The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the top law enforcement agency in the United States, charged with going after the largest interstate crimes, federal cases and well-known for its infamous “Ten Most Wanted List”. Sadly, this week, it is also known as a group of Internet bullies.
According to The New York Times, the FBI wrote a letter (PDF link) to the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit group that oversees Wikipedia, threatening them with legal action if they did not remove the official FBI Seal from its page about the agency. “Failure to comply may result in further legal action. We appreciate your timely attention to this matter.”
Michael Godwin, the general counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation, wrote back to the FBI (PDF link) in a letter that is filled with legal jargon well beyond me, but in short he is telling the agency that the law they are citing does not apply to an encyclopedia’s use of the seal. The issue is that the law mentioned basically applies to someone walking up to someone else with a fake FBI badge and impersonating an agent.
Apparently the rules are that no one may use the seal without the consent of the director of the FBI, which is fine in some instances, but this is an educational resource, so one has to believe that “Fair Use” would kick in.
The other issue is that the FBI states in its letter, “The inclusion of a high quality graphic of the FBI seal on Wikipedia is particularly probleMatic, because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting violations of these restrictions by Wikipedia users.” I took a look at the graphic, and it is available in PNG formats from 200 pixels up to 2000 pixels. Heading over to the Encyclopedia Britannica site — which may have permission to use the seal, we don’t know — it has a copy of the seal with is a JPG measuring 1595×1600 (the image to the right is a scaled down version of their copy) Permission or not, that is still an extremely large, high quality version of the logo that anyone can grab a copy of.
Try doing a Google image search for “FBI Seal”, the Internet is lousy with them.
In short, this dust up makes no sense. Wikimedia hasn’t done anything that hundreds of other sites haven’t already done. Why it is being singled out seems ridiculous, and a waste of the agencies resources. Never mind the bad PR for them. I think it would be in its best interest to slink away quietly into the night on this matter.
Cindy Cohn, the legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, summed up pretty much everyone’s feelings on the matter when she told the Times, “Really, I have to believe the F.B.I. has better things to do than this.”
What say you? Silly, or a legitimate grievance from the FBI?
The Galaxy S20 Ultra's Space Zoom camera is amazing and a bit creepy
The Galaxy S20 Ultra supports up to 100X zoom, which Samsung calls Space Zoom, but is it any good? Can a phone really product usable photos at 100x zoom? We've got our Galaxy S20 Ultra already so join us to find out!
Win an iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch with the Reader's Choice giveaway!
What's the best phone of 2019? Is it the iPhone 11 Pro, Pixel 4 or OnePlus 7T? What about the best laptop, games console, tablet and more? Vote NOW in the Reader's Choice awards and win BIG in time for the holidays!
Here are the best products from IFA 2019!
Here are the products announced at IFA 2019 that were worthy of our Best of IFA 2019 awards. Also featuring MrMobile's single best product at the show!
Get your doodle on with a high-tech drawing tablet
Aching to incorporate freehand lines into your digital creations? Sounds like you need a drawing tablet! We've put together the best models for your perusing pleasure.