updated 1/20/2006 6:17:24 PM ET 2006-01-20T23:17:24

The German version of Wikipedia returned to the Internet on Friday after three days offline, a blackout prompted by a lawsuit in which the parents of a dead hacker objected to the site’s use of his real name.

The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the collaborative Web encyclopedia, reached a temporary settlement with a Berlin court that will let users access the German-language version of Wikipedia at http://de.wikipedia.org, hosted in the United States, instead of its usual http://www.wikipedia.de.

The site also remained available by going to www.wikipedia.org, and clicking on the German language link.

The Berlin court had issued an injunction taking down Wikipedia’s German site Tuesday. But on Friday, the court declared the injunction unenforceable until a final decision is made, noting it was not proper to block access to all of the encyclopedia’s entries because of concern about just one.

The case began when the family of the German hacker known as “Tron,” who was found hanged in a park in 1998, sued to stop Wikipedia from including the man’s real name, citing German privacy law.

A decision is expected in two weeks.

Ultimately, analysts said, it will be difficult to keep the name private, particularly on a site renowned for its open access policy that lets readers modify and edit its 3.7 million articles — a format that has inspired recent scrutiny over Wikipedia’s accuracy.

“One can understand that they may not want their late son to be remembered in this way, so one can feel some sympathy toward their point of view,” said Graham Cluley of Sophos, a London-based consulting firm. “But in the age of the Internet it doesn’t make much difference closing down a Web page which redirects to the Wikipedia Web site, when the information is freely available via other routes.”

Another result is that the family may have drawn more attention to the listing than it got before.

“Sadly for the family, getting a court order against www.wikipedia.de will not be the solution they are looking for. I find it unlikely that they will ever be satisfied in this issue, and disrupting www.wikipedia.de has only probably drawn more attention to the hacker’s short life,” Cluley said.

Wikipedia, which boasts articles in 200 languages, is the 37th most visited Web site on the Internet, according to the research service Alexa.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments