Tuesday, September 11, 2012
"Wikitravel" caught in struggle between "wiki volunteerism" and capitalist branding
The “Link by Link” column by Noam Cohen (sorry, that’s not Noam Chomsky) has a curious story on Sept. 10 in the New York Times, p. B3, about the legal and cultural conflicts between Internet publishing for profit, and Internet publishing for speech or just public service.
The story is titled “A travel site built on Eiki ethos now bedevils its owner”, link here.
The site is Wikitravel (link).
The “capitalist” owner is Internet Brands, a discussion of which will probably wind up on my Trademark Diluition blog later, link here.
One problem for Internet Brands is that the Wikimedia Foundation (which operates Wikipedia) can use articles from Wikitravel to create its own free guide, since the content was licensed under Creative Commons. So Internet Brands is trying to claim what amount to violations of non-compete agreements (tacit) and maybe trademark (and that sounds like a stretch – will look at again), after many of its staffers and freelancers moved to the Wiki operation. Internet Brands has been reported as going after the individual volunteers (to intimidate them personally) as well as Wikimedia.
Wikimedia’s blog post on the possible litigation is here.
Look at the responses and stay tuned.