INTERNET LAW - Wikipedia: The Free Online Encyclopedia and its Use as Court Source

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 Martha L. Arias, IBLS Director.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Wikipedia.org is a free online encyclopedia to which users, I mean average folks, resort every day in this technology era.  It is easy, convenient, and fast!  But, has Wikipedia reached enough credibility to be used in court proceedings around the world?   Well, it seems it has.  Wikipedia is being used by the European Court of Human Rights, World Intellectual Property Office- WIPO, the Swiss Federal Council,   High Court of England and Wales, United States (U.S.) Federal Courts, just to name a few.

 Wikipedia has been used as court source since 2003 and its court use increases every year.  For instance, Wikipedia was used in 2006 in high profile U.S. Federal cases like SCO v. IBM; Apple v. DOES; in the England case of Kay v. the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis; in the Ĺ˝danoka v. Latvia case before the European Court of Human Rights; and in Media General Communications, Inc. v. Rarenames, WebReg case decided by the WIPO Administrative Panel, among others.

 The free online encyclopedia is used to search for both simple and high tech terms.  This business model was created in 2001 and its content is written by people from different countries and is offered in more than 10 languages.  Some critics of the use of Wikipedia as court source say the ability to change and edit content in this site makes it unreliable and dangerous for court use.  Yet, despite criticisms users, including court and law clerks, have an efficient and pretty reliable source in Wikipedia. 




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