FRANKFURT, Germany – The Wikimedia Foundation reached a temporary settlement Friday with a court that allowed users to access the German-language version of the Web-based encyclopedia Wikipedia under a different URL after it was offline for three days.
The redirecting of the site http://www.wikipedia.de to http://de.wikipedia.org was part of a court injunction seeking to temporarily prevent the German chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation from publishing the site as part of a lawsuit filed by the family of a dead hacker.
A statement on the original site said lawyers had paid a euro500 (US$605) fine, allowing them to circumvent the order and let users access the site, which is hosted in the United States and not Germany. A final ruling is expected in two weeks' time.
The site also remained available by going to http://www.wikipedia.org, and clicking on the German-language link.
A Berlin court ordered the site pulled on Tuesday, after the family of the German hacker known as "Tron," whose real name is Boris F., sued the Wikimedia Foundation to prevent them from publishing the real name of their son, who was found hanged in a park in 1998.
Wikimedia lawyer Thorsten Feldmann said he hoped the final ruling would allow the site to return to the Web, but vowed to challenge it should the court decide otherwise.
Analysts said it would be difficult to keep Boris F.'s surname private, particularly on a site renowned for its access and ability by readers to modify and edit information.
"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 London-based Sophos, a 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."
He said the family has drawn more attention to the listing than before.
"Sadly for the family, getting a court order against http://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 http://www.wikipedia.de has only probably drawn more attention to the hacker's short life," Cluley said.
Wikipedia, which boasts 3.7 million articles in 200 languages, is the 37th most visited Web site on the Internet, according to the research service Alexa.
Set up in 2002, it is a free site and allows anyone — amateur or professional, expert or novice — to submit and edit entries.