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My Wishlist. All Rights Reserved. Why is that an issue, and is it settled? A: Plaintiff has not provided sufficient documentation to support their claim that they are the exclusive owner or licensee of copyrights for the 18 items. In fact, some of the licensing agreements presented to the Court were signed after the lawsuit was filed!
The Court allowed multiple iterations by the Plaintiff to try to improve on the insufficient documentation, including hearings, to prove they are actually a rights-holder. Irregularities and gaps remain, and will be revisited during the appeal. There are at least two major concerns. One is that the original printed books were published between and , sometimes by other companies that were subsequently acquired by Plaintiff.
Plaintiff has never produced evidence of continuous ownership of the rights, to those original printed books that Project Gutenberg digitized. Or, that the "community of heirs" the English translation referring to the family of the authors duly inherited the rights, and can thereby assign them to the Plaintiff. The Court did not require demonstration of rights at the outset of the lawsuit, and PGLAF is not convinced that Plaintiff actually has rights to any of the 18 items, including rights for eBooks as opposed to printed books. The second major concern is that the Project Gutenberg eBooks were, for some of the 18 items, published by Project Gutenberg prior to the rights contracts that Plaintiff presented.
And, in any event, all were published by PG long after those items had lost copyright protection in the US, and therefore rights were owned in the US by the American people that is the definition of "public domain". 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. 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. The amount is not yet known. Q: Why block PG's entire collection, rather than just those 18 books?
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. PGLAF is a small volunteer organization, with no income it doesn't sell anything other than donations.
There is every reason to fear that this huge corporation, with the backing of the German Court, will continue to take legal action.
In fact, at least one other similar complaint arrived in about different books in the Project Gutenberg collection, from another company in Germany. Project Gutenberg's focus is to make as much of the world's literature available as possible, to as many people as possible.
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But it is, and always has been, entirely US-based, and entirely operating within the copyright laws of the US. Blocking Germany, in an effort to forestall further legal actions, seems the best way to protect the organization and retain focus on its mission. Q: The plaintiff is S. Is that the international conglomerate? A: Yes, it is part of a family of companies all under single ownership and control or majority stakeholdership, from Germany, reaching around the world.
Readers in the US know this as Macmillan, which is one of the largest publishers in the US by revenue, and owns many familiar imprints.
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The companies eventually settled the antitrust claims, including by giving credits to customers who had overpaid for eBooks. Plaintiff declined. Alternatively, international treaties - notably the Berne Convention and related treaties - provide mediation processes through the World Intellectual Property Organization. International treaties explicitly and unambiguously support PGLAF's legal guidance as described above: that the copyright status in one country is not impacted or enforceable or otherwise relevant in other countries.
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