Italian Public Prosecutor Says Project Gutenberg's Collection Of Public Domain Books Must Be Blocked For Copyright Infringement

from the protecting-the-copyright-of-dante? dept

Back in 2013, we made clear our concerns with the Italian communications watchdog AGCOM setting up new administrative copyright enforcement powers that would allow them to simply up and declare sites to be infringing, at which point ISPs would be ordered to block websites. Soon after that Italy's public prosecutor seemed to decided that part of his job was also to order websites blocked based solely on the public prosecutor's say so.

In the latest such order from the Public Prosecutor's office declaring a list of sites to be infringing, apparently Italy has decided that the famous and wonderful Project Gutenberg website, which is a repository of public domain books, must be blocked. I don't know about the other 27 sites listed in the order, but Project Gutenberg is no piracy site. Yet here it is at number 25 on the list:

They even go to the trouble of looking up the whois info. You would think that maybe someone would recognize that a site founded in 1996 maybe is not a giant piracy site:

The Italian Library Association is asking what the fuck is going on (translation via Google Translate):

As everyone knows, Project Gutenberg promotes the widest dissemination and knowledge of the registered cultural memory. For years it has been hosted by large universities that made their servers available, before becoming an autonomous organization, one of the main of this type and inspiring model for many other similar ones (such as the Manutius Project in Italy), mainly supported by work. of many volunteers. We reiterate that it is one of the most qualified projects on the net, with a large amount of documents accessible for free in compliance with the US Copyright Act, because it is in the USA that it is based: they are works in the public domain, out of rights because they have always been public domain (such as the Bible) or because the maximum terms of duration of copyright have passed.

Seeing the Gutenberg Project linked to a whole series of domains that contain pirated editorial materials for commercial purposes causes bewilderment and disapproval in the world of libraries.

It appears that neither the Italian Public Prosecutor nor the Court even attempted to contact Project Gutenberg which only found out about it after a visitor to the site in Italy made them aware of it:

And, if you want to understand how this happened -- which also might raise some huge questions about how the public prosecutor's office works -- it appears that they were monitoring some Telegram private channels, and saw someone there link to some pirate sites and link to Project Gutenberg, and rather than, you know, investigate, they just decided to ban the entire list. Pretty incredible that they'd look up the whois, but apparently not check out the actual website. Because of copyright, apparently, they must censor all.

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Filed Under: censorship, copyright, culture, due process, italy, public domain, site blocking, takedowns
Companies: project gutenberg


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  1. identicon
    Wisdom teller, 3 Jun 2020 @ 5:12pm

    Completely OK

    that killings of humans remains banned in Germany.

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