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FBI Picks a Fight with Wikipedia

FBI: Take Down Our Seal, Wikimedia Foundation: No.

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This week, the New York Times and BBC News both reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has sent the Wikimedia Foundatation a letter, ordering the removal of an image of the Bureau’s seal from its Wikipedia entry. The Wikimedia Foundation’s response thus far has basically  been, "no."

Should the seal be removed from Wikipedia? Share your thoughts.

The NYT provides copies of both the FBI’s letter, and the Wikimedia Foundation’s response. Pretty entertaining stuff. The FBI’s letter, signed by Deputy General Counsel David C. Larson, begins:

It has come to our attention that the FBI seal is posted, without authorization, on Wikipedia at the following site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US-FBIShadedSeal. svg . As the site itself notes, "Unauthorized use of the FBI seal . . . is subject to criminal prosecution under Federal criminal law, including 18 U.S.C. 701."

The FBI Seal is an official insignia of the Department of Justice. Its primary purpose is to authenticate the official communications and actions of the FBI. Unauthorized reproduction or use of the FB I Seal is prohibited by 18 United States Code, Section 701, which provides:

Whoever manufactures, sells, or possesses any insignia, of the design prescribed by the [Department head] or any colordble imitation thereof, or photographs, prints, or in any other manner makes or executes any engraving, photograph, print, or impression in the likeness of any such insignia, or any colorable imitation thereof, except as authorized under regulation made pursuant to law, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both…

See the whole letter here (pdf).

Wikipedia's FBI page

The Wikimedia Foundation’s letter, signed by General Counsel Mike Godwin, begins:

Dear Deputy Director Larson,

First, thank you for taking my call Thursday, and congratulations on your imminent retirement after so many years of service. It’s unfortunate that on such an otherwise happy occasion I must inform you that the Bureau’s reading of 18 U.S.C. 701 is both idiosyncratic (made especially so by your strategic redaction of important language) and, more importantly, incorrect.

I’m writing you, of course, regarding your recent letter reiterating the Bureau’s invocation of 18 U.S.C. 701 and your demand for removal of the image of the FBI Seal on Wikipedia (images of which are widely available elsewhere, including on the Encyclopedia Britannica website, last I checked). You may recall that in my initial email response to your estimable Assistant General Counsel, Mr. Binney, I pointed to cases construing Section 701 and that, in a subsequent email, I broadly hinted that ejusdem generis, a standard accepted canon of statutory construction, demonstrates that this statute is inapposite to the use of an image of the seal on an encyclopedia.

It’s clear that you and Mr. Binney took the hint, although perhaps not in the way I would have preferred. Entertainingly, in support for your argument, you included a version of 701 in which you removed the very phrases that subject the statute to ejusdem generis analysis. While we appreciate your desire to revise the statute to reflect your expansive vision of it, the fact is that we must work with the actual language of the statute, not the aspirational version of Section 701 that you forwarded to us…

See that whole letter here.

Clearly, the Wikimedia Foundation firmly believes that it is not in the wrong here, and is prepared to go to court with the FBI, if it comes to that, as Godwin notes in the letter.

It will be interesting to see if the FBI pursues this, as everyone else wonders why the FBI isn’t focused on more pressing matters. I can’t imagine what harm the FBI’s seal is doing on a non-profit community encyclopedia site aimed at spreading knowledge.

Which side do you agree with? The FBI’s or the Wikimedia Foundation’s? Let us know.

FBI Picks a Fight with Wikipedia
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  • Guest

    Maybe there is some sinister reason?
    Dunno, but maybe a higher up ordered Mr. Larson to order it taken down.

    It inspired me to look at it, because it implies that there is something they don’t want you to look at. Really it’s quite harmless with hardly any occult imagery (compared to our pyramid all-seeing eye-with-corners-pointing-to-MASON-letters-which-forms-a-pentagram-$1 bill notes). But there is the 13 stars around it. While sure the freemasons like the number 13, we also had 13 colonies so really there’s no need for them to go paranoid about it.

  • Guest

    The FBI has been a corporate flack for so many years that the organization has no idea how to perform its intended function. Spending one second of public money on a pointless crusade is evidence that the FBI needs a total reorganization, a complete purge of brain-dead lawyers and inactive “investigators.” I would doubt that the FBI would have a similar objection to the mob using their emblem. Their dedication to repressing free speech, liberal activists, and to promoting corporate crime everywhere possible has made all of those FBI television shows into dark comedies. No one believes they have the skill, education, or dedication to work as hard as their propaganda advertises.

    • RL

      Wow – You really DON’T GET IT – Do you?

      Why don’t you get out from the comfort of your liberal keyboard and join the FBI if you are so smart?

      You might try reading some factual information on how sophisticated criminals operate.

  • T.A. Chambers

    I support the FBI’s efforts to stop Wikileaks from releasing information
    which obviously was not meant for public disclosure.

    Abhorrent and regrettable as it may be to some short-sighted persons,
    it is obvious that certain Government activity cannot be divulged
    without discrimination. To do so would let all those who wish us harm
    know exactly what our techniques are, and how and when we plan to
    pursue them. It doesn’t take much imagination to imagine an enemy
    using this information to inflict severe damage upon the lives of our
    military and our missions.

    It is treachery of the gravest sort, and must be stopped.

    • Guest

      So ok, the FBI Seal isn’t meant for public disclosure??? Are you serious? Then what’s the seal for??? It’s there to IDENTIFY the FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION. Of course is public info. The FBI seal isn’t some “hush-hush” secret underground government plot. This is stupid man!

  • http://www.myCardStories.com Debbie

    Last I checked, the FBI home page had a miniscule seal image. I see no 2000 PIXEL high resolution version of their seal available on the site. So “just go to their site and they’ll give you the same thing” doesn’t fly.

    In contrast, Wikipedia presents various size versions, including a 2000px image, conveniently presented as a transparent PNG, so no effort required AT ALL to make it look good. What is the purpose of that? IMO, they’ve gone beyond presenting “information.”

    I agree it would be useful and prudent in this day and age for the FBI (and any other government entity or business) to create and provide “for public consumption” versions of various graphics. In this case, it would make sense to include something in the graphic to make it difficult to reproduce.

    I believe the FBI objects to the ease with which criminals can obtain a high quality FBI seal image to use for whatever mischievous or devious purposes they might think of. This effort on the FBI’s part is analogous to putting pre-emergent on your lawn – you’re trying to kill weeds before they become an issue. It’s easier to prevent and control after the fact.

    For that reason, Wiki should take down any high-resolution images. What is the possible use for them anyway?? If you’re using the “information” argument, they’re presenting redundant information. They should also take it down because it’s NOT THEIRS. The defense of “But they’re doing it, too!” doesn’t fly. Maybe all those others shouldn’t be doing it either, but that doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t take away the right of the copyright owner to get it taken down.

    • RL

      I could’t agree more with this post. If Wikipedia wants to show the FBI Seal so people will know who the FBI is, they should link back to the official FBI site, or use a low quality graphic with a watermark background that cannot be copied from their site.

      Why doesn’t Wikipedia and others understand that by providing high quality .png files of the FBI Seal that can be easily copied from their site, makes it very easy for forgers, terrorists, and other criminals to use the FBI Seal for criminal purposes.

      How would Wikipedia feel if a Terrorist used the FBI seal from their site to forge official looking FBI Credentials and letters “from the FBI” that was later used to gain access to a terrorist target and commit a terrorist act?

      Oh – I am sure they would take NO RESPONSIBILITY for making it easy on the criminals.

      Take the file down!

      • Guest

        The seal was placed on Wikipedia in the first place, right? Which means that someone had to have the seal as a high quality image to begin with. Do you think Wikipedia is the only site, entity or one out there with this seal in HQ format? If to make it more difficult for crooks to use the seal fraudulently is the main goal, then they need to scour the entire web, search everyone’s computer, flash drive, cd and dvd backups, etc. If terrorists, or anyone else for that matter, wants to reproduce the seal, they can do so very easily and without lifting the image from Wikipedia. I mean, c’mon… seriously think about it. For God’s Sake, you can take a pic of the seal from their headquarters in Quantico. There’s a 3,000px image on answers.com. I can Google the seal and come up with 1,000′s of ‘em, many of which are HQ png’s or svg’s.

        And besides, the one’s who would really use the seal for fraudulent reasons already have well established connections from within. Don’t fool yourself!

  • Fred

    I find it hard to belive that we actually pay these lawyers/fbi to search for anyone using OUR log. The reason I say OUR is, we the taxpayers pay for the support and function of all government services.

    The logo is on an encyclopedia for heavens sake. How many people even know what the FBI logo even looks like? Seems the encyclopedia is doing not only us but the FBI a great service – and there’s no charge!

    I don’t know. Just seems there are certain ‘victorian’ elements still in the FBI still stuck in the 50′s. Time to get some fresh thinking and a more 21st century attitude.

    Maybe if the FBI got with the CIA, they can figure out what to do about the new Chinese missle that could take out a carrier instead of spending time looking for copyright violations.

    Fred (age 64)
    Melbourne FL

  • http://dailypandora.com Amit

    Isn’t FBI supposed to catch all the terrorists? Why are they fighting with a foundation as noble as the Wikimedia foundation which has fostered learning across the world which the US Govt. cannot do with all the dysfunctional plans that cost the country trillions of dollars??

    Grow up, FBI!

  • Bob Butler

    Apparently the FBI is reacting to the current general low approval of the Federal Government, including all of its branches.

    By their acting against Wikipedia, especially when Wikipedia is in the right, they seem to reflect that which is endemic to the entire Liberal Establishment: i.e., those who simply aren’t qualified whatsoever, barely qualified persons, and those who are Ivy League educated but who have no real world work experience, nor sufficient common sense, and are all too often coupled with low morals.

    This Fall, I, for one, will be voting for those who are knowledgeable, experienced, Nationalistic and responsible Conservatives. Hopefully, these folks will rid us of those which aren’t well qualified, and who may be lacking in character.

  • http://www.thaitravelhostel.com/ pongsiri

    the FBI maintains a role in most federal criminal investigations.

  • http://www.karate-london.co.uk Rod Butler

    This is a great argument and I really enjoyed reading Wikipedia’s sturdy defence. Hopefully we can see the full version in court one day.

  • condorito

    NUTS. The FBI is showing its ineptitude and misplaced ego. When an organization cannot adequately deal with material issues they jump on the immaterial hoping they can finally show some success.
    Not allowing the reproduction of the seal is inane. That could be taken to mean that no person may PHOTOGRAPH federal or government seals or insignia at any government building or on any sign…i.e. the exact seal would become a government SECRET. Hah, then they could have a new section in the FBI that does nothing other than track down anyone who has a reproduction of any governmen seal. That would really result in skyrocketing prosecutions and convictions…finally a success the FBI could bathe in.
    Hm, if an FBI agent shows you his/her credentials, you could easily reject them as possibly false. After all, no one outside of government knows what the seal on the badge or the credential case looks like.

  • Guest

    They confiscated evidence from me involving theft and money laundering by a Indiana attorney and judge. Completely illegal and withour warrant.
    Boy those N.W. Indiana and Illinois coke dealers have some real power. Stronger than the U.S. government.
    Their action sometimes is far from legal and in fact support crime.

  • http://www.JesseFisherDomains.com Jesse Fisher

    If I were the FBI director I would have concern about Wikimedia displaying a high resolution version of their seal.

    It would be very easy for a terrorist (or just a plain criminal) to use it to forge FBI documents to gain unusual access to something, someone or somewhere from which they would otherwise be restricted.

  • Troy

    I keep seeing posts that the FBI should do their job? This is their job!! The FBI consist of many men and woman with very diverse specialties some actually run down bad guys some monitor the Internet and some work to insure that the FBI’s identity is not miss used among many others. So all this posting that the FBI are bullies and have nothing better to do is ridiculous!! Wikipedia your gonna get your ass handed to yourself for not taking down their seal. You have been legally informed. I actually hope you don’t take it down so all these morons will see what happens to idiots that think they can do and post what ever they want..

    Please FBI make an example out of these morons…

    • Guest

      I agree with you that the FBI consists of a large amount of devoted talented and educated people.
      However when a department within the agency modifies a document and then try’s to use it as a weapon………..The lack of integrity of the individuals involved is disturbing.
      In this sad little case the end does not justify the means. The seal is not being used to forge documents or decieve to defaud or any else that the department should be concerned about.

    • Guest

      I agree that there are some talented people in the FBI. But you’re missing the point. It’s about the FBI trying to bully others, which is what the FBI has been good at since the 50′s. They’re centering on Wikipedia, but what about others out there? And, as someone mentioned, one real disturbing thing is the FBI quoting out of context. Guess they “accidentally” left-out the other, more important parts of the code. And let’s also look at U.S. copyright laws: If used for educational purposes, copyrighted images and text can be used without expressed permission from the owner. I look Wikipedia as a reference website. Reference material is, by nature, educational.

      Sorry bud, but you’re wrong: According to the full interpretation of the law, and prior case law, Wikipedia is fully within their legal rights to display the image. Yeah, maybe people can print it and use it inappropriately. But in all honesty, isn’t this possible with just about anything, anywhere? Wikipedia can’t be responsible for what users do with it, nor can they be accused of facilitating the improper use of it by hosting and displaying the image. If this were true, Google, Yahoo and Bing wouldn’t exist… since you can “Google” links to download movies and other copyrighted material. Is Google guilty of facilitating improper use of those copyrighted movies? Of course not!

      So with that out of the way; What’s the real issue? The real issue is with a bloated agency, run by a corrupt government, wanting to throw its weight around and bully the little guys.

      And by the way: I guarantee you Wikimedia will not get their ass handed to them, as you say. The law is in print. Case law is in print. You can’t fight what’s in black and white.

      What’s next? The CIA’s official seal is there. Secret Service seal is there. So is the U.S. Marshall’s and Dept of Homeland Security. Let’s don’t forget about the IRS, FCC, Dept. of State, ATF, USPP and DEA… all of who’s seals are displayed on Wikipedia. These are all federal agencies. Are they gonna insist their seals be taken down too? How far does this go? Is it really that important? and frankly, who really cares (besides the crooks themselves?).

  • http://www.squidoo.com/fushigi-yuugi-kaiden Brandon Gordon Motz

    I am going to join Wikimedia on this and go create a few pages with the FBI seal. Then I am going to phone FBI and tell them where it can find them.

    If they try to remove them I will add 100 more.

    Nothing they can do about it as I am a Canadian citizen.

    Then again, isnt that what Mark Emery thought?

  • Demsd

    Just like the fat kid on the playground, the FBI is throwing its weight around again. The FBI has nothing better to do apparently. This is one government agency that has outlived its usefulness.

  • Guest

    Yep Im on your side Wiki.

  • Guest

    It obviously can do no harm to leave it there, it is, after all, informative.
    But the army of lawyers retained by the FBI have to find something to do to justify “Billable hours”!!!!

  • Bryan Walls

    Actually reading the FBI letter, the complaint is not that they used an image of the insignia on the FBI Wikipedia entry , but that they have high-quality printable versions at that make it dead simple to make a do-it-yourself warrant card with any word processor or layout program, an inkjet printer, and a cheap plastic laminate.

    Asking for a take-down to raise the bar just a bit seems reasonable to me. The image on the main page is just fine, and should be encouraged so folks know what the real insignia looks like. A print-quality version already supplied with a transparent background, though, is of much more use to people breaking the law than to legitimate users.

    I find it ironic that coverage of the issue has redacted the detail that the FBI was talking about the high-quality renditions, rather than every version — just like the FBI redacted the bits about “badge, identification card, or other”.

    That being said, the FBI letter does request a total takedown on the whole site, not just the high-quality image (though the high-quality image page is what the letter primarily references). They would have done better with a takedown request for just those images, instead of going the pompous and totalitarian route they took.

  • http://www.byteitnetworks.com Daymond W. Armstrong

    While I understand that the law is something that must be inforced, I find it hard to believe that the FBI doesn’t have more on its plate than to be concerned about Wikipedia having the seal on their site in the section that provides the definition and an explanation of what the FBI is and therefore shows the seal of the FBI which can be found easily in any Google search. Sorry FBI, but I believe you are going to far here and Wikipedia has the right to say no.

  • Guest

    … that the FBI acts like this. I am not at all amazed by their reaction and twisting of laws to fit their personal agenda. They’re like any other law enforcement or governmental agency: Crooked to the bone. I mean, let’s all be honest here: The United States has the most crooked and corrupt justice system in the world. The U.S. government is one giant Cosa Nostra, as made evident by the IRS in the past. Judges are crooked, agencies are crooked, politicians are crooked, departments are crooked… and it doesn’t stop there. The US judicial system is a farce, made evident again by the election of our current president.

    Wikimedia Foundation is correct in their interpretation of the law, and I did notice that the FBI quoted the code out of context (as if Wikimedia isn’t smart enough to read the law themselves). They believe their are Gods and everyone below them must bow-down. I say “Way to go Wikimedia”! Fight it out. If we continue to let the government do as they please and not be held accountable for their own injustices, then we will eventually have what Obama wants: A One-World Government, headed by the Islams of Saudi Arabia. What government pours millions into big banks, but offers little to no help in assisting an innocent hard worker, who was laid-off, save his FHA financed home from forclosure? And on top of that, America’s “mighty savior” of a president reduces unemployment compensation rates and length. Who’s fighting for who?

    Anyway, I say to hell with the FBI. Let them explain to a judge how another encyclopedia website can have their seal, but Wikipedia can’t (that is if the judge isn’t bought by the government)!

  • http://www.delishibusiness.com Arwen Taylor

    I would have to agree and say that Wikipedia is in the right here. It is a public resource that is not using the seal for anything other than educational purposes just like other encyclopedias. No one in their right mind would think that Wikipedia was an official FBI “Communication”. They have the seal of the president as well as other governments and governmental agencies around the world on there but I don’t see anyone raising a brew ha ha over it.

    I hope they don’t pursue this. I would rather see my tax dollars being spent on the pursuit and capture of real criminals.

  • Joel

    If the FBI wants to fight a futile (albeit, more worthwhile) battle they should be doing more to prevent Nigerian scammers both in and outside of the U.S. from sending e-mail in the name of the FBI telling me/others that they want to help expedite my BankofAmerica ATM card of some $16.5 million from some inheritance that they (the scammers pretending to be the FBI) claim to be in possession of. That right there is the illegal use of name and insignia. And this would be of FAR greater service to the American people, preventing scamming and loss of their money, not preventing their insignia from being shown on an information site.

  • Harsha mutucumarana

    Does the FBI assume that Wikipedia is getting ready to take up their role by displaying the logo? In fact FBI should pay Wikipedia for the additional publicity given to the logo. Isn’t it?

  • Guest

    Wikipedia is guilty of far worse than using the FBI seal on their website. They are a primary source of study and research for kids in grade school through college and they present a one-sided accounting of their own facts that misinforms and skews the truth. I challenged my readers to do their own research on these statements to verify the authenticity of what I am saying. Keep in mind that Wikipedia comes up at the top of most general search results on any number of topics. This means that they are often the first choice of research and information on thousands of subjects.

    Here is the problem; they present revisionist history and inaccurate biographies just for starters. When I read their biographies of President Bush and Senator Obama leading up to the Nov. ’08 general election, I could not believe the lengths they would go to in order to sway the readers’ opinion. One bio was a commercial for Sen. Obama, glancing over or not mentioning many crucial facts. The bio of George Bush amounted to character assassination detailing several purported controversies, most based on speculation and conjecture.

    It is instructive to look at any liberal cause or any conservative cause to find a strong contrast in the style of reporting the facts. Anything attached to conservatives is reported complete with controversies. Anything liberal will mention, in passing, about 10% or less of relevant ‘controversies.’ No need to take my word for it…….anyone willing to be objective will see the stark difference right away. It gets worse when you look up any number of public personalities.

    Try it with any famous Democrat Party politician and contrast the overall tone of the articles with any Republican or conservative. An honest person will notice the bias. Wikipedia is supposed to enforce a policy of a NPOV. (neutral point of view). Anyone taking the time to compare pages with an objective eye will come to the same conclusion; this is not objective information, presented honestly and fairly and worthy of the minds of millions of young students.

    Wikipedia needs to be called to task. I am bothered by this bias, found in thousands of pages of ‘go-to’ source information more than the FBI seal question. Regardless of your ideology or party affiliation, find out for yourself. Principled people will arrive at the same conclusion.

    • J B

      What a ludicrous rant. Wikipedia is written by anyone who takes the time to sit down and provide content based on scholarly research. There are clear rules in place that define the need for verifiability and neutral POV.

      Because anyone can edit the site, there is sometimes misinformation and vandalism, but generally speaking, on important topics this is quickly corrected. A number of studies have shown that the occurence of inaccuracies in Wikipedia is about on par with Britanicca.

      Your perception of Wikipedia is somewhat akin to a myopic person in an optometrist’s office complaining that someone has put a blurry eye-chart on the wall.

      As for the ACTUAL question regarding the FBI seal…

      The FBI are making a mistake here. The appearance of their seal is not a threat to national security or anything else. It’s not like it’s top secret, and in fact having it displayed prominently on the world’s most recognised information site is beneficial. Surely the FBI should want their seal to be recognised!

  • Bob

    Like them or not (as in my case), Wikipedia is right here. First off, journalistic license comes into play here, as well as the issue that the FBI is owned by me, you and my neighbor to the left of me (not the one on the right, he is not a citizen). The FBI seal is owned by the citizens it is not private. It is in the public domain and therefore cannot be expected to remain private.
    However, if Wikipedia, or any other person or entity tried to use for reasons of false representation, then of course, that would be unlawful and the FBI could at that point pursue it.

  • http://drkisling.com drkislingseyes

    The FBI probably is within their rights in requesting the removal of the seal. In years past a high quality digital image would have been hard to come by and would have been promoting reckless endangerment of US citizens by enabling forgery of the seal. Today, that is hardly the case with all of the images and photo editing software on the internet, so that point is relatively moot. The FBI does have an obligation to protect their agency from appearing to endorse anyone or anything outside the agency. Wikipedia has a neutral stance policy, which the FBI has the right to object as appearing to endorse. (I am not implying they have the right to object to Wikipedia’s content, only the appearance that they agree or endorse it). That being said, the FBI should be able to work something out that satisfies everyone and leaves the image up with a disclaimer. Banning the logo completely on Wikipedia won’t make it go away and could exponentially increase it’s presence on the web, while being perceived as big brother bad PR. It also sets a bad precedent that may make people think twice about what they print on the only thing we have resembling freedom of press. The FBI has enough overload of serious work that they do that this should be pretty low on the priority scale and worked out with a few phone calls and not a truckload of lawyers.

    • http://www.syndicat.com Niels Dettenbach

      …there are not in the right here.

      For first, for educational purposes it must be possible to publish a governmental sign or even other signs of governmental ressources – especially if the educational purpose is exclusive educational and as such viewable / to understand by users / readers. It must be clear that the sign did not sign any governmental action by his publication there.

      On the other hand there is no direct or implicite damage for the FBI by the publication. If some criminal or unallowed want’s to abuse the official sign of the FBI he would and could do this without Wikipedia too. He can take it from the public governmental publication ressources which must describe the sign to the citizens – which are obligatoric for all signs or seals with a special or important function by that countries law. Otherwise they can’t get any function by law.

      (sorry for my bad english – hope it could be understand here ;)

  • http://www.dettenbach.de Niels Dettenbach

    …what kind of peoples seems to work in such sensible position of our current societies.

    Since we have the conservatives back on government here in germany it seems our law and freedom is going backwards in fast steps in germany as before initially under your Bush’s “regime” of ultra-conservatives religious powers.

    Free education seems to be an “important enemy” of the agencies. May be they just swapped Wikipedia with Wikileaks in mind… ;)

    Even we have still much more important issues and problems here nearly each week comes a new idiotic and stupid “idea” from politicans which want to ‘save the country’ in any curious way.

    From installing a internet filter infrastructure which china and iran is running for censorship (aeh, yes, sorry – that’s only to fight child porn), watching search engine requests and keyords by any european user up to the idea to bring out a “facebook” law (and one for googles earth view project) – our internet experts are just wondering. Strongly hold on human rights and freedom laws seems to “dangerous” for more or less religious, moralistic and conservative guys..

    Didn’t they understand the internet as a modern medium or did them such things with full intent to destroy our rigths of freedom, the freedom to save our personal data as the freedom of education and scientific work?

    It seems the agencies are going a way which is more and more independent from the society and peoples into a more and more commercialized or lobbyistic direction which mainly serves a few peoples within their own and personal interests – even if they are incompatible with the interest of a free society and human rights

  • Guest

    the fbi guy got a nice response…. who the hell they think they are?

  • http://tinyurl.com/28crboc Guest-LuckyAndy13

    I hope you continue to spread Knowledge as this government is better at spreading “bull**** and lies”. You’re fighting an uphill battle though. At the rate the government’s historians are changing historical facts to indoctrinate the youth of America, Wikipedia will always have history wrong if you print the truth.

    If they decide to bring a lawsuit instead of tracking terrorists and murders, I’ll be the first to contribute to your defense fund! So much wasted time and money (our money I might add), but look at the publicity they are giving you! Maybe as a servant of the people, they should think before they rush into action or for that matter, even dictate letters. No wonder this country is in such a mess.

    And as I conclude, I ponder on this thought, “Is it true all the top level brass in the FBI go home after work and dress up in their favorite bras and panties to Honor the memory of the Late, Great, Corrupt Director of the FBI, Mr. J. Edgar (cross-dresser) Hoover. They all must be so proud!

  • J B

    The FBI are living in the dark ages of technology. They are a bunch of close-minded bureaucrats.

    Compare them to the CIA. The CIA have a fantastic site. Their World Factbook does have a slight skew, but overall is a great information resource, and they promote it broadly.

    The FBI need to recognise the fact that they are a brand, and their seal is a big part of that. They should be pleased that Wikipedia are promoting their band for them.

    Surely they WANT people to recognise the seal, and to understand what it stands for.

  • peterbb

    Wikipedia plays an important role in society in educating people about many different things. How will the people of the United States know what the FBI symbol looks like if they cannot find out what it looks like on a reasonably authoritative source? Although I would agree that an FBI website would be an even more authoritative source of what the FBI symbol looks like, it is not easy to find anything except a very low-resolution version of the FBI symbol on the FBI website. That makes it almost impossible for a member of the public to identify falsified FBI insignia, or even to be sure that they are being shown legitimate FBI insignia when an agent shows it to them.

    As a software professional, I can be sympathetic with the concern that putting a hi-resolution version of the FBI insignia on a website can aid people in falsifying badges, but it ignores the need of the general public to be able to know what a legitimate insignia looks like. Given the low resolution images used even by official FBI reports, the use of low-res images of the insignia makes it easier for people to actually falsify FBI appearing documents, since only a low-res insignia is needed.

    There are many ways to place a hi-res image on the internet that, when duplicated, can easily be traced to a download of the web-based image. Techniques in PhotoShop of eliminating the easily recognizable of these techniques are so well-known that even such an image can be cleaned up for the purposes of fooling the general public, but even such cleaned images would show signs, to forensic teams, of having been made from website downloads.

    Thus, we need to avoid foolish attempts at computer security that do more to reduce security than they do to enhance it. This is what we are seeing in this demand to Wikipedia. Wikipedia is actually helping the general public be able to recognize legitimate FBI insignia with much greater confidence than if they went to the FBI website to find out what this insignia looks like.

  • Guest

    This is a great argument and I really enjoyed reading Wikipedia’s sturdy defence. Hopefully we can see the full version in court one day.

  • Guest

    I don’t think Wikibedia have done anything wrong. It is basically an INFORMATION site, and as such is NOT USING the seal for anything unlawful.

    One wonders WHY the FBI wants its seal removed. Do they worry about its presence here, or perhaps imbarrased – or something else? Can we dare hope to find out why?

  • Neil Ingram

    I totally agree with Michael G. Hurston’s wonderful summarization. All I can say is…where is someone like Timothy McVeigh when you need them?

    • http://bodyrockin.wordpress.com/ James

      Though I realize your comment “where is someone like Timothy McVeigh when you need them?”

      You may have meant as a joke or funny or maybe not..your wishing for a criminal that was responsible for the death of how many innocent people, sorry I do not see the humor in that.

  • andrew

    no it should not be taken of the site, if thats the case why don’t we just have all the history books pulled out of the schools!!!!!!!

  • Pissed off people of the planet Earth

    Go away FEDS you ain’t that scary you ain’t that tough – Wiki got more clout that you!

  • http://www.neindiafunds.co.in N.E India Funds

    The Government should be ashamed of involving itself in such a trivial matter. There is no point in firing at a Non-profitable Community Encyclopedia for just publishing a logo of an agency that is in no way private or secret. By the way, even an amateur can log on to the FBI website and grab a copy of the logo if needed. What’s the point in hammering Wikipedia, who is not at all claiming any association to the agency whatsoever.
    I support the wikipedia community in all its efforts and request the FBI to investigate in Criminal & Terrorist activities rather than such matters wherein they keep losing public support and popularity.

  • T. Wiley

    It appears that the FBI is overstaffed and more employees should retire or be made redundant.

    To spend time and resources on the removal of a government seal from an encyclopedia website is ridiculous. Maybe a RICO suit would be just as effective and well received by the public?

    Oh wait, the public and the courts didn’t like the way the FBI abused and interpreted RICO either.

    Seriously, it’s actions like this that make me (and many other Americans) believe we need drastic cuts in funding for agencies like the FBI.

    Did Deputy Director Larson earn a pension for similar actions his entire career? If so, perhaps he should have that taken away in the same fashion the seal is trying to be taken from the Wikipedia website.

  • Guest

    While I can’t agree with their application of the law on the matter, I can see the FBI’s side on this. If the Wikipedia article bore a photograph of the FBI’s headquarters or the seal as it appears in public, that’s good enough for such an article. The problem with the file as is posted is that it’s an SVG! It can be *very* easily reproduced at full quality for fraudulent purposes, which is what they are suggesting in the portion of the statute they presented to Wiki. It seems that both sides should exercise some common sense here and come to a simple, quiet compromise. Can’t Wikipedia show that as much as it’s trying to act for public good by enriching knowledge, it can act just as well for us by cooperating with the government’s effort to protect us from fraud? Yes, I’m sure the file could be obtained elsewhere, but Wikipedia can surely make a show of good faith and not be party to such easy fraud.

  • Guest

    When will this internet thing of I can publish whatever I want about anything I want on a website in public view so anybody that wants can copy it or duplicate it, stop? The FBI is in its rights to ask you to remove this seal if they choose by their notification letter to you. Clearly if you had no permission to use it then why is it there? Is it really necessary that it is there. If someone wishes the learn more about the FBI then they can visit their site not yours. Case in point, if I post something on my website that is an image or works of another, and they notify me to take it down then I should and then obtain their permission to use the works.

    Your letter back to the FBI is ludicrous and they should now prosecute you for this flagrant misconception of the right to do whatever you want, by ignoring the warning. The only source that I know of that has exclusion and limited or no prosecution is where a customer of an Internet service provider posts material such as this and is notified about the violation and then turns around and notifies the client of such violation.

    In your case the FBI clearly has outlined that it will follow up with criminal prosecution if you don’t remove it. They have extreme resources at their fingertips, and my advice is for you remove the image if they instructed you to. They have fairly warned you under the subtitle, so why are you daring General Counsel of the FBI to go ahead and prosecute you under a federal statute? These are high powered attorneys that work for the FBI and know the law well, not FBI agents.

  • Guest

    Wikipedia is right and gave a great response. Seems the FBI, just like many other government branches, feel they can change the wordings of any documents they want so that they can strongarm, or attempt to strongarm innocent folks.
    Shouldn’t they be spending our taxes more wisely..say…catching real criminals? Sounds as if they might be trying out for the part of Homeland Security, huh?
    Neither are doing the job they’ve been hired and/or elected to do.

  • http://blog.garymoller.com/ Gary Moller

    These guys are basically bureaucratic bullies, part of the massive US driven assault on the liberties of the Free World.

    Minor as this “image” debate may appear, the demands of the FBI should be ignored.

  • Mark

    Thumbs up for Wikipedia.
    I enjoy watching someone stand up to a playground bully just trying to start trouble.
    Like said, they should be using their money, resources and time on more valuable projects like crime. The whole world would be better off without this kind of FBI immaturity.

  • Adsense Publisher

    I understand the value in having the image on the site, however it’s not up to Wikipedia to decide if it should stay. That’s the bottom line.

    You would appreciate it when somebody steals your stuff and puts it on a website that they comply with your request to take it down. Now Wikipedia is going to have to spend million to defend their actions, and the government is going to have to spend millions prosecuting Wikipedia.

    If you ask me both sides loose in the end. We as taxpayers are footing the bill. So by Wikipedia not complying with this request, they’re saying “Screw you taxpayers!”

    The FBI is just doing their job.
    A crime has been committed and they are prosecuting the prime suspect.

  • http://africatopforum.com africa

    Wikimedia judging by point they are trying to prove to FBI is bit convincing. FBI should focus on more issue facing the organization not where seal should be.

  • Guest

    But it seems as though a watermark reading “facsimile” would solve this. It appears that the FBI’s primary concern is that anybody wanting to spoof the logo could download it from Wiki in its official format by people who would misuse it. A watermark can be removed with Photoshop, but not without a trace if the person checking the image is proficient enough. Hence, a compromise.

  • http://wehner.org Charles Douglas Wehner

    As an outsider, not an American, I say the FBI are morally right. With the FBI badge seen all over the world in detail, terrorists could fake it. That must not happen.

    That said, it has to be pointed out that the FBI is CORRUPT. J Mary Hoover turned the clean “Untouchables” into the mess it is today. They play dirty (eg: murder of JFK).

    In turn, the Wikipedia has been taken over by gangsters. It is now the WICKEDpedia. Control of the Press includes control of the Britannica and of the Wickedpedia.

    Mike Godwin sounds OK.

    Is he aware of the behind-the scenes machinations? I certainly admire his style (“actual language of the statute, not the aspirational version”). However, the Gang always rides roughshod over truth, so he can hardly expect an honest FBI.

    Charles Douglas Wehner

  • A Scott

    Good for Wikipedia. Furthermore, fullest marks to all comment sayers who have supported Wikipedia on this forum. You have in America a filthness that has to be removed and it is that which is polluting all moral values and integrity, namely “political correctness”. It is worldwide and its deathing is coming. Here in the UK and that rancid collection of scum criminal vermin at the European Parliament it is rife. In the UK the police do that which they are doing in the USA; behaving as criminals where they waste time and money persecuting innocent people and taking such non-events to the courts. They defend the criminals like foreign trash sex slavery gangs, people smugglers, drug racketeers, foreign cannabis houses and other filth and persecute the indigenous peoples as well as killing innocent Brazilians etc. I wouldn’t leave most so-called Chief Constables holding their willies in a brothel since they would probably think it was for stirring their coffee!!!!

    This mentality in the FBI is adequately described in the following:-

    No self-respecting lascivious lecherous licentuous lesbian dinosaur would strap them on as a dildo to roger another one.

    No scabby scumbag scurrillous sex-obsessed sly sleazy slinky slithering slimeball sloth would insult itself by giving them fellatio.

    The image can be made such that it can not be copied on the basis of “Save picture as”.
    The webpage can be such that the source code cannot be seen.

    This is just the evilness and corruption of politicians.

    A Scott.

  • http://rickmasseyblog.com Rick Massey

    This is just another in a string of daily reminders that our government views us as ignorant peasants that cannot function without constant supervision. What could the FBI possibly believe it is protecting here? If we view the FBI as a corporation, this makes sense for them. We expect corporations to preserve the value of their branding and to jealously guard their trademarks. But if the FBI were actually an agency established to serve the people, this would be a non-issue.

    It seems clear to me that the story we are supposed to believe about how our government works is no longer true – if it ever was. The leadership of governmental agencies are handpicked and receive their marching orders from “elected” officials. But who elected them? Was it you and I? Or was it the corporate conglomerates that control everything else. One thing seems certain: they don’t much care what we think. Whatever or whomever these guys are serving, it sure isn’t us.

  • Guest

    When I googled “FBI Seal” for images only, the search yielded 363,000 results. Is the FBI going to take them all to court?