I have a lot of respect for the Wikimedia Foundation, everyone I’ve met from it have been great people and I use their software and projects daily. I was proud to take part in the Wikipedia Loves Art event earlier this year. But as an artist I am disappointed and offended by Wikimedia’s treatment of a contemporary art project.
Whatever lawyers who charge for each letter they send out on your behalf may tell you, and whatever your opinion of contemporary art, there are strong precedents in the US supporting free speech under the first amendment for artists who use trademarks. To demand that artists transfer resources to a trademark holder or face legal action is therefore not just a chilling effect on free speech but legally shaky.
The EFF, to their credit, point this out here –
And details on an artwork and lawsuit that provide an important precedent can be found here –
Wikimedia’s response has been to disparage the concerns of the artists and the EFF –
Other web sites have picked up on this, and are supporting the artists –
The problem with Wikimedia’s over-reaching application of their trademark to the material detrement of artists is a chilling effect on freedom of speech. Wikimedia owe the artists and the EFF an apology. This behaviour really is beneath such an excellent organization.