Self censorsip by German Wikipedia

Friday, March 16, 2007 at 5:37 | Posted in censorship, Freedom of speech, Germany, Legal | 7 Comments
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The article about Atze Schröder in German Wikipedia is closed for editing after a hot debate. The real name of the stand up comedian, Hubertus Albers, has been removed from the article.

This act of self censorship is based on a ruling of Landgericht Berling placing a gag order on a German newspaper to print the name Hubertus Albers. Wikipedia is no party in the case.

For more details see my post yesterday.

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  1. […] Asi on nii kaugele arenenud, et saksakeelne Wikipedia on otsustanud ägeda vaidluse järel enesetsensuuri korras Atze Schröderi artikli toimetamiselt sulgeda ja tema pärisnime Hubertus Albers artiklist maha […]

  2. Let me say it in German: Man nennt so etwas typisch deutschen “vorauseilenden Gehorsam”. Man will gerechter sein als die Gerechten.
    Was ist denn geschehen: Ein Comedy-Künstler will seine Familie und seine Privatsphäre schützen. Er tritt seit Jahren ausschließlich mit Perücke und Brille und in besonderer Kleidung auf. Es ist zwar ein offenes Geheimnis, wie er wirklich heißt, aber wie er wirklich aussieht, ist nicht bekannt. Zumindest nicht außerhalb seines Wohnortes.
    Einige Paparazzi haben ihm aber keine Ruhe gelassen und einige wenige Bilder von ihm geschossen. Immer mehr wollte man auch sein Privatleben enthüllen. Dieses ist aber sehr bieder und bürgerlich, ganz anders als die proletenhafte und machomässige Darstellung seiner Kunstfigur.
    Ich finde, er hat das Recht, zu verhindern, daß ihm unentwegt weiter nachgestellt wird. Das was er zu geben bereit ist, das gibt er auf der Bühne, der Rest ist privat.

    Nun hat er eine Zeitung verklagt und gewonnen. Nach dem deutschen Recht darf damit diese Zeitung, NUR DIESE ZEITUNG, keine Bilder mehr veröffentlichen und den Namen nicht mehr nennen. Für alle anderen Menschen auf der Welt gilt das nicht.
    Wenn er das wirkungsvoll verhindern will, dass NIEMAND mehr seinen Namen nennt und seine Fotos zeigt, dann muss er jeden Einzelnen verklagen und es ihm verbieten lassen. Ein Urteil ist kein Gesetz!

  3. Peter, I can understand that Mr. Albers wants to protect his family although one could ask who from. The people in Emsdetten would hardly like to harm his family and they know him already, many of them even know the exact location of his home. I agree that Mr Albers has the right to limit his public statements to those he choses to deliver on stage as Atze Schröder.

    However, it is no secret that Atze Schröder is Hubertus Albers and while it is irrelevant in context of his professional acting, it is a fact. A legal room that allows somebody to ban mentioning their name is bizarre. I can not effect what other people say about me and how they refer to me.

    As you point out, this court ruling (which is likely to be appealed) only binds the paper concerned. If I were a publisher operating in Germany, it would make sense to think twice whether or not to print the name. But there is no fat chance in the World that an American court would issue a similar gag order against Wiki. The service operates in US servers and is run by a US based foundation.

    Self censorship is a sad thing and it is so much more upsetting that it is being performed for so stupid reasons. The German Wikipedia has done something which contradicts many of the basic principals which constitute the very idea of Wikipedia.

  4. What I wanted to point out is the fact, that I think Mr. Albers doesn’t really want to prohibit anybody to mention his name. He wanted to stop THAT newspaper. And maybe he wanted to show that he is not willing that other newspapers come nearer and nearer to his privacy. Not even in communism it was possible to make something unknown which was known by everybody. Maybe one can make it unspoken…
    But back to my first thought: I asume that Mr. Albers is a very intelligent and clever man, and for sure he knows that nearly everybody is aware of his real name. But knowing somebodys name and where he lives is one thing. It does not include the right to hang around somebodys house day and night, just waiting for the chance to get a glance of the private outfit, the woman or the kids.
    What Mr. Albers did was, what we call “Säbelrasseln”, just showing the weapons available and just making sure that everybody knows: right here is the line, don’t cross it.

  5. Why would anybody want to hang around his house? That would be crazy.

    I agree that this must be a cleaver person. Just think of the buzz you and me are creating by writing about it. Quite a lot of people outside Germany now know about him who had never heard of him before.

    I still feel sad about Wikipedia’s self censorship. What was it Wittgenstein used to say? “”Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen.”

  6. That’s, sadly, not the first case of “vorauseilender Gehorsam”.

    The article about Sven H., a former GDR polit officer who is now the chairman of the main personnel council of the Bundespolizei and wants not to be mentioned by books and newspapers, has been deleted (http://www.mein-parteibuch.org mentioned him too)…

    And there are several other articles (Amoklauf von Emsdetten, …) where substantial details are being omitted. 😦

    I think an “asylum” for information that is not welcome on Wikipedia could be good…

  7. I saw the coverage in Parteibuch and meant to blog about it myself but then I fell ill and had to cut my blogging for several days.

    Let us think about alternative channels. 😉


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