Libel by Wikimedia
While libel against Wikimedia seems legally not to be able to exist, the potential for a libel suit alleging libel by Wikimedia to seek damages from the Wikimedia Foundation is quite real. Consider that:
- Wikimedia publishes material in many languages all over the world. The odds of there being at least one libellous statement in that corpus at any one time is 100%. This is a w:glass house as far as libel suits are concerned.
- Wikimedia publishes several vile mailing lists seemingly devoted to lies about its opponents, and even its supporters. It is sometimes described as a "libel pit". Over time, however, James Wales and others of his friends always prevail due to his ownership status, and his final editorial decisions always stand. Accordingly he or Bomis (which controls the Wikimedia Board of Trustees majority) is definitely the legal publisher, at least of these lists.
- Wikimedia has appointed at least one person who engages habitually in the above behaviour to the post of Treasurer. This person is also the founder of the institution! Accordingly, funds donated to the Foundation are spent on the furtherance of libellous statements under the supervision of the chief libeller. It does not help the situation that this person may also be guilty of filing false police reports, which is perjury if done under oath.
- False and unsubstantiated claims stored in Wikimedia archives and sources are spread all over the net via mirrors, and used constantly in ongoing attacks on the reputation of parties who it thinks oppose it or its objectives. Even if these contain obvious false statements, or allegations as if they were fact, they are never corrected or properly marked as such, and are available for use in any smear campaign that anyone in the world cares to engage in. What is more, as they spread, these packaged lies tend to expand with further allegations attached, and encourage more casual use of names and damage to reputations of parties otherwise uninvolved. There is probably no clearer basis for a libel suit than that!
It may not matter, legally, whether any of this is done with knowledge of Wikimedia or not. They are legally responsible to supervise what they have published and to take steps to remove materials that are provably false, libellous or otherwise violate the law in the places where the material is visible, received by users.