User talk:Gianfranco/Wikimedia Italia sued for 20,000,000 €

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Thanks for writing this up, Gianfranco. Do you have links to some of the news reports about the lawsuit?--ragesoss (talk) 15:25, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Frieda is collecting the few we know about, by now, in this page (they're all in Italian); the page is frequently updated. Major press is silent, at the moment. --g (talk) 15:39, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
I'd like to point out that the supposed "defamation" was in fact made of
  • Reports of court rulings and arrests by italian police
  • News from major newspapers and news agencies (as of Repubblica, ANSA, La Stampa and such), still available online
  • A NPOV exposition of facts widely known and covered by news sources
--Jollyroger (talk) 15:44, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Major reactions from the Italian community can be found here and here. Nothing in Frieda's talk until now. --Elitre (talk) 20:09, 15 September 2009 (UTC)


Very informative write-up. Under Italian law, could a counter-suit be filed to recoup the court costs? - Draeco (talk) 19:45, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Generally speaking no, the court decides in the sentence which part should pay for the "public" expenses (the cost of the trial) and usually it forces the loser to refund legal costs (those you pay "to the Tribunal", roughly said, for standing in judgement, and the lawyers' fees) to its opponent. But this is not a rule, the judge may decide in any direction, even if usually the loser pays for them. When the court determines who has to pay, the question is closed. --g (talk) 20:11, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
I think what Draeco may mean is that on top of having the court decide that the loosing party will pay for the expenses of the other party, some legal systems know the concept of "frivolous lawsuit" ie that as a remedy to the fact that anybody may sue anybody in front of any judge without any filter, the person that is attacked under a frivolous lawsuit (ie, wrong person, obviously no reason, etc) may countersuit on the basis of the fact that the attack is obviously frivolous (ie anybody could have known that the action has no merit whatsoever) and may have the attacker condemned not only for the cost, but also to (punitive) damages. Asavaa (talk) 05:36, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, there is something like "frivolous lawsuit": it's called "lite temeraria", (daring litigation, in a rough translation), but it is a very unusual decision. It's sometimes used when the litigation is prolonged by the plaintiff with the evident mean of harassing the defendant, or when the plaintiff has sued a random person: unfortunately, i guess most of the judges would accept the thesis that Wikimedia Italia, Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia could be honestly mistaked.
AFAIK you don't have to countersuit (this is a very unusual practice in italian procedure), it is a decision that a judge may or may not take and apply to the legal expenses of the plaintiff. --Jollyroger (talk) 10:04, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

(edit conflict :-) The "frivolous lawsuit" has an equivalent in Italy in the "lite temeraria" (art. 96 codice di procedura civile); the matter was revised in latest June, and I haven't read really much about the sense and the practical meaning of the changes, yet. The law says that the judge, when requested by the winner defendant, can order the loser plaintiff to refund damages (which usually include not patrimonial damages, like biological damage). This is orderd by the judge in the sentence.
To be concrete: being the situation covered by discretion, I don't know whether it could be formally said, in this case, that it was a "lite temeraria", even if the question smells alot of that. Of course, many details suggest it was, but we might be missing details to evaluate the whole ;-) --g (talk) 10:05, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Response from Mike Godwin[edit]

Mike Godwin (Wikimedia's general council) responded on the foundation-l mailing list, noting that

We've had a lot of experience of spurious reports of lawsuits originating in

Italy. In the majority of those cases, Wikimedia Foundation itself never receives service of process -- in effect, the cases only really "exist" in Italian media. I'm not saying that's the case here, but we haven't heard anything yet from Italian process servers yet.

I'd like to see any official complaints that have been filed in Italian courts (or elsewhere) against Wikimedia Italia. The chapter's defense (the chapter doesn't produce Wikipedia content) should be straightforward under any European legal regime, but obviously we will take an interest in any case that seems to be going the wrong way.

and regarding Frieda Brioschi, in case the edits were made during her term on the WMF board, that

WMF routinely provides director-and-officer liability protection regarding

actions taken by WMF directors and officers in the conduct of their duties.

Just to be precise, Italian media, on the contrary, are avoiding to talk about this lawsuit, and this is why I wrote my summary here, in order to let WikiPedians know.
I can't actually say whether Italy can be considered a "European legal regime" or not, but this is not a priority; it is our regime and it is here that we have to see how it will end. I completely understand, in fact, the concerns that are in the Italian WikiMedians' minds at the moment. I usually don't get scared by a gust of wind, and so don't our friends in WMI; therefore, there could be a reason if we are all so much interested into this case (which WikiMedian friends described to me, and their word was sufficient for me to take it seriously). Italian WikiMedians and simple Italian WikiPedians, like I am.
In order to avoid further worries, I would underline that no one is trying to forward the trouble to anywhere else; I said that the true target is WikiPedia, and even if I'm not native in English, I know what I wrote. --g (talk) 15:21, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

I'm astonished by those message from Mike and some other people on that thread:
  1. There is a cause pending: the papers were delivered by the Court of Rome to Frieda and I have personally seen them (I live with her). Suggesting it could be just a "spurious report" because WMF has not received a notification is simply absurd, since the part involved is WMI, not WMF!
  2. AFAIK, the whole board of directors, legal council and Internal list were notified immediately. Jimbo "lost" the message, apparently, so did Mike... do anyone read those lists?
  3. I'd like to see a word from Frieda about the "legal advice" provided up to now by WMF officers and by our well-paid legal advisor.
  4. Please don't try to understand Italian media, they are so f**k'd up that could blow your mind: take my word that it is not unheard of dirty deeds by some politician going "unnoticed" and covered up. I'm starting to think that this is the case.
--Jollyroger (talk) 12:43, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

As in other occasions, Mike offered us to send an official mail stating something like "Wikimedia Italia is not the italian legal responsible for WMF". Our lawyer is currently estimating this proposal. Frieda (talk) 19:34, 17 September 2009 (UTC)


The question is reported by Pier Ferdinando Casini, which is an important moderate political leader, on his blog; Casini underlines the importance and the centrality of Wikipedia in everyday's life in Italy --g (talk) 19:41, 17 September 2009 (UTC)


In case someone wonders, the trial is still ongoing. --Nemo 11:20, 7 April 2013 (UTC)

Another year has passed, is that still ongoing? Heikki Vanionpåå (talk) 12:26, 21 June 2014 (UTC)
yes, we are slowly getting closer to the final step, but the case is still open (I know that many didn't believe me when I wrote that it would have taken years... ;-) --g (talk) 13:35, 22 June 2014 (UTC)