Wikipedia: The FBI's Most Wanted

Late FBI chief, J.Edgar Hoover (left), and Lone Ranger before Wiki was added to the FBI's Most Wanted List.

“In a letter sent to Wikipedia’s San Francisco office, the FBI said that ‘unauthorised reproduction of the FBI Seal was prohibited by US law,’ the BBC reported today. “‘Whoever possesses any insignia … or any colourable imitation thereof … shall be fined … or imprisoned … or both.’”

Them’s fighting words. But why? The problem stems from FBI’s Wikipedia entry which, in addition to providing public information, also features an image of the Seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The BBC notes that the FBI said this was “particularly problematic, because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting violations of restrictions by Wikipedia users.”

But what about all those unofficial uses, like the FBI Seal Generator or All Free Logo and scores of other sites?

Is this protection of real copyright? Does the FBI own its seal or do the American people?

Mike Godwin, Wikipedia’s attorney, stated:

“”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,”

He added that Wikipedia is:

“…prepared to argue our view in court.”

More information at the BBC.

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