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FBI Instructs Wikipedia To Drop FBI Seal

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the teach-the-seal-tricks dept.

Government 485

eldavojohn writes "The FBI got in contact with Wikipedia's San Francisco office to inform them they were violating the law in regards to 'unauthorized production' of this seal. The FBI quoted the law as saying, 'Whoever possesses any insignia... or any colorable imitation thereof... shall be fined... or imprisoned... or both.' Wikipedia refused to take the image down and stated that the FBI was misquoting the law. The FBI claims that this production of this image is 'particularly problematic, because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting violations of restrictions by Wikipedia users.' Wikipedia's lawyer, Mike Godwin (please omit certain jokes), contacted the FBI and asserted, 'We are compelled as a matter of law and principle to deny your demand for removal of the FBI Seal from Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons,' adding that the firm was 'prepared to argue our view in court.' Wikipedia appears to be holding their ground; we shall see if the FBI comes to their senses or proceeds with litigation."

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485 comments

I guess... (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123630)

that does it for all the movies and TV shows that display the FBI seal.

Maybe they've been infiltrated by agents of the RIAA...

Re:I guess... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123722)

Clearly you're not geeky enough to notice that all tv shows like X-Files, CSI and the like use 'lookalike' seals... or don't show seals at all.
.

Re:I guess... (4, Insightful)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123834)

Maybe our feathered friend meant the seal shown with the written threats at the start of DVDs ?

Re:I guess... (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123892)

I think he was attacking the FBI copyright warning at the start of movies. Although I suspect that it is at the consent of the FBI. I wonder what started the FBI to go after Wikipedia though?

Re:I guess... (5, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123978)

I think he was attacking the FBI copyright warning at the start of movies. Although I suspect that it is at the consent of the FBI. I wonder what started the FBI to go after Wikipedia though?

I don't know, but the solution is simple enough. If Congress represented us, they'd say: "Oh, I see what you're saying. You can afford to worry about this because you don't have enough real criminals to catch. Gotcha. This is good news! It means we will cut your budget by 1/3 and after one year we'll re-evaluate how this affects your choice of priorities. Who said federal bureaus can't learn to be more efficient?"

I think doing that one time would be enough to end this kind of BS.

Re:I guess... (5, Funny)

VShael (62735) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124232)

If Congress represented us,

Oh, since we're in Imaginationland, can I have a pony?

Re:I guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123998)

I would guess it's the fact that Wikipedia has the seal at extremely high resolution on a transparent background, basically begging people to use it inappropriately. Not really sure where I stand on this one, on one hand I think Wikipedia has a right to include the image, on the other hand I see no possible legal need for a 2000px FBI seal on a transparent background.

Re:I guess... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124118)

But since they are not breaking the law... wait, what the fuck is the issue here? I have a knife... watch out, I *could* break the law!

Re:I guess... (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124204)

this has nothing to do with what's going on at all. FBI has no legal standing on this anyway, so unless wikipedia backs down for whatever illogical reason, this would end up being a whole lot of nothing.

Re:I guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124358)

... I see no possible legal need for a 2000px FBI seal on a transparent background.

Is a SVG file

Re:I guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123760)

As far as I know there has never been a show that had the actual FBI symbol.

I remember the Veronica Mars season 4 (I think) preview had all the FBI symbols blurred out for some reason.

FBI ANTI-PIRACY WARNING (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123844)

As far as I know there has never been a show that had the actual FBI symbol.

The members of the MPAA have a license to use the FBI seal [fbi.gov] in the unskippable intros of their DVDs.

Re:FBI ANTI-PIRACY WARNING (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124190)

Duh, but we're talking about using the symbol in the movie or show, not the warning intro.

Re:I guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123872)

Videogames and video tapes used to prominently display a do-not-copy "FBI warning" that routinely showed the FBI seal.

Re:I guess... (3, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123948)

Wouldn't this seal be owned and payed for by the tax payers of the U.S.?

Re:I guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124294)

Yes but don't forget the UK is the "Junior partner" so they have the right to use it too in a small way.

Re:I guess... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124234)

For video games, it was only arcade games that showed the FBI seal, and it was for the Winners Don't Use Drugs [wikipedia.org] slogan.

Re:I guess... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124086)

As far as I know there has never been a show that had the actual FBI symbol.

"The FBI, in color. A Quinn-Martin Production"

Re:I guess... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123784)

How can one know what an FBI seal looks like if he has NEVER seen one?

Re:I guess... (3, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124006)

How can one know what an FBI seal looks like if he has NEVER seen one?

I can see it now:

An FBI agent knocks on some guy's door. The guy asks to see some ID, and the FBI agent produces his official FBI badge. The guy takes one look at it and says, "You can't fool me, that's a fake...it looks nothing like the ones on the X-Files!"

Re:I guess... (5, Insightful)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124304)

> An FBI agent knocks on some guy's door. The guy asks to see some ID, and the FBI agent produces his official FBI badge. The guy takes one look at it and says,
> "You can't fool me, that's a fake...it looks nothing like the ones on the X-Files!"

That's actually an interesting point. How does one deal with authentication issues like that if faced with an Law-Enforcement officer? Sure they can...if they do things right, show you their badge but then what?

1. Do you have a right to actually take that badge and/or ID into your hands to inspect it fully?

2. Can you write the details down or make a scan/photo copy?

3. If you do not believe the ID, the seal or badge (and officer) to be authentically what/who they claim to be, do you still have to do what they say (and can you be charged with, for example, resisting arrest if so)?

4. If 3 is the case, what are the options to verify such ID's, seals etc.?

Re:I guess... (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123806)

Maybe we are not recognizing a friendly action because aggression is the vehicle.

Does the FBI have any rational reason to fight this battle?

Would the wiki folk be standing firm if their legal counsel thought they were going to get massacred?

Against the backdrop of recent reductions in fines for copyright violators, fallout from secretive international IP enforcement negotiations, and the flood of questionable DMCA related actions this may be as close as our community gets to a helping hand from Uncle Sam.

Re:I guess... (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124102)

Maybe they don't want all the kids using it for desktop/laptop/cellphone wallpaper?

That trojan Android wallpaper app could have been even more popular I guess...

Let it roll (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123642)

Streisand in 3... 2...

Guess I'm a criminal now... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123654)

since my browser cached the image.

Re:Guess I'm a criminal now... (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123818)

The FBI claims that this production of this image is 'particularly problematic, because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting violations of restrictions by Wikipedia users.'

Unless they're referring to FBI Halloween costumes, I must sadly agree that caching has to be what they're referring to here...

I'll omit NOTHING, eldavojohn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123658)

Mike then referred to the FBI as a bunch of Nazis, and himself'd the argument.

Yes, THAT Godwin (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123664)

Wikipedia's lawyer Mike Godwin (please omit certain jokes)

Yes, before anybody asks, it is indeed THAT Godwin, for whom the law is named.

Re:Yes, THAT Godwin (5, Funny)

Itninja (937614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123756)

You know, the Nazis had lawyers too. Not saying Wikipedia supports Nazism, but why is no one asking these questions?

Re:Yes, THAT Godwin (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123854)

Because they're too busy using white-out on their eyes to prevent getting raided by the FBI.

Obama's national social programs (0, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123894)

President Obama and his Democratic House of Representatives have been implementing socialist initiatives at the national level, unlike the Libertarians and the Tea Party movement that want to see these initiatives run at the state level if at all. But national socialism still doesn't make him a National Socialist.

Re:Yes, THAT Godwin (0, Offtopic)

VShael (62735) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124274)

but why is no one asking these questions?

Glenn Beck is asking these questions!

Government has bad lawyers? (5, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123684)

Well you know what they say, the grade C lawyers work for the government while the grade A lawyers work for everyone else. As someone remarked about on another site, you almost had to wonder why the FBI picked this little fights, and if someone mistakenly thought Wikipedia was somehow related to the now infamous Wikileaks. Even just reading the FBI's correspondence you can tell they're seriously out of their depth.

Re:Government has bad lawyers? (5, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123750)

Also, this story probably shouldn't be tagged copyright. Assuming the seal was designed by the FBI itself, it's ineligible for copyright as a work of the federal government. (I guess in theory they could have purchased the design and copyright from a third party, but that seems unlikely). If there's a real law at stake, it's not copyright law, probably something to do with impersonating an official, etc.

Next up, the FBI will be suing Lostpedia for its relationship to Wikileaks (using wiki software) and its name that sounds suspiciously similar to "pedophilia."

Re:Government has bad lawyers? (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124230)

I would not use such a word other than as AC. Who knows they may misinterpret what you wanted to say and put you in jail together with all others......

Re:Government has bad lawyers? (5, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123828)

So just hotlink to their site [fbi.gov] and tell them to go f***^Warrest themselves.

Or, better yet, photoshop to these [fbi.gov] - and caption them as you wish. It expressly states

High Resolution Photographs
These materials are for your use in publicizing the FBI. No permissions are needed; please just credit the FBI. Click on the links below to download the high resolution images.

Or just hotlink to them, along with your choice framed captions :-)

Re:Government has bad lawyers? (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124228)

Well you know what they say, the grade C lawyers work for the government while the grade A lawyers work for everyone else. As someone remarked about on another site, you almost had to wonder why the FBI picked this little fights, and if someone mistakenly thought Wikipedia was somehow related to the now infamous Wikileaks. Even just reading the FBI's correspondence you can tell they're seriously out of their depth.

A grade lawyers often start with government work before they move on. The problem is not getting them; it's keeping them once they gain enough experience to command serious money in the private sector. that is not unique to lawyers; others start with the government and then move on to greener pastures.

Re:Government has bad lawyers? (3, Informative)

Fantom42 (174630) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124318)

Well you know what they say, the grade C lawyers work for the government while the grade A lawyers work for everyone else. As someone remarked about on another site, you almost had to wonder why the FBI picked this little fights, and if someone mistakenly thought Wikipedia was somehow related to the now infamous Wikileaks. Even just reading the FBI's correspondence you can tell they're seriously out of their depth.

I'm just curious if you read the law. Because it sure reads to me like Wikipedia is in violation of the letter of the law.

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 33 > § 701
§ 701. Official badges, identification cards, other insignia
Whoever manufactures, sells, or possesses any badge, identification card, or other insignia, of the design prescribed by the head of any department or agency of the United States for use by any officer or employee thereof, or any colorable imitation thereof, or photographs, prints, or in any other manner makes or executes any engraving, photograph, print, or impression in the likeness of any such badge, identification card, or other insignia, or any colorable imitation thereof, except as authorized under regulations made pursuant to law, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

The fact is that Wikipedia has a super high resolution print quality and SVG image of the seal which could be used to manufacture fake credentials. This fact might explain why they are going after Wikipedia and not other places. In fact the FBI letters suggests this much.

I guess its easy to just unsubstantiatedly bash our government. At least you didn't start invoking conspiracy theories about this being some first step in the invokation of some quasi martial law state, like some other people have commented.

So, why are they doing this? (1)

Tiger Smile (78220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123708)

Their seal is in other media. As a matter of reporting and reporting on the seal itself. It's in encyclopedias. WTF?

Clear this is one more government employee trying to justify his job. We're supporting far too many otherwise jobless people in the government. You hardly need more proof.

Full quality reproductions (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123790)

As a designer, I can save and open up the svg file from wikipedia and print it at whatever resolution I want. If I was a forger, I could make fake FBI ID, passport, etc etc. Of course, even if that seal wasn't there, it wouldn't take me more than a day to re-create the seal from movies, arcade games, etc etc - just need a reference image. Wikipedia just cuts down the job for me. For example, I get corporate logo from wiki all the time to make brochures (client testaments). Sure beats recreating or contacting the respective marketing dept.

Re:Full quality reproductions (2, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124034)

This gets back into the argument on whether or not the criminal is the person handing you a gun or the person using it...

Just like anything Wikipedia is a tool. It doesn't make committing crime unavoidable. If you use it in a manner that is dubious in nature, you are breaking the law, not the person that gave you the seal image.

Re:So, why are they doing this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123838)

Clear this is one more government employee trying to justify his job. We're supporting far too many otherwise jobless people in the government. You hardly need more proof.

Funny that you provide no proof that alleged initiating employee doesn't have an otherwise perfectly filled workload.

Why prove when you can assume?

Ummm what? (5, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123728)

"Whoever possesses any insignia... or any colorable imitation thereof... shall be fined... or imprisoned... or both"

Okay so I had to go and look this one up. Because there are so many ...'s that pretty much all of the information is missing. That sentence fracture they chose doesn't even mention any government insignia's, at first I thought ALL insignia's were outlawed.

Anyways, so here's the full deal.

Whoever manufactures, sells, or possesses any badge, identification card, or other insignia, of the design prescribed by the head of any department or agency of the United States for use by any officer or employee thereof, or any colorable imitation thereof, or photographs, prints, or in any other manner makes or executes any engraving, photograph, print, or impression in the likeness of any such badge, identification card, or other insignia, or any colorable imitation thereof, except as authorized under regulations made pursuant to law, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

Sounds like the law is basically there to stop people from posing as federal agents. Having the Seal on the website might make it easier for people to design replicas (and where better to find information than Wikipedia) but on the other hand, how would I know what an authentic FBI badge looks like if I've never seen it before, so how would I know if I'm dealing with an imposter or not?

Re:Ummm what? (5, Funny)

talz13 (884474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123912)

"Whoever possesses any insignia... or any colorable imitation thereof... shall be fined... or imprisoned... or both"

Okay so I had to go and look this one up. Because there are so many ...'s that pretty much all of the information is missing. That sentence fracture they chose doesn't even mention any government insignia's, at first I thought ALL insignia's were outlawed.

Anyways, so here's the full deal.

Don't you know that the FBI has William Shatner as their lawyer? Those weren't omissions, they were just accurately quoting his speech!

Re:Ummm what? (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124354)

> > "Whoever possesses any insignia... or any colorable imitation thereof... shall be fined... or imprisoned... or both"

> Don't you know that the FBI has William Shatner as their lawyer?

"Ream me up, Scotty!" :-/

Re:Ummm what? (5, Funny)

batquux (323697) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123914)

Wow, it's even worse than the original.. it should say:

"Whoever ... possesses any ... insignia ... or any colorable imitation thereof ... shall be fined ... or imprisoned ... or both."

This is fun, you could say:

"... the head of any department or agency of the United States ... shall be ... imprisoned ... "

Re:Ummm what? (1)

ArbitraryDescriptor (1257752) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123918)

"Whoever possesses any insignia... or any colorable imitation thereof... shall be fined... or imprisoned... or both"

Okay so I had to go and look this one up. Because there are so many ...'s that pretty much all of the information is missing.

And they apparently missed a few ellipses. I guess they thought:

"Whoever ... possesses any ... insignia ... or any colorable imitation thereof ... shall be fined ... or imprisoned ... or both"

Looked too amateur.

Re:Ummm what? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124032)

Sounds like the law is basically there to stop people from posing as federal agents.

Well, someone had better call David Duchovony and Jillian Anderson. They have even had the gall to do this on TV!

. . . and don't get me started about Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. That name is a dead giveaway that there is something illegal going on.

Re:Ummm what? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124098)

Sounds like the law is basically there to stop people from posing as federal agents.

While that's undoubtedly the intent, the text doesn't say that at all. It's as if you (and the mods) either didn't bother to read what you quoted, or else got lost in the commas.

Re:Ummm what? (2, Interesting)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124104)

Sounds like the law is basically there to stop people from posing as federal agents. Having the Seal on the website might make it easier for people to design replicas

That's obviously the original point of that law. Point is it's outdated and it's not much use today. If they really wanted to stop people from knowing what it looks like, why post it on their own site [fbi.gov]

Having the Seal on the website might make it easier for people to design replicas ... but on the other hand, how would I know what an authentic FBI badge looks like if I've never seen it before, so how would I know if I'm dealing with an imposter or not?

That's not a really a valid reason for the Wikipedia Foundation to inform the public, it would be solely the FBI's responsibility. And the average citizen still wouldn't know if they're dealing with a real agent even if they produce a perfect replica. That's why social engineering works so well and why enforcement of this law is important only against those who actually pose as federal agents or actually conspire to, which obviously isn't the case with Wikipedia.

Re:Ummm what? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124286)

Sounds like the law is basically there to stop people from posing as federal agents.

Wait, you're telling that Wikipedia isn't a federal agent? Next you'll be telling me that anyone can edit pages on the site...

From the page itself... (2, Insightful)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123730)

This image is a work of a Federal Bureau of Investigation employee, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

This image shows a flag, a coat of arms, a seal or some other official insignia. The use of such symbols is restricted in many countries. These restrictions are independent of the copyright status.

Public domain from a copyright standpoint, but other restrictions apply. Unauthorized use of the FBI seal, name, and initials are subject to prosecution under Federal Criminal law, including 18 U.S.C 701, 709, and 712.

So uh, what exactly is their legal standing for keeping it up there? There must be more to it, but I can see how the FBI could read this and decide to sue them. :)

Re:From the page itself... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123890)

So uh, what exactly is their legal standing for keeping it up there?

Only something we like to call the First Amendment.

Re:From the page itself... (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124260)

I don't think the first amendment covers replicas of Seals of departments of the federal government anymore than it does creating replicas of currency. It certainly wouldn't have been original intent of the first amendment as back then seals were the one way to know when a document was official and I highly doubt they would have seen imitating those seals as an inalienable right inherent in their freedom of speech. How would you know if a seal is real back then if you've never seen the real one? Because people who try to imitate it and pass it off as real get hung/jailed, therefore very few imitators.

Re:From the page itself... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124022)

It goes something like this:

"This image is a work of a Federal Bureau of Investigation employee, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain."

Re:From the page itself... (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124332)

From TFA:

The enactment of [these laws] was intended to protect the public against the use of a recognizable assertion of authority with intent to deceive. The seal is in no way evidence of any 'intent to deceive', nor is it an 'assertion of authority', recognizable or otherwise

They assert the referenced laws only apply to uses of the image as a badge, identification card, or insignia, and that uses that are clearly just an image of these things, and not a imitation are legal.

I think that law applies to impersonation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123732)

Wikipedia is trying to pass as an FBI officer, obviously.

Slow day at the FBI (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123740)

I guess all the criminals took the day off?

Re:Slow day at the FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123782)

The US Government never takes the day off.

Re:Slow day at the FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123964)

Correct, just look at what goes through Congress [sunlightlabs.com] near holidays and weekends.

How long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33123742)

How long until the FBI just busts into the data center and starts confiscating servers?

BBC (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123752)

So, the BBC display the image that is illegal to show?

Re:BBC (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124164)

Assuming that with "BBC" you mean the British Broadcasting Corporation, I don't think American laws matter a lot for them (except for material they sell there). Especially they can show any amount of images which are illegal to show in the U.S., as long as they are not illegal to show in GB.

Re:BBC (1)

theghost (156240) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124266)

Yeah...i don't think the British Broadcasting Corporation is too afraid that the United States' federal law enforcement arm is going to come after them.

Re:BBC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124300)

Yeah, the BRITISH Broadcasting Corp. display an image that may or may not be illegal to show in AMERICA

Uh oh... (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123774)

Looks like the news site is going to be hit next!

And someone needs to tell those guys SVGs can scale up infinitely.

Wow (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123778)

Someone in legal has screwed up royally wonder if PR will get them to drop this silliness or if they manage to be dumb enough to let this go to court.

The old quote (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123832)

Arkell v. Pressdram (1971) [unreported]

Solicitor (Goodman Derrick & Co.):

We act for Mr Arkell who is Retail Credit Manager of Granada TV Rental Ltd. His attention has been drawn to an article appearing in the issue of Private Eye dated 9th April 1971 on page 4. The statements made about Mr Arkell are entirely untrue and clearly highly defamatory. We are therefore instructed to require from you immediately your proposals for dealing with the matter. Mr Arkell's first concern is that there should be a full retraction at the earliest possible date in Private Eye and he will also want his costs paid. His attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of your reply.

Private Eye:

We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr J. Arkell. We note that Mr Arkell's attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off.

[No further reply]

(Mike Godwin's response isn't quite that terse, but it's pretty close in tone. Read the letter (PDF) [nytimes.com] he sent the FBI.)

Re:The old quote (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123926)

The reply letter basically boils down (in internet forum speak) to this: "Please interpret the rules as they are written, don't just copy-paste the parts you like. Corrected those for you."

The closing is almost as sweet. (1)

ClayJar (126217) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124120)

Although it is not quite as colorful, I personally loved the closing: "With all appropriate respect,"

Now that, dear friends, is irony.

We are so screwed (1)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123856)

Really, we are. If our "fellow" humans are seeing fit to make out lives more difficult than they need to be for no real benefit (as the FBI are doing with Wikipedia), then how the fuck are we suppose to progress as a race? We're wasting time and effort making up bullshit reasons for messing around with each other, suing each other and other legal threats for petty things like this, when all it does is increase stress levels and make us despise each other that little bit more.

It's amazing how much headache and pain would go away if people just chilled once in a while, so that we could live and let live.

America... (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123896)

Land of the Free! As long as you don't tell or show anything the government does not want to hear or see!

Re:America... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124206)

We may as well ban the Swastika here as well.

More Details (5, Informative)

Lensman (21605) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123900)

NY Times has more [nytimes.com]. Including links to PDF's of the response. Parts of which are also quite funny: “While we appreciate your desire to revise the statute to reflect your expansive vision of it, the fact is that we must work with the actual language of the statute, not the aspirational version” that the F.B.I. had provided.

Let me get this straight... (3, Insightful)

somaTh (1154199) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123928)

So, they can't use the FBI's symbol, but it's okay that they use The President's Seal [wikipedia.org], The NSA Seal [wikipedia.org], the CIA Seal [wikipedia.org], and the DoD's seal [wikipedia.org]? How does that begin to make sense?

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

ArbitraryDescriptor (1257752) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124088)

It doesn't. If you restore the words that they glossed over with ellipses, you will find that this is a law against making fraudulent government credentials.

or in any other manner makes or executes any engraving, photograph, print, or impression in the likeness of any such badge, identification card, or other insignia, or any colorable imitation thereof, except as authorized under regulations made pursuant to law, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

Executive branch probing (1, Troll)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 3 years ago | (#33123930)

This is just the Executive branch pushing - probing, if you will - to see how receptive the populace is becoming towards the encroachment of thoughtcrime and various other totalitarian abuses. I doubt it's serious, but if they can smooth this over (in the courts) and not have massive public outcry, they know they can push more restrictions and governmental control.

IMO, this is the wrong government for Wikimedia to fight with, in this fashion. But I guess you've got to stand somewhere...

Re:Executive branch probing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124310)

This is just the Executive branch

The FBI is part of the Judicial Branch....

Stop dropping the FBI baby seals... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124076)

...you insensitive clods!

T-shirt (4, Funny)

boristdog (133725) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124122)

Does this mean I have to get rid of my Female Body Inspector T-shirt?

But it WORKS, man! Some chicks actually believe it!

Stupid cockblocking FBI.

Looks like a technicality to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124162)

From what I can tell the problem here is that they didn't ask for permission before posting the image. Since it would be rediculous to prohibit the seal from appearing in encyclopedias and by extension wikipedia (if the average person can't find an image of the legit seal they can't verify the validity of any potential fraudulent seals) I suspect the problem is more to do with the FBI never having given permission, and therefore someone who wouldn't normally be allowed to deny permission has taken it upon themselves to enforce a questionable interpretation of the law.

The thinking probably went something like this:
Hey look at that our seal is on wikipedia. Wait a minut any two bit criminal with photoshop could put that on a leterhead and it would be indistingushable from an authentic one. I wonder if they have permission to have that seal. Hmm, looks like there's no record of them having permision. I better send a takedown notice.

Realy this is a symptom of government's mind set being outdated. requiering "official seals" as a means of identifying legit vs iligitimate documents has been a prety worthless security measure for some time now, but it'll be a while before that multi thousand year tradtion gets abandoned.

But how would we know what it looks like? (2, Insightful)

Shompol (1690084) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124168)

Without Wikipedia, how will we know that FBI seal looks like? If all references to the seal are removed everywhere, an evil super villain can forge ANY seal to pass off as an FBI seal, making forgery even easier.

clowns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124172)

Most people in law enforcement consider the FBI a joke anyways...

Offical Seal -- What purpose can it serve? (2, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124182)

Ok, we use official seals to prove, or at least strongly suggest, the origin of authority. But what if someone comes to your door with "a" badge or "an" ID card you don't immediately recognize. Especially when dealing with someone in plain clothes, it would be rather beneficial to actually know which insignia is fake, which is real, and which comes from which department. But... if you aren't allowed to know in advance what an official insignia looks like, aren't you just making yourself susceptible to fraud?

The actual law.. (3, Informative)

Binkleyz (175773) | more than 3 years ago | (#33124192)

Just in case anyone wants to actually read it:
Section 701 [cornell.edu] of Title 18 of the US Code
Section 709 [cornell.edu] of Title 18 of the US Code
Section 712 [cornell.edu] of Title 18 of the US Code

FBI logo available on AP Graphics Bank (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33124296)

I am a graphic designer for a TV station. We subscribe to the Associated Press's Graphics Bank service. The same seal is available for download in high resolution. Is AP breaking the law? Am I breaking the law whenever I put the FBI logo on air for a story about the FBI??

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