German Murderer Seeks to Censor Wikipedia

Ryan Whitwam

A well known Bavarian actor by the name of Walter Sedlmayr was murdered in 1990. Two of his associated were tried and convicted of the crime. These men were recently paroled, and one of them is none too pleased that anyone can read all about him on the internet. He has retained a lawyer and has sued Wikipedia in Germany, and is also making noise about suing the English language version.

This all comes back to German law, which holds that private citizens should have their names and likenesses protected. The ex-convict is making the argument that while he may have been a public figure during the trial, he isn’t anymore. He wants the Sedlmayr page censored to remove all mention of him.

The EFF is strongly opposed to the possibility of censoring Wikipedia at the behest of a convicted murderer (or anyone for that matter). They point out that is it impossible for all publications to abide by the censorship laws of any legal system. The U.S. First Amendment protects this sort of speech, but how far will the German lawyers try to take this?

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