The Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, has filed a lawsuit against Internet Brands (IB), the parent company of travel site Wikitravel, in an attempt to protect two of its volunteers. The suit follows legal action by Internet Brands against the two volunteers, who have worked on Wikitravel but are also involved in setting up a new, non-commercial travel site under the Wikimedia umbrella.
News of the potential site first emerged in July, with the foundation conducting a lengthy request for comments (RFC) process in order to gain the input of the Wikimedia community. Given that Wikitravel's user-contributed content is made available under a Creative Commons license, volunteers working on the new wiki would be free to copy it, providing they offered proper attribution — a possibility which has made Internet Brands understandably anxious.
"On August 29, Internet Brands sued two volunteer administrators, one based in Los Angeles and one in Canada, asserting a variety of claims," writes Wikimedia's Deputy General Counsel Kelly Kay in a statement. "Internet Brands appears to be attempting to thwart the creation of a new, non-commercial travel wiki in a misguided effort to protect its for-profit Wikitravel site."
While Wikitravel still hosts a thriving community of volunteers, many administrators have grown dissatisfied with what they see as an undue emphasis on monetization at the expense of content quality. Filed in the San Francisco Superior Court, Wikimedia's suit seeks "a judicial determination that it may create, freely own and operate a website which contains any or all content created by volunteer authors and administrators which is or has been hosted on the Wikitravel website."