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Wikipedia editors hit with $10 million defamation lawsuit

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Four Wikipedia editors have been named in a $10 million lawsuit by a Canadian businessman over changes made to his page.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Ventura County’s Superior Court on June 11, claims that these four editors conspired to tarnish the name of entrepreneur, musician, and philantropist Yank Barry through “wrongful conduct, defamation and invasion of privacy.”

The four people named in the suit were Richard Fife, Nate Gertler, Ethan Urbanik, and John Nagle.

Barry is a Montreal-based businessman who founded VitaPro Foods in the late 1980s. The company creates textured vegetable protein aimed at cutting down on worldwide meat consumption. In the mid-1990s, Barry and former Texas Department of Criminal Justice head James Collins were convicted of a kickback scheme involving VitaPro and Texas prisons.

“Jurors convicted Collins of taking at least $20,000 from VitaPro Foods in exchange for pushing through a five-year, $33.7 million contract to distribute a soy-based granular substance to Texas inmates to cut food costs,” the Associated Press reported. “Barry was convicted of the same charges—bribery, money laundering and conspiracy—for allegedly paying the bribes.”

Collins and Barry were acquitted in 2005, the AP added.

The Wikipedia editor lawsuit includes 31 different entries made on Barry’s Wikipedia page that he considers erroneous and “defamatory.”

 

The legal documents excerpted above were acquired by user thekohser of Wikipediocracy, a watchdog site and place where users criticize about the site’s administrators.

On the the talk section for Barry’s Wikipedia page, editor Ganbarreh states that Fife “made a clear statement about his agenda to maintain defamatory material on the subjects page in order to cause financial harm and threaten the subjects livelihood.”

Fife responded, claiming it wasn’t his “finest wikipedia moment” and that his edit was intended to “prepare for large amounts of edits biased towards the positive to the article.”

Barry claims that he tried to resolve many of the issues with his page diplomatically but was ultimately forced to take legal action.

“My page was so ridiculously false and made me sound like a terrible person and people believed it causing deals to fall through,” Barry told PR NewsChannel. “I finally had enough.”

Read the full legal brief below.

Wikipedia Lawsuit

H/T @ilvadel | Illustration by Jason Reed