FBI Wikipedia: FBI Tells Wikipedia To Remove FBI Seal
Wikipedia Use Of FBI Seal On Website Violates Law FBI Says
The FBI is demanding that the collaborative encyclopedia and information site Wikipedia stop using the FBI seal on its entry about the FBI.
Apparently, the FBI seal can only be used with the expressed consent of the FBI and usually the FBI does not provide consent for outside organizations to use the FBI seal.
In a July letter to the Wikipedia Foundation the FBI demanded the seal be dropped from an accompanying article about the FBI otherwise legal action may be taken against Wikipedia.
An F.B.I. spokesman, William Carter, said that such letters go out “from time to time” from the office of general counsel.
“You can’t use the F.B.I. seal, by law, unless you have the permission of the F.B.I. director,” he said.
Apparently, the FBI is concerned that the seal maybe copied and unlawfully used. (ie. a fake FBI badge).
But Wikipedia is fighting back. Representatives of Wikipedia point out that numerous other websites including Encyclopedia Britannica use the FBI seal and that it often appears accompanying news articles (like this one).
Badges and identification cards are physical manifestations that may be used by a possessor to invoke the authority of the federal government. An encyclopedia article is not," Wikipedia's letter says. "The use of the image on Wikipedia is not for the purpose of deception or falsely to represent anyone as an agent of the federal government."
The Wikipedia letter also adds:
"Even if it could be proved that someone, somewhere, found a way to use a Wikipedia article illustration to facilitate a fraudulent representation, that would not render the illustration itself unlawful under the statute."
The FBI vs Wikipedia fight over the use of the FBI seal could be a tough a won for the FBI to win, especially since Wikipedia is an enormously popular information platform. It has already posted an entry about the FBI seal issue on its article about the FBI seal - and always in an language that is both neutral and balanced.
In August 2010, the Wikimedia Foundation received a demand from the FBI to remove the image of the seal from Wikipedia. In response, Wikimedia Foundation counsel Mike Godwin declined to remove the image and stated that the law cited by the FBI was being misconstrued, as it was intended to prevent people using fake FBI badges or profiting from the use of the seal rather than to prevent non-commercial websites from displaying the seal.