28 February 2023, San Francisco – The Wikimedia Foundation today announced Stephen LaPorte as General Counsel. Stephen was previously Deputy General Counsel at the Foundation; he has held several leadership roles in the Legal department, covering a range of legal issues including copyright, trademarks, governance, and public policy.
The Wikimedia Foundation is the global nonprofit that supports Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. Since starting at the Wikimedia Foundation in 2012, Stephen has led several high profile initiatives to protect access to knowledge and defend the rights of the hundreds of thousands of volunteer contributors that edit Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects. He was a core part of the legal team that worked to overturn the block of Wikipedia in Turkey, after the site was blocked in the country for nearly three years. In 2020, the highest court in Turkey ruled that the block of Wikipedia was unconstitutional and violated the right to freedom of expression, and access to Wikipedia across the country was soon restored. Stephen was also part of the team that led the Wikimedia Foundation’s efforts to promote Internet freedom, access to knowledge, and online collaboration, in response to the EU Copyright Directive and similar regulation elsewhere. Stephen has fostered close collaboration with a team of attorneys and other experts who defend and advance Wikimedia’s mission and values. Even though the Wikimedia Foundation’s lawsuit against the National Security Agency was dismissed last week, it shows Wikimedia’s ongoing commitment to privacy and freedom of expression, which remain essential for free knowledge projects like Wikipedia.
“Stephen has demonstrated a deep commitment to Wikimedia’s mission for well over a decade. We are fortunate to have his counsel, expertise, and leadership in this role at a time when threats to free knowledge and open information are increasing around the world,” said Maryana Iskander, CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation.
In addition to Stephen’s legal expertise, he is also an active contributor to Wikipedia, Wikisource, and free software projects. Stephen’s projects include interactive, real time, visualizations of collaboration on Wikipedia, including co-creating Listen to Wikipedia and a weekly newsletter of the most edited articles on Wikipedia.
“Through more than a decade supporting Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects, I’ve been able to experience firsthand the value of sharing and participating in knowledge together with volunteer communities around the world,” said Stephen LaPorte, General Counsel. “We are at the forefront of protecting access to knowledge and free expression for billions of readers and the next billion people that will come online in the coming years.”
Stephen received his BA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and his JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
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About the Wikimedia Foundation
The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We believe that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge, and that everyone should be able to access that knowledge freely. We host Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, build software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content, support the volunteer communities and partners who make Wikimedia possible, and advocate for policies that enable Wikimedia and free knowledge to thrive.
The Wikimedia Foundation is a charitable, not-for-profit organization that relies on donations. We receive donations from millions of individuals around the world, with an average donation of about $15. We also receive donations through institutional grants and gifts. The Wikimedia Foundation is a United States 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA.
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