Fees Assistance Program, which came about after an RfC at meta:Request for comment/Legal Fees Assistance Program. The support from the WMF is very much appreciated. (talk) 00:42, 22 February 2013 (UTC)[reply]


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