Translating judgments – Project Gutenberg blocks German users

Following a dispute on copyright between Project Gutenberg in the USA and S. Fischer Verlag – German copyright still covers some works by Thomas Mann, Heinrich Mann and Alfred Döblin, but they are in the public domain in the USA – the Frankfurt am Main Regional Court (Landgericht) has ordered Project Gutenberg to block access to 18 texts to users in Germany, following which Project Gutenberg has blocked all access to Project Gutenberg in Germany, as Chris Meadows on TeleRead reports:

Project Gutenberg blocks German users after court rules in favor of Holtzbrinck subsidiary

Here’s a better summary than mine: Court Order to block access in Germany.

This case has been going on for a while and there will presumably be an appeal.

Incidentally, there is a German Projekt Gutenberg, run by Spiegel Online, which is not involved here and which I am sure complies with German copyright law.

At all events, the articles quoted give links to the original judgment and the English translation. I don’t think we often see such a good chance to comment on translating judgments (I’ve done much more translating of decisions than of contracts over the years) so in a separate post I will comment on the translation.

4 thoughts on “Translating judgments – Project Gutenberg blocks German users

  1. Thank goodness our ‘favourite’ Dr. Alfred Döblin work of Berlin Alexanderplatz hasn’t been hit by the copyright ban that, surely, still leaves users in Germany free to download and enjoy the film adaptations of the novels caught up in the Project Gutenberg dispute:

    Heinrich Mann:
    Professor Unrat turned into der blaue Engel/The Blue Angel starring Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings
    Der Untertan/Man of Straw that gave (Sir) Derek Jacobi his first big break on British TV and, according to our German-born university lecturers at the time in 1972, betrayed his German roots.

    Thomas Mann:
    Der Tod in Venedig/Death in Venice starring Dirk Bogarde and Björn Andrésen.
    Die Buddenbrooks, starring Armin Müller-Stahl, and preferably combined with a visit to Buddenbrooks House – Literary Museum in Lübeck.

    Otherwise, in unwell-earned retirement as an erstwhile ‘Authorized Proxy’, I will leave – to your goodself, Margaret, and others – the Americanised terminology of the English translation of the judgment.

  2. What’s the situation in Austria, Adrian? I mean, it’s not a question of Germans not being able to download these minor Döblin texts that happen to be available, for whatever reason, in the USA. It’s more a case of everyone in Germany losing access to all the non-German books they would otherwise go to Project Gutenberg for. As for Berlin Alexanderplatz, as far as I know no one can yet access it as a free download anywhere, so no change there.

    Congratulations on your retirement and thanks for your cinematic reports.

  3. Yes. I take your blanket Germany-lockout point, Margaret, albeit is fragmentary: ‘Sperre lückenhaft’
    – and doesn’t, in fact or in fiction, apply to other German-speaking countries, like Austria where, for instance, I have now established on the Project’s website that Heinrich Mann’s Untertan can in a jiffy be heruntergeladen – or should I say: im Nu heruntergetan.

  4. I will not pursue this line of enquiry because I scarcely find time to write what I actually meant to write about, that is, the translation of the judgment!

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