May 17, 2022

Court Order Blocks Access to Project Gutenberg in Germany

From a Post on an Info Page on The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation:

  • 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.
    • 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 wants the 18 eBooks [listed on the web page] to no longer be accessible, at least from Germany. It also seeks punitive damages and fines.
  • Based on legal advice from its US attorneys, PGLAF declined to remove or block 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 judgement granting essentially all of the Plaintiff’s demands.
  • PGLAF complied with the Court’s order on February 28, 2018 by blocking all access to and sub-pages to all of Germany.

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation web page also includes 18 questions asked and answered (about 2000 words) and links to more information.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.