FBI vs WIKIPEDIA

On Tuesday, the FBI’s deputy general counsel actually sent a letter to Wikipedia [pdf] late last month demanding that the encyclopedia Wikipedia take down a high-resolution rendering of the seal “because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting violations” of federal restrictions on the use of the image.

The Wikipedia’s lawyer said, “While we appreciate your desire to revise the statute to reflect your expansive vision of it,” the site’s lawyers wrote, “the fact is that we must work with the actual language of the statute, not the aspirational version … that you forwarded to us.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.”

If the FBI is concerned about the proliferation of digital reproductions of its seal online — which, as a simple Google image search will confirm, is indeed rampant — they might want to stop posting high-resolution images of it all over their website. And if they’re concerned about counterfeit badges, they should also stop posting close-up photos for fakers to crib from.