Wikipedia has an article on the Federal Bureau of Investigation, much like all things that a large amount of people might desire encyclopedic information on. Naturally, because it makes sense to do so, the Wikipedia community put a picture of the FBI’s official seal in the article, just in case, you know, someone might want to know what it looked like.
So the FBI decided to send the Wikimedia Foundation a letter in which they demanded this image of the seal be removed because apparently there’s some federal law against depicting the seal of a federal agency in 18 U.S.C. § 701. Except that there isn’t.
Wikimedia’s attorney Mike Godwin (yes, that Godwin) wrote back to the FBI, informing them that:
As the leading case interpreting Section 701 points out, “The enactment of § 701 was intended to protect the public against the use of a recognizable assertion of authority with the intent to deceive.”…Our inclusion of an image of the FBI seal is in no way any evidence of “intent to deceive,” nor is it an “assertion of authority,” recognizable or otherwise.
Entertainingly, in support of your argument, you included a version of 701 in which you removed the very phrases that [pertain to deception]. While we appreciate your desire to revise the statute to reflect your expansive vision of it, the fact is that we must work with the actual language of the statute, not the aspirational version of Section 701 that you forwarded to us.
Long story short, it is perfectly okay to post a picture of the FBI seal on the Internet, as long as you’re not doing it in order to claim that you are the FBI. So I’m going to exercise my right to do so, and I encourage everyone else on the Internet to join me.
Seriously, doesn’t the FBI have anything better to do?