A court decision issued last week fined French company Hi-Media €25,000 (US$36,000) for damages and interest after it was proven that the company removed the mention of competitor Rentabiliweb from a list of vendors in the French Wikipedia’s article on micropayment.
Although the edit was done anonymously, the IP address used to make the revision was traced back to a device belonging to Hi-Media.
Hi-Media defended itself with the argument that Rentabiliweb used illegal means to determine the author of this amendment, claiming “the law does not preclude the search for the IP to the extent that this knowledge does not provide access to the person who uses the computer in question.”
The Paris court rejected this objection and made a decision that since the computer had been installed on Hi-Media’s premises, “Rentabiliweb offered sufficient proof that it was a person acting under the authorization of Hi-Media which was the author of the deletion.”
Rentabiliweb initially claimed €150,000 in damages, but the court reduced the sum to €25,000, as the amount wasn’t justified and because “Wikipedia does not appear to be a site where an Internet user will habitually search for suppliers of services.”
Funny thing though — because Rentabiliweb itself was found guilty of two other actions with Hi-Media that are unrelated to Wikipedia, the entire case still resulted in the French micropayment company still having to compensate Hi-Media for a sum of €75,000.