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Wikipedia The Courts

Wikipedia Editors Hit With $10 Million Defamation Suit 268

New submitter Andreas Kolbe writes: "Businessman, philanthropist and musician Yank Barry and the Global Village Champions Foundation are suing four Wikipedia editors for defamation, claiming they have maliciously conspired to keep Barry's Wikipedia biography unduly negative. The Daily Dot article includes a copy of the legal brief and quotes Barry as saying, "My page was so ridiculously false and made me sound like a terrible person and people believed it causing deals to fall through. I finally had enough."
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Wikipedia Editors Hit With $10 Million Defamation Suit

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  • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @02:36AM (#47312899) Homepage

    Reading the Wikipedia article, it doesn't seem all that negative.
    There are some negative details in there, but these are simple facts, stated in a short and factual manner.
    If you don't want people to know of your extortion practices, then either don't extort people or do a better job at it so you don't get convicted for it in a public court.

  • This is brilliant!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by snero3 ( 610114 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:10AM (#47313029) Homepage
    " I made a deal with God that whatever I save in tax, I give to kids.”[16]" I nearly chocked when I read that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:35AM (#47313105)

    That's what it looks like today -- after months of editwarring, followed by 2+ weeks of people trying to "fix" it, because of the bad publicity brought by the lawsuit.

    On 7 May, it looked like this [].
    On 15 March, this [] is how it looked.
    All because of the four people Barry is now suing.

  • Re:RTFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:39AM (#47313119)

    ...don't get convicted for it...

    If you read the original article... the daily dot says "Collins and Barry were acquitted in 2005, the AP added."
    If you read the AP article the headline "Former Prisons Chief, Viapro Exec Acquitted" gives you a clue that
    the content includes "A federal judge acquitted a former Texas prisons chief and a Canadian businessman..."

    Acquitted is LIKE convicted only just the exact opposite.


  • Re:RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by kactusotp ( 2709311 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @04:18AM (#47313231)
    Well digging through some of the other pages I image it is stuff like this that he objects to []
  • Re:Who is that? (Score:5, Informative)

    by FatLittleMonkey ( 1341387 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @04:32AM (#47313259)

    Who is that?

    Yank Barry? He's a convicted extortionist who worked for the Mafia in Montreal in the '80s. After being released from prison, he founded a company that sells fake food to (sometimes fake) clients, through which he conned celebrity endorsements by promising to donate food via his fake charities. []

  • Re:But is it false? (Score:5, Informative)

    by FatLittleMonkey ( 1341387 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @04:46AM (#47313285)

    There's nothing in the Wikipedia article that hasn't been printed in the press about Barry. And the page is actually pretty tame compared to what they could add. (Putting fake clients on the website for his fake-meat company, for example. His phony "nominations" for a Nobel Peace Prize. Etc. None of those things are mentioned in the article, yet they meet Wikipedia citation standards.)

  • by JosKarith ( 757063 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:01AM (#47313319)
    I'm sure you can just look it up on Wikipedia.
  • Re:RTFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:02AM (#47313321)

    Try again. He was convicted then acquitted of bribery . He was convicted and served time for extortion . Two different cases.

    Reading comprehension is like stupidity, only just the exact opposite.

  • Re:Who is that? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @09:26AM (#47314357) Journal

    Kind of like how climate change activists erased the Medieval Warm Period off of Wikipedia a few years ago.

    [citation needed].

    Here's the current article: Medieval Warm Period []. It has a couple of pages of detailed text, a pair of graphs of temperature records, and three photographs of locations or artifacts relevant to the MWP's effect on human history. The article has 41 footnotes, mostly to peer-reviewed journal articles.

    Five years ago: 2009 version []. A little over a page, one graph, one photo. 25 footnotes.

    For fun, ten years ago: 2004 version []. Six paragraphs (three of which are a single sentence). Zero figures, zero photographs. Just 4 inline references.

    Scrolling through the article's editing history [] I don't find any period where anyone "erased" the MWP, aside from some short-lived vandalism. At no point is there any intimation in the article that the MWP didn't occur or was otherwise not a real thing. The article appears to have grown steadily in length, quality, and detail over the last decade, but its central points appear to have remained essentially unchanged. Your comment, however, appears quite typical of climate change deniers--boldly stating things that are patently untrue in order to gain the emotional support of people who don't fact-check you, while wasting the time of the people who do.

  • by McGruber ( 1417641 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @09:29AM (#47314377)

    An April 15, 2012 National Post newspaper article by Joe O'Connor:

    The world according to Yank: Montrealer with checkered past gets Nobel nod, or does he? []

    Mr. Barry is never far from the spotlight. He was the focus of a 4,000-word investigative report by the Montreal Gazette in October 1998.

    The front page article delved into Global Village Market, a company through which he was selling VitaPro, and one he marketed to potential investors with the help of the motto: “doing well by doing good.”

    Mr. Barry’s pitch, backed by some celebrity punch, reportedly sold investors on the notion that the more money the company made the more food he would distribute to the needy.

    Celine Dion was one of the celebrities involved. She was led to believe that she was endorsing a humanitarian mission to Africa led by Mr. Ali, and engineered by Yank Barry. She taped a message trumpeting her support for a purely philanthropic cause. Said message, in audiotape form was then, unbeknownst to Ms. Dion, reportedly used by Mr. Barry as part of his promotional material selling investment units in Global Village Market, a for-profit business.

    Cracks appeared early in the enterprise. Promises of philanthropy dried up. Investors lost everything and several lodged complaints against Mr. Barry with the Quebec Securities Commission. The securities regulator did not sanction Mr. Barry, though the entire episode lingers as a sore spot for many, including Celine Dion.

    Her image still appears on the Global Village Champions Foundation website, a presence that irks Paul-Andre Martel, the Montreal lawyer representing the famous singer and husband, Rene Angelil.

    “My clients have absolutely no involvement with Mr. Barry or his organization,” Mr. Martel said. “What we think is that Mr. Barry is using the name and the fame of people that have spent time with Mr. Ali over the years.”

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @09:40AM (#47314445) Journal
    As it happens, the US has specific legislation to the contrary []. In a strikingly atypical turn of events, this so-called "SPEECH Act" (yes, 'Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage' is one hell of a tortured attempt to get a cute acronym; but congress loves that stuff) passed unanimously in both the house and senate, (111th congress) before being signed by Obama in 2010.

    The TL;DR is that the US Will Not in any way assist in the enforcement of a foreign defamation judgement against a US citizen or alien lawfully residing in the US at the time of their allegedly defamatory speech unless the domestic court being asked to enforce the judgement finds that either the US person was convicted in a court offering protection equivalent to, or greater than, that provided by the first amendment and any other state laws and constitutional provisions that would apply to the domestic court or that, while the foreign court was not up to those standards, the accused would still have been convicted had such standards been applied. The burden of demonstrating one, the other, or both, is on the person wishing to have the foreign defamation judgement enforced in the US.

    So, while you may end up reducing the number of countries you can safely vacation in or catch a connecting flight through (Looking at you, London Heathrow), you have quite broad protection, if you qualify as a US person for the purposes of the act, to tell anyone pursuing a defamation case outside the US to kiss your constitutionally protected, at least in this context, ass. In practice, the UK is basically the country we wrote this against; but it applies to any foreign defamation judgements whatsoever.
  • by schnell ( 163007 ) <me@sch n e l l . net> on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:16AM (#47315161) Homepage

    I'm not a lawyer, I don't know the details of libel laws, but I was relatively sure that good faith belief is all that is required.

    At least in the United States, the rules for libel [] are different based on whether or not the libeled party is a "public figure" or not. If someone is Joe Average, the only requirement is to prove that you said something incorrect about them which caused quantifiable damages. "Public figures," however, are expected to have good and bad things said about them as part of normal discourse. (Otherwise Ke$ha could sue someone for saying her album sucked.) So for public figures, the libeled party must prove that not only is the thing you said wrong, you must also have known it was wrong and had malicious intent in doing so. It's a high bar to meet, and that's why you see so few celebrities or politicians suing for libel - there's usually only provable malice in a few cases where a tabloid is printing knowingly false information in order to boost sales, etc.

  • by Yakasha ( 42321 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @12:56PM (#47316319) Homepage

    It is not whether or not he has a crooked dogs hind leg to stand on, it is whether or not he can conspire via his lawyers to intimidate those person with the threat of court costs.

    Are you trying to be funny? I ask because after reading the article and some of the discussions and edits, that is exactly the kind of language that was going on his page that he is suing over. If the man is acquitted, especially because the case was "flimsy", why would you be referring to him with negative words like "crooked", "conspire", and "intimidate" and focus on that period of his life? Are you just a rich-hater? Anybody with money that tries to defend their reputation is "clearly intending to threaten all Wikipedia contributors with threats of civil suits by the wealthy"?

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"