On the front page of today’s Star Ledger, above the fold, even, is an article about Jersey’s own Barbara Bauer, an alleged literary agent who is allegedly suing several alleged websites, including, allegedly, Wikipedia for libel. Wikipedia, joined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have filed a motion to have Bauer’s suit dismissed, and they begin arguments tomorrow.
Wikipedia’s lawyers argued in court papers that the site is protected by a section of the federal Communications Decency Act that says the owners of interactive websites cannot be held liable for comments posted by their users.
Wikimedia Foundation general counsel Mike Godwin said if lawsuits like Bauer’s are successful, they could significantly harm the popular encyclopedia site.
I’m very curious about how this suit will turn out, because it certainly could have an effect on how blogs do what they do, particularly those that are somewhat critical. Barbara Bauer is no stranger to internet criticism, as several sites have hosted warnings about her alleged professionalism for a long ass time: SFWA Writers Beware has listed her as one of the 20 worst agents, based in part on her reputation for charging clients for reading and representation. An Absolute Write forum also contains alleged experiences from aspiring writers who have contacted Bauer’s agency.
If the motion to dismiss is rejected, presumably both parties move into the discovery portion, which could be very revealing.