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There is little doubt that Wikipedia is one of the world’s most influential websites today – and its sphere of influence is set to grow in days to come. The evidence for this is strong. As of December 2010, Wikipedia is the Internet’s 6th most popular website (by virtue of the Alexa Traffic Rank), and it is also the most popular "general reference" site in cyberspace, with almost 4 million articles in the English language edition. It has been and will continue to be the flagship of Web 2.0, with every single edit being potentially scrutinised by a global audience, and it is well on its way to becoming the world’s largest repository of knowledge and most consulted resource. Anyone who has any decent amount of experience using the internet will know that searching for anything on the internet via popular search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo! will almost invariably result in Wikipedia entries being ranked among the top 5 hits; as a result, anybody who has access to the internet would very likely have used Wikipedia in one way or another. And it is not uncommon for us to chance upon exceptionally well written and referenced articles with outstanding detail and scope. However, while everybody may be familiar with what Wikipedia is in a very general sense, not everybody is necessarily well acquainted with how Wikipedia actually governs itself – an increasingly complex society in cyberspace, as it were,11 with almost 100,000 "active contributors" from around the world working on the project,12 and hundreds of thousands of other unidentifiable or casual editors contributing hundreds of thousand edits on a daily basis as well. Specifically, one has to realise that for an international community of editors to build up the world’s largest encyclopedia effectively, a comprehensive array of internal regulations needs to be constantly designed (principally by the editors no less), refined (just like any other article in the encyclopedia), and adhered to, and indeed this is a very nuanced process that has been ongoing – and will continue to take place. This point is particularly significant, bearing in mind that Wikipedia by and large holds true to its widely known mantra as being "the free encyclopedia" that anyone is able to edit, at any place, and at any point in time. From the aforementioned realisation, a whole host of potentially intriguing socio-legal issues emerge.


Intellectual Property Law | Internet Law

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Intellectual Property and Technology-related Law

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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