German murderers sue to get removed from Wikipedia -

German murderers sue to get removed from Wikipedia

Killers say they’ve paid their debt, launch suit pitting German privacy law against free expression


You can look them up on newspaper microfilm any time—if you go to a library. But Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber, two Germans who murdered an actor 19 years ago, want their names and images yanked from Wikipedia because they believe they’ve paid their debt to society. Under German law, at least, they’re getting their way. Werlé and Lauber won a ruling in that country forcing Wikipedia to wipe their names and photos off its German-language articles on the killing, citing a 1973 court ruling that allows the suppression of criminals’ identities once they’ve done their time. Now they want the English version of the user-written encyclopedia expurgated—a much taller order because it pits the German law against the American First Amendment right to free expression. It also pits the ’73 ruling against modern reality: a simple Google search produces archived material relating to the slaying of Walter Sedlmayer that was legally produced at the time. Why should Wikipedia have to censor itself if the rest of the Internet doesn’t?

The New York Times

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