High school sues after Wikipedia users make 'mean-spirited' comments

NEBRASKA — Aprivate high school in Omaha has filed a lawsuit to obtain the names of someanonymous users of the encyclopedia Web siteWikipedia.org that made “mean-spirited” remarks about the school on the site, the school’s lawyer says.

Skutt Catholic High School filed the lawsuit last month againstanonymous users John and Jane Doe. Patrick Flood, attorney for the high school,said this is just a tactical move to obtain the identities of the users becauseafter a lawsuit was filed, the school was able to subpoena Cox Communications,the Internet service provider of the users. The lawsuit does not name Wikipedia,a free Web site that allows members to create and edit encyclopediaentries.

Flood declined to comment specifically about the nature ofthe postings, but The Associated Press quoted the following remark from the Website: “It’s (sic) tuition is ridiculously high, too. Not to mentionyou get an awful education there. They put more emphasis on sports than they doeducation. No wonder almost all kids there are completeidiots.”

The Associated Pressreported that the schoolobjected to four postings made since February that included vulgar language,allusions to student drug use and criticism of the school’s principal.

All of the comments have since been removed from the Website.

Flood said the school does not see this as a free speechissue.

“To us this is not about the First Amendment,”Flood said. “It’s really about finding out who may have posted somevandalous edits on Wikipedia.com, and if they’re affiliated with the highschool, to try to take some appropriate action withthem.”

David Grabert, a spokesman for Cox Communications, saidthe company will comply with the subpoena, “unless there are furtherdevelopments in the case, which quashes that order.”

“Wehave an obligation to comply with lawful subpoenas,” Grabert said in ane-mail. “However, we otherwise go to great lengths to protect ourcustomers’ privacy. We never share customer information without receipt ofa lawful subpoena and our security measures are top notch.”