Greg Newby at Wired Next Fest: Project Gutenberg is back available in Germany

Greg Newby at Wired Next Fest: Project Gutenberg is back available in Germany

Greg Newby at Wired Next Fest

It will happen by mid-October: the director of the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, Greg Newby, said it for the first time in public at the Wired Next Fest. The kidnapping continues in Italy

Greg Newby at Wired Next Fest 2021 (photo: Wired) Positive news for the distribution of online culture. The Gutenberg Project, which for fifty years has made thousands and thousands of books not subject to copyright restrictions available online for free, is no longer under seizure in Germany. For German citizens, it will therefore be available again shortly, roughly in a couple of weeks: to give the news in absolute preview, during the final day of the Wired Next Fest 2021, was Greg Newby, director of the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation (Pglaf) .

The subject of the discord with German justice, which had determined a block on active access for a very long time, were 18 digitized volumes no longer subject to copyright according to US law (where the Gutenberg Project formally based), but still copyrighted under German law. And those few books determined a long judicial process, at the end of which the Gutenberg Project was found guilty and therefore suspended.

Now, however, a compromise agreement has been reached: "I can say in absolute preview that we have found a way to end the blockade, and that Project Gutenberg will be back online in Germany, Newby said. Those 18 books of discord will continue to be out of reach, but a deal has been struck to open up everything else. We will be operational as soon as some technical checks have been completed to ensure that the blocked books are really unreachable to those who connect from Germany ”.

Greg Newby at the Wired Next Fest 2021 (photo: Wired) In short, excellent news just as the Gutenberg Project is celebrating its first half century of life, after starting just a couple of years after the creation of Arpanet. Fifty years in which the internet itself has profoundly changed, and new digital formats and ways of consulting texts have also established themselves. "The distribution of free content is one of the original missions of the internet - added Newby -. But some of the founding ideas of the web have been misrepresented and distorted: still in the mid-nineties there was the idea that the internet was a place for free content and free communication. But then things changed: today the internet experience is more like shopping, and if the original spirit of the internet was to be disintermediated, now it is no longer so ".

No news for the 'Italy

Meanwhile, the Gutenberg Project for Italy remains under an unspecified seizure. As we told in a dedicated in-depth study, the only way to access remains via a vpn or the Tor browser, and at the moment there is not even a glimpse of the possibility that something could change.

“There has never been any official communication from the Italian authorities regarding the Gutenberg Project ”, underlined Newby during his speech at the Wired Next Fest. "In fact, access is blocked, but we have not understood much of the situation and we do not know exactly what is happening. If you try to connect directly to the site there is a blocking communication that refers to piracy, but as far as we know we do not have any pirated content, and vice versa we notice that there are many pirated sites that are accessible online from Italy " . But not much can be done about it. "After consultation with our lawyers - continued Newby - we found that the fact that we are based in the United States does not allow us to bring legal action in Italy, unless we make some passages of jurisdiction that we do not currently feel comfortable with. to face ".

In short, in our country nothing moves (with the approximately one thousand volumes in Italian present in the digital library that actually remain to collect the digital dust), and the meager consolation is that just beyond of our national borders a solution has been found. However, Newby did not spare the criticism of the copyright institute itself for how it is implemented today: "The current global situation is that copyright works more as something restrictive than a stimulus to the creation of new products, betraying its mission. which was to encourage the production of artistic content ”, he reiterated.

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