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Old 03-04-2018, 05:45 AM   #1
doubleshuffle
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gutenberg.org blocks access to all German IP-addresses

Following a Frankfurt court's ruling in favour of German publisher S. Fischer (a subsidiary of the international Holtzbrinck corporation), gutenberg.org has begun blocking access to all its books from German IP addresses.

S. Fischer had sued because of some German books that are public domain in the U.S., but not in Life+70 countries.

https://cand.pglaf.org/germany/index.html
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Old 03-04-2018, 10:34 AM   #2
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OK for an immediate response to a legal situation

That needs to be resolved quickly. But hardly an acceptable long term solution for any one. I hoe the project has the manpower and resources to find a more 'elegant' solution.
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Old 03-04-2018, 03:06 PM   #3
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I won't delve into the copyright issues, but pray tell how does a problem with only 18 books turn into all of Germany being blocked from all of gutenberg.org?
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Old 03-04-2018, 03:29 PM   #4
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I won't delve into the copyright issues, but pray tell how does a problem with only 18 books turn into all of Germany being blocked from all of gutenberg.org?
The court only required that, and PG could pretty easily just block the 18 affected books (it might take a few hours longer than a blanket ban, but it's not that difficult).

I'm guessing they're using a complete German block to help publicize the ruling and raise awareness of their plight.
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Old 03-04-2018, 04:35 PM   #5
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I won't delve into the copyright issues, but pray tell how does a problem with only 18 books turn into all of Germany being blocked from all of gutenberg.org?
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The court only required that, and PG could pretty easily just block the 18 affected books (it might take a few hours longer than a blanket ban, but it's not that difficult).

I'm guessing they're using a complete German block to help publicize the ruling and raise awareness of their plight.
I don't think it is awareness they are raising, but protection against further action. The article is an interesting read and answers the question with (bold mine):

Quote:
Q: Why block all of Germany, rather than just those 18 books?
A: PGLAF's legal advisors disagree with all claims that there must be any blocking, or removal, or anything associated - censorship, fines/fees, disclaimers, etc. - for items that are in the public domain in the US. Period.

Because the German Court has overstepped its jurisdiction, and allowed the world's largest publishing group to bully Project Gutenberg for these 18 books, there is every reason to think that this will keep happening. There are thousands of eBooks in the Project Gutenberg collection that could be subject to similar over-reaching and illigitimate actions.
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Old 03-04-2018, 05:50 PM   #6
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The authors of those 18 eBooks in question as well as an explaination of the contrasting copyright laws:

Quote:
Q: Who are the authors? Why are they copyrighted in Germany, but not the the US?
A:

Heinrich Mann, who died in 1950.
Thomas Mann, who died in 1955.
Alfred Döblin, who died in 1957.

In Germany, they are copyrighted based on "life +70 years" of copyright protection (so, copyright will expire after 2020, 2025 and 2027, respectively). In the US, copyright protection for works published prior to 1978 is based on the number of years since publication.
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Old 03-04-2018, 05:51 PM   #7
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German courts aren't the only ones seeking to enforce local laws worldwide.
French, Canadian, and American courts have made similar rulings.

In the case of the US, Microsoft has driven the matter to the Supreme Court.

https://www.wired.com/story/us-vs-mi...urt-case-data/

Expect plenty more crossborder conflicts like these.
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Old 03-04-2018, 06:08 PM   #8
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German courts aren't the only ones seeking to enforce local laws worldwide.
French, Canadian, and American courts have made similar rulings.

In the case of the US, Microsoft has driven the matter to the Supreme Court.

https://www.wired.com/story/us-vs-mi...urt-case-data/

Expect plenty more crossborder conflicts like these.
Gutenberg's argument attempts to legally distinguish them from Microsoft and other cases.

They claim that they are different from Microsoft because the latter do business in Ireland and the US, and have physical presences in both. As such, they are subject to the laws of both. Whereas Gutenberg has no presence or operations in Germany; they're a purely American institution, albeit one that is connected to the Internet.

There's also no evidence that any German has actually downloaded these materials; the court sought the logs of such downloads from Gutenberg in order to assess damages, but Gutenberg does not keep such personally identifying info per their stated policy.

It'll be interesting to see how those arguments play in the appellate court.
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Old 03-04-2018, 06:12 PM   #9
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I don't think it is awareness they are raising, but protection against further action. The article is an interesting read and answers the question with (bold mine):
That's the public statement, but it'd be simple enough to enforce those as the claims arrive; they already handle ongoing claims regularly in (non-German) cases where dates were mistaken and copyright claims are filed.

We'll see what happens if they lose on appeal; I suspect that they'll find a way to allow the German people access to most of the rest of their library once the publicity value of the global block has run its course. I don't blame them for this at all, BTW; it's smart strategy.
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Old 03-04-2018, 07:36 PM   #10
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We'll see what happens if they lose on appeal; I suspect that they'll find a way to allow the German people access to most of the rest of their library once the publicity value of the global block has run its course. I don't blame them for this at all, BTW; it's smart strategy.
Or maybe they'll just keep on blocking all germans.
It's not as if anybody anywhere has a right to access Gutenberg.

They can argue that the books are posted for americans and they are legal for americans and that they are not obliged to enforce German law at their expense. That it is up to the german citizens to know what is and isn't legal for them to do.

They do have the option to go hardcore all tbe way.

Last edited by fjtorres; 03-04-2018 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 03-04-2018, 07:45 PM   #11
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I hope this is fake news but fear it is not.

Can anyone check for us how difficult it really is to get to www.gutenberg.org from Germany?

This situation has considerable similarity to the successful attempt to get Random House to pay the estate of Joseph Goebbels for quotations used in serious non-fiction. Many posters here (but not me) thought it was just fine to expect English language publishers to respect German Life + 70 in that instance:

https://www.mobileread.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=259324


Because Gutenberg.org wants to distribute entire books, rather than just quotations, the moral case for the defendants is weaker than in the earlier dispute. Now, I took the freedom to quote, and read, side in the other thread, and I am taking it here.

As for the web aspect, Project Gutenberg is wrong to cooperate with the German government by what amounts to self-censorship. Gutenberg should immediately remove code attempting to stop its site from being seen in Germany. If it is serious about this, Germany can then bear all the cost and opprobrium of constructing the great firewall of central Europe.

Last edited by SteveEisenberg; 03-04-2018 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 03-05-2018, 01:25 AM   #12
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I hope this is fake news but fear it is not.
No fake news I can assure you. I am German and run into the block. That's actually how I became aware of the story. (According to some reports, the block only works with IPv4 addresses, but if you have an IPv6 address you still get through. But I don't think it's up to the user which type you get, is it?)

I think the Gutenberg folks are right in reacting the way they are. They're a small non-profit, and S. Fischer is Holtzbrinck, better known in the English-speaking world as Macmillan. Hence, no money vs. unlimited funds. And German courts always rule for Big Money.
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Old 03-05-2018, 02:50 AM   #13
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That's the public statement, but it'd be simple enough to enforce those as the claims arrive; they already handle ongoing claims regularly in (non-German) cases where dates were mistaken and copyright claims are filed.
No, I completely disagree. It is not a matter of simple or not simple. It is a matter of principle. You don't give in to terrorists that you don't believe are right.

Quote:
We'll see what happens if they lose on appeal; I suspect that they'll find a way to allow the German people access to most of the rest of their library once the publicity value of the global block has run its course. I don't blame them for this at all, BTW; it's smart strategy.
Absolutely not. In the case that PG loses on the highest level of appeal I hope they will flip them a bird and remove all restrictions including the 18 books in question. Good luck enforcing it.
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Old 03-05-2018, 03:12 AM   #14
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No, I completely disagree. It is not a matter of simple or not simple. It is a matter of principle. You don't give in to terrorists that you don't believe are right.
I think we're in agreement; I'm just saying that the decision to block everything is tactical, not technical. I'm saying they could fairly easily block just those works required, not that they should.

If you read their full page, they say in so many words that they're “caving” in the short term and blocking everything until the appeal is over in large part because the appellate court would be more prone to reject their arguments out of hand if they completely ignore the lower court ruling. They want the chance to make their case on its merits before the appellate court, and hopefully win on the merits.

But the implication is that they'll revisit that choice in favor of the best long-term policy once the higher court has ruled.
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Old 03-05-2018, 03:15 AM   #15
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I just went there and found this message:
Quote:
Problems with Blocking Access
March 2 2018: There are some problems with the automated software used to prevent abuse of the Web site (mainly to prevent mass downloads from hurting site performance for everyone else). Unfortunately the systems staff will not be available until Monday, to apply fixes. Meanwhile, it appears that downloads of epub and mobi (Kindle) formatted eBooks is triggering blocks. The HTML ("Read this book online") links seem to work better. Apologies for this problem. We hope it will be fixed early in the week of March 5.
So maybe part of it is a glitch in the software from an encoding error.
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