Wiki Authorship, Social Media, and the Curatorial Audience

“Wiki Authorship, Social Media, and the Curatorial Audience”

Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 95, 2010

JON GARON, Hamline University School of Law

Wikis have become an important source of information and a go-to destination on the Internet. The shared authorship and social editing represents an increasingly influential model for content creation and dissemination which will continue growing in prominence for education, training, news gathering and entertainment. Wiki authors undertake their participation based on their agreements regarding the ownership, attribution and integrity of the copyrighted material they contribute. To accomplish the goals of the wiki, both copyright law and contractual licenses are needed allow unlimited republication, editing (or creation of derivative works), and waiver of control (or integrity) over the resulting publication.

At the same time, today’s participants increasingly want to be recognized for their part in social networks and media activities. As part of the newly identified curatorial audience, today’s media consumers participate by creating content, collecting media, commenting on works, and building community around their various interests. Commercial content producers have been driven to reinvent their production and distribution methodology to meet the participatory role of this curatorial audience. Wikis are highly susceptible to these forces and will inevitably evolve to incorporate other forms of social media. Wiki’s traditional norms include a social networking of authorship which excluded not only control and integrity of works but also the sublimation of attribution for particular authors. While collaborative authorship is being embraced by the curatorial audience, the lack of attribution may be running counter to the developing social networking expectations.

This article explores the legal structures and normative rules likely to develop in socially edited content for the Wikis of the future. In keeping with the public migration to attributed online content, this article suggests that collaborative authorship must adapt its normative expectations regarding attribution. Improved attribution will benefit the accuracy and reliability of all social media and new sources, a critical step if news and other content providers hope to regain public trust. For wikis, and particularly for those with academic content, sites should emphasize attribution, content resiliency and audience relevance. These parameters should be integrated into the reporting software. In this way, contributors who have made quantitatively and qualitatively significant submissions can be recognized by research sponsors and academic employers. The ability for academics and researchers to demonstrate their success in creating and disseminating knowledge would propel the continued expansion of social editing resources and public information they generate without harming the open and egalitarian values of wiki culture.


Source:  LSN Intellectual Property Law eJournal Vol. 3 No. 96,  09/01/2010

Wikipedia in Court: When and How Citing Wikipedia and Other Consensus Websites is Appropriate

“Wikipedia in Court: When and How Citing Wikipedia and Other Consensus Websites is Appropriate”

HANNAH B. MURRAY, affiliation not provided to SSRN

JASON C. MILLER, Government of the United States of America – United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Practitioners and courts are relying more and more on Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Hundreds of court opinions, including at least one from every federal circuit court, and thousands of law review articles cite Wikipedia. Some opinions have relied on Wikipedia for technical information, although others only turned to the consensus website for background information on minor points.

This practice has generated controversy, with newspapers, professors, practitioners, and judges weighing in. Wikipedia in Court examines the controversy and the history of Wikipedia in court opinions before proposing a framework to determine when it is appropriate and inappropriate to rely on Wikipedia for authority in legal writing. Given the inconsistency in the legal community’s use of Wikipedia, courts and practitioners will benefit from this framework.


Source:  LSN Legal Writing Vol. 4 No. 32,  12/02/2009

Legal Ontologies Spin a Semantic Web

Legal Ontologies Spin a Semantic Web
By Dr. Adam Z. Wyner
Special to
June 8, 2009

“The Semantic Web, an extension of the current www, promises to make documents meaningful to people and computers by changing how legal knowledge is represented and managed. Dr. Adam Z. Wyner explains how legal ontologies will help complete the new Web’s design.”

From the article:


Consider an example ontology for case law. There are various approaches to find relevant case law — using text-mining software, search tools, proprietary indices or legal research summaries. These approaches can extract some latent linguistic information from the text but often require researchers to craft the results; indeed, successful information extraction depends on an ontology, and as there is not yet a rich ontology of the case law domain, much information in cases cannot be easily extracted or reasoned with. Moreover, none of these approaches apply inference rules.

Reading a case such as Manhattan Loft v. Mercury Liquors, there are elementary questions that can be answered by any legal professional, but not by a computer:

Where was the case decided?
Who were the participants and what roles did they play?
Was it a case of first instance or on appeal?
What was the basis of the appeal?
What were the legal issues at stake?
What were the facts?
What factors were relevant in making the decision?
What was the decision?
What legislation or case law was cited?

Legal information service providers such as LexisNexis index some of the information and provide it in headnotes, but many of the details, which may be crucial, can only be found by reading the case itself. Current text-mining technologies cannot answer the questions because the information is embedded in the complexities of the language of the case, which computers cannot yet fully parse and understand. Finally, there are relationships among the pieces of information which no current automated system can represent, such as the relationships among case factors or precedential relationships among cases.

In conclusion, the author remarks:

Legal ontologies are one of the central elements of managing and automating legal knowledge. With ontologies, the means are available to realize significant portions of the Semantic Web for legal professionals, particularly if an open-source, collaborative approach is taken.


About the author:

Dr. Adam Zachary Wyner is affiliated with the department of computer science at University College London, London, United Kingdom. He has a Ph.D. in linguistics from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in computer science from King’s College London. He has published on topics in the syntax and semantics of natural language, as well as artificial intelligence and law concerning legal systems, language, logic and argumentation. For further information, see Dr. Wyner’s blog LanguageLogicLawSoftware.

Source: – Daily Newswire

Case reversed for allowing Wikipedia entry as evidence

From the

Bergen judge reversed for allowing Wikipedia entry as evidence

By Jerry DeMarco

North Jersey Crime Examiner

A Bergen County judge mistakenly let a collection company lawyer cover a gap in evidence against a credit-card holder by using a Wikipedia page, a state appeals court has ruled.

. . .

“Such a malleable source of information is inherently unreliable and clearly not one whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned,” they added.

. . .

Wikipedian Justice

“Wikipedian Justice”

RAGHAV SHARMA, National Law University, Jodhpur

This short article highlights the increasing reliance by Indian courts on Wikipedia. The Supreme Court seems to have accepted Wikipedia as a reliable source of information. The article discusses how far such judicial reliance is warranted on Wikipedia.

Source: LSN Law & Courts Vol. 3 No. 21,  03/10/2009

Wikipedian meeting in Egypt

Great, lengthy article in today’s Wall Street Journal about Wikipedians’ largest-ever meeting just held in Alexandria, Egypt, at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina:

Wikipedians Leave Cyberspace, Meet in Egypt

In Alexandria, 650 Devotees Bemoan Vandals, Debate Rules; Deletionists vs. Inclusionists

By James Gleick

“James Gleick is the author, most recently, of ‘Isaac Newton.’ He is working on a history of information.”

From the WSJ article:

. . .

Even without vandals, even without trolls and sock-puppets and other notorious malefactors, anarchy can always break out. Because everyone in the world has the power to edit, Wikipedia has long been plagued by the so-called edit war. This is like a house where the husband wants it warm and the wife wants it cool and they sneak back and forth adjusting the thermostat at cross purposes. One Wikipedian says “potato,” another says “potahto,” and they reverse each other’s edits ad infinitum. There have been edit wars over gods and edit wars over commas. “Betwixt” or “between”? Is the Conch Republic (aka Key West) really a “micronation”? Is it “Daylight Saving Time” or “Daylight Savings Time”? You may know the answer for sure; rest assured, a significant faction of humanity knows you are wrong and can prove it. At the end of 2006, people concerned with the “Cat” article could not agree on whether a human with a cat is its “owner,” “caregiver” or “human companion.” Invective was hurled. Over a three-week period, the argument extended to the length of a small book.

Anyone looking at the ebb and flow of edit wars may wonder how equilibrium can ever be established. Yet invariably factions reach accommodation, and articles tend to be, if not perfectly consistent, amazingly accurate. This, too, is part of the maturing of Wikipedia. All editors are created equal, but they don’t stay equal. There are unmistakable signs of hierarchy (another dirty word). A longtime trusted user can become an “administrator,” with special powers: to protect articles, to delete articles, and, in cases of vandalism or other bad behavior, to block other users. In Alexandria, as newbies mingled with old-timers, complaints were heard: The community has gotten less friendly; its organization is more “top down.” And who administers the administrators? There are “stewards,” “sysops” and “arbitrators.”

“It changes the dynamic, and think I miss the old days,” Kat Walsh, aka Mindspillage, a law student and Wikimedia board member, tells an introspective session called “Welcome to the Wiki-Cabal.” There’s no glory in adminship — “It’s like going around behind people and picking up the trash.” Articles get rated now, too: A “good” article must have met the “good article criteria” and passed through the “good article nomination process,” always subject to “good article reassessment.” Predictably, the emergence of hierarchy has demanded a structure of policy and rules.

. . .