back to article Wikipedia sued for publishing convicted murderer's name

A man who served 15 years for the gruesome murder of a famous German actor is taking legal action against Wikipedia for reporting the conviction. Attorneys took the action on behalf of Wolfgang Werlé, one of two men to receive a life sentence for the 1990 murder of Walter Sedlmayr. In a letter sent late last month to Wikipedia …


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  1. Gordon861

    Don't Mention The War

    Next they will be telling people to remove all mention that the Germans tried to invade all of Europe in the 1940's because they have served their sentence now.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE:Conviction "spent"?

    Spent convictions just mean that (1) You don't have to fess up to them on things like job applications (although anything requiring a CRB will require you to list spent convictions) and (2) until spent a conviction will be held against you if you are convicted of something else.

    For reference: in the UK any conviction resulting in a prison sentence of greater than 30 months will *never* become spent. I do not know how things work in Germany though.

    However, whether spent or unspent the matter has still occurred. To AC 12:10 - Yes if you have been done for pot possession 30 years ago you might be unhappy about it being mentioned on a Google search but hey, you did it, you got caught *it happened* so just man up and deal with it. Which is exactly what the murderer Wolfgang Werle should do. Except he murdered someone. Which is worse than smoking pot. To those of us that don't read the Mail that is.

  3. copsewood

    Wikipedia, organisation and offices

    An organisation that doesn't want to abide by the laws of a country shouldn't locate offices and provide employment there. Then someone living in Germany would have to sue Wikipedia based on law where Wikipedia is based; if Wikipedia have no Germany office there is nowhere to serve the papers within the jurisdiction of German law. Perhaps if Wikipedia wants a German language edition they can license the rights to the name to a local organisation which would set site policy based on law within the German speaking country where they operate,e.g. Austria or Switzerland. If the German language edition organisation isn't responsible for the English language Wikipedia they can't be sued over the publication policies of another organisation which grants them a trademark license.

    This all suggests to me that Wikipedia shouldn't be a single organisation.

  4. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    Removal from the public record

    What after fifteen years they go around all the libraries and burn all the old news papers in case there are court reports in them?

  5. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Beautiful phrasing guys

    'The dispute is the latest example of a party reaching halfway across the globe in an attempt to deprive the world of content that may or may not violate the laws of a single jurisdiction. If such actions succeed, they will largely gut free speech rights such as those guaranteed by the First Amendment, '

    The irony of that section just keeps on giving...

  6. david 12 Bronze badge

    I support the Germans

    At what point does the NAME of offender become relevant? Only at the point where the blood-thirsty crowd wants to be right bastards.

    And now a bunch of Britishers and Americans are insisting on their "right" to know the identity of a murderer in jail half-way around the world?

    Of course, I'm the odd one who believes that evil is done by people like us, not by the "evil other", the politicians, the jews, the gypsies, so I believe that more evil is done by the mob after making those people wear yellow stars and pink triangles.

    And just a point: "The Register" is not disinterested here. Like all of the media, "The Register" reports stories. Respect for individuals doesn't hurt me: it does hurt "The Register".

  7. dsdsd


    I do not see this case as a deformation of character because they were sentenced to life in prison for murder. Being sentenced for murder is self defamation. Werle brought this all on himself because he committed a crime. It is truth that they were sentenced to life in prison and it doesn’t matter if they think they are innocent. I don’t think we should have to hide an act of murder to the public. I think it is valuable information for the public to have access to, and this is one example of why the First Amendment was put into place. The United States and Germany have very different views on this matter but since Wikipedia is based in the United States they do not and should not respond to this request made by Werlé’s lawyers. Floyd Abrams a prominent First Amendment lawyer in the United States said in a New York Times article “is easily, comfortably protected by the First Amendment.” I think that if this type of information is concealed it is dangerous to the well being of the general public because they are unaware of what these people have done.


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