FBI and Wikipedia in massive spat

4 August 2010

A completely typical and ordinary FBI agent

The FBI and Wikipedia and the FBI and Wikipedia and the FBI are going toe-to-toe over the use of its seal. The FBI have sent a nasty letter to Wikipedia's San Francisco office over the "unauthorised reproduction of the FBI Seal" which is "prohibited by US law". "Whoever possesses any insignia...or any colourable imitation thereof..shall be fined...or imprisoned... or both," the FBI wrote.

Instead of cowering at the thought of some FBI drones going round and waterboarding the lot of 'em, Wikipedia have flicked two fingers up and have flatly stated that they have done nothing wrong. Basically, the FBI don't like the fact that their Wikipedia entry which, in addition to information on the US bureau, also features an image of the "Seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation".

The FBI said that this was "particularly problematic, because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting violations of restrictions by Wikipedia users". Quite why Wikipedia have been singled out is a mystery, given that there's thousands of websites out there which feature the logo. Wikipedia's lawyer, Mike Godwin, has written back to the feds saying that there's a rather large difference between the words "problematic" and "unlawful".

"The enactment of [these laws] was intended to protect the public against the use of a recognisable assertion of authority with intent to deceive. The seal is in no way evidence of any 'intent to deceive', nor is it an 'assertion of authority', recognisable or otherwise," he wrote. "We are compelled as a matter of law and principle to deny your demand for removal of the FBI Seal from Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons," said Mr Godwin adding that the firm was "prepared to argue our view in court."

This could end up dramatised in a really dull daytime film! Here's hoping!

[BBC]

TOPICS:   Technology

12 comments

  • Whisky
    "The FBI and Wikipedia and the FBI " erm...
  • Brian's U.
    http://www.brandsoftheworld.com/search/logo/fbi what about those then?
  • Mr G.
    "The FBI and Wikipedia and the FBI" - that's not fair! There are two FBIs ganging up on Wikipedia.
  • Morocco
    FBI = Fucking Brainless Idiots Here come the black helicopters
  • Willy-wonka
    That FBI agent is hot... I am printing out the logo now... come and arrest me!
  • Junkyard
    What the hell is a "colourable imitation" of the FBI seal? Does this prohibit reproducing a line-art version of it in a kiddies colouring book?
  • ivan_the_inebriated
    Most of the late 80s-early 90s arcade games (especially CPS1-2 & NeoGeo) sported the FBI logo along with "Winners Don't Use Drugs" would this constitute an issue too?
  • Howard M.
    They were sponsored by the FBI though.
  • ButterMan
    Winners Don't USe Drugs. Except the winners of Emmys, Oscars, Olympic medals, the Tour de France, BRIT Awards, Nobel prizes (Francis Crick figured out the structure of DNA whilst fucked on LSD), and so on.
  • WIKI
    Fuck the FBI WIKI FTW
  • -]
    Arcade videogames of that era were required to have the screen, so no issue there. Thanks billy sessions!
  • Pete
    Surely the fact the BBC displayed the image as well makes the story a bit ironic?

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