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Domestic Child Sex Trafficking

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  • On December 30, 2015, PGLAF received notification that a lawsuit had been filed in Germany against it, and its CEO. The lawsuit was concerned with 18 eBooks, by three authors, which are part of the Project Gutenberg collection. The lawsuit was filed in the Frankfurt am Main Regional Court, in Germany.

  • The Plaintiff is S. Fischer Verlag, GmbH. Hedderichstrasse 114, 60956 Frankfurt am Main, Germany. They are represented by the law firm, Waldorf Frommer of Munich.

  • The essence of the lawsuit is that the Plaintiff demands the 18 eBooks to be removed from Project Gutenberg's servers. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages and fines.

  • Based on legal advice from its US attorneys, PGLAF declined to remove the items. The lawsuit proceeded, with a series of document filings by both sides, and hearings before the judges (all of which occurred in German, in the German court). PGLAF hired a German law firm, Wilde Beuger Solmecke, in Köln, to represent it in Germany.

  • On February 9 2018, the Court issued a judgment granting essentially most of the Plaintiff's demands. The Court did not order that the 18 items no longer be made available by Project Gutenberg, and instead wrote that it is sufficient to instead make them no longer accessible to German Internet (IP) addresses.

  • Court's original decision (in German).

  • Decision translated into English.

  • PGLAF complied with the Court's order on February 28, 2018 by blocking all access to www.gutenberg.org and sub-pages to all of Germany.

Discussion in the form of Q&A Q: What is Project Gutenberg's basic approach to international copyright issues? A: Please see our summary, which is based on decades of legal guidance and was verified as being correct by our US lawyers. Further items below build on those notions.


Q: Why didn't Project Gutenberg block access until the Court made its judgment? A: First, note that blocking was not demanded by the lawsuit, which explicitly said blocking was insufficient. The Plaintiff demanded they be removed, not blocked. The Court, however, deemed blocking to be sufficient. Regardless of the judgment, though, the issue of jurisdiction is the main concern. PGLAF's legal advisors disagree that any foreign Court or entity has jurisdiction over its actions regarding copyright. The Court in Germany has promoted a theory that it has jurisdiction, mainly because the www.gutenberg.org site has some content in the German language. The view of PGLAF is that it is up to the rights owner in Germany to identify people there who are infringing on its copyrights, and pursue remediation there. It is not up to PGLAF to police or defend the rights of entities in different countries. Because PGLAF operates as a legitimate non-profit organization, however, it is appropriate to act as the German Court ordered - pending appeal - even though it disagrees with the order.


  • Q: What does the judgment say must be done? Are there fines or penalties? A: The full judgment (original German, and translated into English) are linked above. Basically, the Court granted the Plaintiff's demands, with an important variation: Remove the 18 books, or at least make sure they are not available from Germany. PGLAF complied by blocking access to www.gutenberg.org for all of Germany. The important variation is that Plaintiff said explicitly that blocking items was not enough: they needed to be removed. The Court did not order removal, and allowed blocking as a remedy.

  • Provide a listing of all the downloads that have occurred for the 18 items, so that licensing fees or other fines may be assessed. PGLAF has already told the Court that no such records exist, because Web server logs are only maintained for approximately 2 months.

  • Pay Court costs, assessed at 50% of total costs. The amount is not yet known.

Q: Why block PG's entire collection, 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.


Q: I would like to make a donation, to help Project Gutenberg with legal expenses A: Donations are gratefully accepted! More information may be found at www.gutenberg.org/donate. One quick method is to make a Paypal donation to donate2019@pglaf.org. Note that PayPal does not always provide email addresses as donors, so you might not get an emailed response other than PayPal's notification that the donation was received. THANK YOU!


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Through the morning many cards were brought the Pope, but the doctors allowed no business. To amuse himself the Pope sent the judge into the sitting-room to listen to the million-dollar project of one sleek young man, and the judge reported:


Een vergelijkbaar Nederlandstalig project was het Project Laurens Jz Coster, (genoemd naar degene die eeuwenlang in Nederland gold als uitvinder van de boekdrukkunst). Na beëindiging in 2001 is dit project opgevolgd door de Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren. In Scandinavië is er het Project Runeberg. 041b061a72


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