The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Wiki Writer Goes to Court Over Freedom to Link

by Shreema Mehta

Jan. 10, 2007 – An anonymous writer who linked from a collaborative website to a drug company’s internal documents is appealing a court order demanding the removal of the links.

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The links were posted on the website, a "wiki" discussing the controversy surrounding pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly’s drug Zyprexa and its marketing campaign. A wiki is a website in which users can edit and add information collectively.

The NewStandard was unable to review the documents at the heart of the case because they have been removed on court order. According to the New York Times, however, which reported on the documents in December, they detailed a marketing plan seeking to downplay links between Zyprexa use and obesity and diabetes. The Times said it obtained the documents from a lawyer representing mentally ill patients who allege they developed diabetes after taking the drug.

Zyprexa is marketed to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

According to court documents, Eli Lilly sent a letter to demanding removal of the links after a court ordered in December that the attorney and others in possession of the documents to stop disseminating and publishing them. A district court judge in New York extended the order to the wiki and other websites on January 4.

While links to the documents have been removed from the wiki, an anonymous contributor is appealing the order, arguing that access to the documents is an "overriding public concern." The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital-freedom organization representing the contributor, said the order violates the contributor’s free speech rights.

"Preventing a citizen-journalist from posting links to important health information on a public wiki violates the First Amendment," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann in a press statement. "Eli Lilly's efforts to censor these documents off the Internet are particularly outrageous in light of the information reported by the New York Times, which suggests that doctors and patients who use Zyprexa need to know the information contained in those documents."

The EFF has asked the court to free and any other news outlet or contributor without a direct relationship to Eli Lilly from the court order.

A hearing on the protest of the order is scheduled for January 16.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

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Shreema Mehta is a staff journalist.

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