Talk:Legal/Legal Fees Assistance Program

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Writing[edit]

I have to say that this is one of the best-written WMF pages I've ever seen. Tony (talk) 12:05, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

If you mean typographically, there are a lot of uppercase vs. lowercase inconsistencies. ;-) Just kidding, Nemo 07:56, 1 September 2012 (UTC)
I find myself agreeing with Tony1 on this point. Sven Manguard (talk) 03:26, 19 September 2012 (UTC)

Termination[edit]

The page says: "if those funds are ever exhausted, a decision will be made by WMF whether to renew the program". And if not, will at least the already granted assistance be brought to completion or could this imply interruption of assistance? This is very important to note, changing lawyer in the middle of a trial is probably not fun. --Nemo 07:56, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

I don't think WMF can give an openended commitment. I think the statement above is appropriate. For a case which is expected to exhaust the fund I would expect the grantee and their legal team to discuss this ahead of time with the WMF and for the WMF to take appropriate action - say to launch an appeal for donations and consider renewing the program the before the funds run out so everyone has adequate notice. Filceolaire (talk) 21:12, 2 September 2012 (UTC)

RFC[edit]

I want to be sure people are able to find the RFC: Request for comment/Legal Fees Assistance Program --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 12:36, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

Could this link please be put on the content page as well? It is not clear from the draft that there is an ongoing RFC. Risker (talk) 06:26, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done Philippe (WMF) (talk) 19:36, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

Transparency[edit]

Will there be a public log of who receives aid from this program and why they're receiving aid? This is probably something donors to Wikimedia would want to know about. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 17:40, 2 September 2012 (UTC)

Hi Michaeldsuarez - Such cases are so rare that we will probably handle going public on a case-by-case basis. I can imagine matters where - for reasons of litigation strategy, privacy of the user in a support role, or security issues in certain countries - we do not want to go public. There will be other cases where it does not matter, and we likely would post those cases. Good question, thanks. Geoffbrigham (talk) 22:41, 2 September 2012 (UTC)
I understand. Thanks. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 11:21, 3 September 2012 (UTC)

Payment of opposing sides fees.[edit]

"This assistance will not include payment of fines or damages,". What about the opposing sides lawyers fees? I think it would be sensible to specifically exclude payment of those from this fund as part of some settlement.

Part of the objective here is to make suing a WMF volunteer like attacking a hedgehog. It has excellent defences but if you finally break through those defences there is very little meat to be had. Some nutbar wants to sue and talks to a lawyer; promises the lawyer can keep all the damages provided he exacts revenge on those wikifiddlers. The lawyer does a calculation

  1. What are the chances his client will run out of money?
  2. What are the chances the WMF volunteer will run out of money or can't afford a lawyer
  3. If you win then what are the chances the WMF volunteer can pay damages and costs?

When they are doing this calc we want to make it look like the answer to 2 is that the WMF volunteer will fight on and never give up but the answer to 3 is that if you defeat the WMF volunteer in court then you probably won't get much. Filceolaire (talk) 21:38, 2 September 2012 (UTC)

Hi Filceolaire. I agree with you. The legal fees at issue are only for the defense of the eligible user in a support role; the program is not meant to cover damages, including the payment of plaintiff lawyer fees. We may include clarifying language to that effect in the final version of the program provided to the Board (thanks to your feedback). Geoffbrigham (talk) 22:48, 2 September 2012 (UTC)

Reviewers[edit]

en:Wikipedia_talk:PC2012#Why – Can reviewers please be listed as a support role? One of the concerns that I've been hearing about pending changes is possible legal responsibility over the revisions that a reviewer approves. --Michaeldsuarez (talk) 11:21, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

Hi Michaeldsuarez. For now, I would prefer not to include reviewers explictly, though I understand your concern. Historically, however, we have often defended our editors and contributors, which, in my mind, is more comparable to reviewers. In that respect, the FAQ explains a bit more here. Geoffbrigham (talk) 09:50, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Is there a reason that FAQ isn't linked from the main LFAP page? The only way to find it seems to be via this talk page? cmadler (talk) 19:19, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
It's linked from the RFC and the announcement. However, there should be no problem with adding it to the box on the top. I'll do that. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 20:14, 7 September 2012 (UTC)

Administrators and regular members of the community; Wikimedia chapters[edit]

First of all, I'd like to thank all involved in drafting this page and putting it into an RFC; I think this is a great start for a proposal that might have a lot of positive impact in the real world. I would like, however, to raise two points just now:

  1. Why is this proposal limited only to people performing support roles? I cannot see a difference between suing a regular member of the community who decides to bring an article into AFD with a cheeky comment and an administrator who deletes that article or blocks a side directly involved in a discussion or performs another action that might seem controversial.

    Over the years I have witnessed a few legal cases being brought against members of the community, and also a lot of angry e-mails sent to OTRS, with legal threats included—and these haven't always been directed at people with support roles. I have also seen proposals like this being suggested a lot of times (in my local, Polish Wikimedia community), and they have never been limited to support roles. I remember this quite famous slogan, coined by or at least attributed to, Jimmy, that said that adminship is no big deal; well, if it isn't, why do we differentiate between regular users and those that have a few buttons more and perform mainly a technical and administrative role in the community (besides their other involvements)?

  2. I also feel that the current wording of the proposal lacks the mention of the chapters. I am aware that assisting members of the community with legal proceedings (by covering legal fees, etc.) does not belong to the responsibilities of the chapters, but I think this might be a nice possibility for them to be active and directly involved with the community. Especially, I think that chapters are more suitable to undertake this kind of activities than the Foundation because they (1) are local and closer to the community, (2) they operate in the jurisdiction in which the cases might be brought up, and (3) they have an even better access to lawyers than the WMF.

    I also know that at least some of the chapters have the ability to cover those costs by themselves—and I'm sure that those that don't would be more than happy to assist anyway, and get the financial support from the WMF through the grants programme. Users from jurisdictions not covered by a chapter could still request the assistance from the Foundation or (possibly) from a chapter in their vicinity.

Just my three cents. odder (talk) 15:46, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

Hi, Odder. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :) I've just added a section to the FAQ that speaks to your first point. With respect to the second, I am speaking only as myself since I have no real insight into this, but I think that the Wikimedia Foundation would not be in position to write policies about what chapters should do, since they are independent entities. :) I don't know what all chapters do, but I know some of them already consult attorneys in their jurisdiction. --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 12:10, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Hi Maggie, thanks for your comment. I am far from suggesting that the WMF should write a policy about what chapters should or should not do; on the contrary, I meant only that if chapters would take the responsibility of assisting users with legal proceedings (in their jurisdiction or in the vicinity), there wouldn't be such a burning need for this policy in the first place. odder (talk) 14:30, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
I think it would be exceptional if chapters would offer to step up to support people in those areas. That would leave a bigger "pot" of money for the parts of the world not covered by chapters. Indeed, a few chapters have made it a point to support contributors from their areas. I encourage the others to consider it. However, as Maggie (rightly) points out, in the absence of that, folks are out there doing good work, and we're going to have their back. Philippe (WMF) (talk) 08:09, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

Donations?[edit]

As I was reading about the Internet Brands lawsuit, one of the thoughts that went through my mind was "if the WMF put up a fundraising banner right now offering the community the ability to chip in with the legal fees assistance, I'd send in a twenty without hesitation."

I think that the Legal Fees Assistance Program is a fantastic idea, and I hope that the WMF gives it a budget that allows it to function. We should not, however, underestimate the community's willingness to band together and strike back when someone declares war against one of our own. I'd like to see the WMF set up a special donations page where users could donate money with the understanding that a) the money would only be used for the legal defense of Wikipedians, and would be administered by the WMF as part of the general Legal Fees Assistance Program funds and b) that the WMF wouldn't consider how much money was coming in from user donations when calculating how much money they themselves were budgeting for the Legal Fees Assistance Program.

It might not ever see many donations, but god forbid the Legal Fees Assistance Program has to be mobilized, it just might see a torrent of financial support from the community. Sven Manguard (talk) 03:40, 19 September 2012 (UTC)

Thank you Sven for this excellent idea. Our community cares significantly about free expression and justice. It is demonstrated in their daily discussions and actions and would no doubt manifest itself if the need arose for immediate donations to defend and protect a fellow community member. Needless to say, I'm extremely proud to work with this community and its values. Geoffbrigham (talk) 22:44, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Referral of Proposed Program to the WMF Board of Trustees[edit]

The Request for Comment has closed with community consensus for the proposal. I accordingly will transmit the proposed Legal Fees Assistance Program to the WMF Board of Trustees for its review and consideration.

In response to community comments, we have made clear that the Legal Fees Assistance Program will not provide funding for any award of attorney's fees. This clarification has been added to the proposed Legal Fees Assistance Program.

Thank you again for all the insightful and constructive comments in your review and consideration of this proposed program. Geoffbrigham (talk) 02:20, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

And it was shortly approved by the Board. SJ talk  22:39, 5 April 2013 (UTC)

Discussed on fr:wp[edit]

This policy has been mentioned in the recent discussions on fr:wp. SJ talk  22:40, 5 April 2013 (UTC)