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Old 03-05-2018, 10:25 PM   #31
SteveEisenberg
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I would suggest they simply spin off a part of PG that is US geo restricted by blocking everybody else, and put all questionable new releases in as they enter public domain in the US.
I guess I'm at fault for having oversimplified. It's not really true that The Murder on the Links will only be public domain, in the US, next January. For example, according to Wikipedia:

-- Colombia is Life + 80
-- Yemen is Life + 30
-- Eritrea is 50 years after publication
-- The Marshall Islands doesn't have copyright

Smaller countries don't count? In my opinion, that would be unprincipled. Blocking, say, Yemen -- or South Korea -- just because it's a pain to differentiate it from Europe, would be disrespectful to their readers. Also, bigger countries may have more complex laws having exceptions only found in case law. In order to really say that a book is, or is not, in the public domain, in even one foreign country, would take a long legal analysis by someone familiar with how to do legal research in that nation. It might even be that there's no real way to know a nation's policy, on old-book copyright, without a court case.

By giving in to the German courts, and blocking their site in Germany, even temporarily, Project Gutenberg is going down an impractical road.
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Old 03-06-2018, 12:55 AM   #32
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I see no reason why Gutenberg needs to go to the trouble and expense of dual sites.
One open site operating by US law has served them fine for decades. Nobody gets excluded unless their government volunteers them to be blocked. They can post an online signup sheet for the governments asking to be blocked.
That much they can do at minimal cost.

Alternatively, they can block everybody outside the US and its territories.
One time move, all conflicts resolved.
Anybody wanting access from outside can get their own IP spoofing VPN.

Either way works.
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Old 03-06-2018, 01:29 AM   #33
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Do you really believe this, or are you exaggerating for effect?

A German court did rule for the Goebbels estate over Random House in 2015.
Well, of course I was exaggerating. Though the Goebbels case must have been very hard for the poor judges, since they had to decide between Big Money and old Nazi heirs from banker stock, both groups dear to a German judge's hearts. So that time the second, older love won out, probably out of pity because the old Nazi daughter's claims*) were so dodgy anyway.

According to his own diary, Goebbels himself had sold the rights to his diaries to the Nazi party's publishing house in 1936. He received 250,000 Reichsmarks at once and 100,000 yearly - five times his minister's salary. After the end of the Third Reich, the state of Bavaria became the rightful owner of the copyright, just like for Hitler's Mein Kampf, but for some reason they never enforced it. In 1955 some Goebbels relatives sold the rights to Goebbels' works (which they never had for the diaries) to a Swiss banker and Nazi, who successfully claimed copyright from then on. Never underestimate old Nazi allegiances in the German judicial system.

Source for my short summary (in German, unfortunately):
https://www.welt.de/geschichte/zweit...ebuechern.html

EDIT: A footnote.
*) Cordula Schacht, daughter of former Nazi Reichsbank president Hjalmar Schacht, who represented the estate of the Swiss Nazi banker who had bought the rights to Goebbels' works in 1955.

EDIT: I had originally written that Goebbels had sold the rights to all his works. But he only sold the rights to his diaries. I have corrected that, and added that this fact is according to his own diary entry. The contracts were lost, unfortunately, and that is probably how that horrible Swiss Nazi banker, Francois Genoud, managed to cash in on them for decades.

Last edited by doubleshuffle; 03-06-2018 at 07:08 AM.
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Old 03-06-2018, 06:42 AM   #34
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Bavaria became the rightful owner of the copyright, just like for Hitler's Mein Kampf, but for some reason they never enforced it.
As for Mein Kampf, there is no need to enforce the copyright as it continues to stay illegal to publish / print in Germany even now that the copyright is expired.

Sorry, also in German only:
http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/gesells...a-1068642.html
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Old 03-06-2018, 06:58 AM   #35
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As for Mein Kampf, there is no need to enforce the copyright as it continues to stay illegal to publish / print in Germany even now that the copyright is expired.
In Germany, it's indeed illegal to re-print the original book, however, in 2016, the IFZ (Institute for Contemporary History) published a scholarly edition in Germany.
For more information (in English) see the IFZ website.
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Old 03-06-2018, 09:16 AM   #36
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In any case, regardless of whether it's for purposes of contract law or copyright, web sites that deal in media restricted by region have shown it's possible to geo-block by region. The geo-blocking isn't completely effective and can be easily circumvented by those who know how--but then, DRM on ebooks, movies, etc. isn't completely effective either and can also be easily circumvented by those who know how, yet the publishers and studios still clamor for it.

In that light, I predict courts are going to be a lot more likely to say, "Well? If you can geo-block, then why aren't you?"
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Old 03-06-2018, 10:39 AM   #37
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from my ip provider in serbia only html & Plain Text UTF-8 is available, epub and mobi links are blocked.
--------
March 5 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). A set of fixes were applied, and there are still some unintentional blocks. These seem to mainly impact downloads of epub and mobi (Kindle) formatted eBooks. The HTML ("Read this book online") links seem to work better. Apologies for this problem. We will continue to apply fixes and updates.
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Old 03-06-2018, 10:51 AM   #38
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I'm now impressed with the lack of action by Harper-Collins in regards to the Canadian public domain sites offering C. S. Lewis titles for download.

And given the number of cheap versions to be found on amazon.ca the copyright holder for the early Wodehouse books seems to have conceded the field.
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:30 AM   #39
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Quote:
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In any case, regardless of whether it's for purposes of contract law or copyright, web sites that deal in media restricted by region have shown it's possible to geo-block by region. The geo-blocking isn't completely effective and can be easily circumvented by those who know how--but then, DRM on ebooks, movies, etc. isn't completely effective either and can also be easily circumvented by those who know how, yet the publishers and studios still clamor for it.

In that light, I predict courts are going to be a lot more likely to say, "Well? If you can geo-block, then why aren't you?"
"Because no law says I have to. Please cite one that applies to me."

Does gutenberg advertise in Germany?
Do they have local servers or proxy?
Is their website in german?
What presence do they have in germany?
They are not a commercial business.

They are actively doing nothing illegal.
It is the german citizens who are (maybe) violating copyright.

If Holtzbrink has an issue with an American company operating in american territory, sue in the US.
They don't because they'd lose.
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Old 03-06-2018, 11:57 AM   #40
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According to the court's judgement (which you can read here in English and of course in German) there's no need to prove that the PG site targeted German users, merely that the books were still under copyright in Germany and had been made available there.

They go on however to argue that it was targeting German users because:
  • parts of the site are in German
  • German language works are available
  • the PG License bolierplate put at the top of every book uses the phrase "anyone anywhere"
  • the fact that PG issues a disclaimer about checking local laws means they are aware users in other countries will download them

(see page 10 of the linked doc)

Anyway, those are the court's arguments.

I would think that if intent is indeed not a factor, merely availability and protected status, then the big issue becomes jurisdiction. The court seems to think not only can it claim jurisdiction but that it will be able to enforce it.

And by geo-blocking the site, even pending appeal, PG would seem to be lending some weight to that.
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Old 03-06-2018, 01:40 PM   #41
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And by geo-blocking the site, even pending appeal, PG would seem to be lending some weight to that.
I hope not. As mentioned above, they are just trying to avoid looking like they don't care what the court says, because that can turn the court against them. It is not an admission that they believe that the activity is wrong in the first place.
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Old 03-06-2018, 02:50 PM   #42
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They have no other choice, as they would be hit by DMCA order if they've failed to comply.
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Old 03-06-2018, 03:27 PM   #43
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There's this tendency people have of treating stuff on the Internet as if it happens in some far-away nebulous Internet-land, above the paltry concerns of real-world law enforcement. But as this decision shows, that's not really the case.

It wasn't necessary for Project Gutenberg to have servers or advertising in Germany. It's making books available in Germany, just as surely as if it sat just outside the German borders and flung paper copies over the wall by catapult. It's nothing new for file downloads to be treated as if they happened locally to where the downloading computer is; that's why Amazon can't sell particular ebooks in Germany unless they have licensed the right to sell those books there, even if they're selling them strictly from servers in the USA (and even if they could sell paper editions of those same books to German customers from warehouses in the USA).

Why should the German publisher have to go to the expense of traveling all the way to America to litigate against this? The harm to that publisher's German sales is happening in Germany.

It might be different if this were a matter having to do with an American website offering materials that went against a foreign country's religious or moral codes, because America has the freedom of speech that many repressive regimes do not. (And, indeed, most repressive regimes that might be inclined to make that kind of trouble have instead implemented their own national "Great Firewalls," so they don't have to rely on something as potentially chancy as enforcement overseas of a local court opinion.)

But this is a matter pertaining to copyright, as codified by international treaties to which both Germany and the USA are signatories. This isn't a freedom-of-speech matter, it's a copyright violation matter.

Given that commercial ebook stores had to start minding where they were selling starting in 2009, I'm just surprised it took so long for Project Gutenberg to come to a foreign rights-holder's attention. They had to realize it was going to happen sooner or later. They're going to have to start paying more attention to foreign publishers' requests to block availability of given books in their countries, and perhaps figure out some way of doing that cheaply and easily so such requests won't cost them as much in the future. Because this is surely going to happen more and more often as overseas ebook markets start to catch up with the USA's.
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Old 03-06-2018, 03:28 PM   #44
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Unfortunately for Project Gutenberg, the principle pretty much already is widely accepted. Commercial ebook stores aren't allowed to compete with local license holders.
{...}

Ironically, this is basically the same reason that Amazon blundered so badly so many years ago, when it removed Orwell books customers had purchased from their Kindles. The Orwell books were in the public domain in the UK, but not in the US, so their sale in the US was illegal--so Amazon overreacted and got its fingers burned.
The Orwell Kafuffle took place in 2009. Orwell died in 1950 so the books were copyright-free only in Life+50 countries such as Canada & Australia - the UK and the EU having traded up to Life+70

If someone runs a US publisher site which allows e-book sales world wide, can the UK publisher of the same book require them to install geographical restrictions on their servers?
If so, has this ever happened?
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Old 03-06-2018, 04:08 PM   #45
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Seems to me that if Germany wants to block its inhabitants from accessing something that is legal elsewhere, then it is Germany that needs to do the blocking.

It's kind of like China and their copying of US products (they copy other countries as well, I'm just using "US" here for ease of typing). China makes cheap imitations and sells them for less. Often times making their product look so superficially like the real product as to make it hard to tell the difference without close inspection. Do the US producers like that? Certainly not. But US laws against such behavior are not enforceable in China.

What if someone like North Korea decided that their people are not allowed to read books (they may have already done this - wouldn't surprise me). Does that mean that US eBook companies would have to block all North Korean IP addresses as a result? (Forget for the moment that very few in North Korea have internet access, and those that do, probably can't get outside of the North Korean infrastructure in the first place.)
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