Thursday, April 11, 2019

EU Declares Project Gutenberg Terrorist Material, Demands Removal

In what will in no doubt spread to other archives, European Union agencies have declared much of the Internet Archive as terrorist material, including Project Gutenberg, which hosted a large collection of public domain works. I say hosted, as, at the moment of writing, Project Gutenberg is now unavailable worldwide. From Tech Dirt:
We've been trying to explain for the past few months just how absolutely insane the new EU Terrorist Content Regulation will be for the internet. Among many other bad provisions, the big one is that it would require content removal within one hour as long as any "competent authority" within the EU sends a notice of content being designated as "terrorist" content. The law is set for a vote in the EU Parliament just next week. 
And as if they were attempting to show just how absolutely insane the law would be for the internet, multiple European agencies (we can debate if they're "competent") decided to send over 500 totally bogus takedown demands to the Internet Archive last week, claiming it was hosting terrorist propaganda content.
In the past week, the Internet Archive has received a series of email notices from Europol’s European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) falsely identifying hundreds of URLs on as “terrorist propaganda”. At least one of these mistaken URLs was also identified as terrorist content in a separate take down notice from the French government’s L’Office Central de Lutte contre la Criminalité liée aux Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication (OCLCTIC).
And just in case you think that maybe the requests are somehow legit, they are so obviously bogus that anyone with a browser would know they are bogus. Included in the list of takedown demands are a bunch of the Archive's "collection pages" including the entire Project Gutenberg page of public domain texts, it's collection of over 15 million freely downloadable texts, the famed Prelinger Archive of public domain films and the Archive's massive Grateful Dead collection. Oh yeah, also a page of CSPAN recordings. So much terrorist content!
We will see what returns and how Project Gutenberg deals with the claims against it. What is likely is that a number of rare science fiction, fantasy, pulp, and history books have now become more difficult to find.

Update: This EU claim on the Internet Archive just gets worse. Pubmed, Arxiv (scientific papers), the Smithsonian, Voice of America, CSPAN, genealogies...

Second Update: While Project Gutenberg's Internet Archive woes continue, we are pleased to hear from the site that their site issues are technical, not legal.
"April 11 2019: One of our main servers is having problems, and eBooks are temporarily not available. This should be fixed later today (US Eastern time). Typical errors are, "Error reading from remote server." Apologies for this temporary service outage."


  1. Back online now.

    Roll your own Gutenberg Project for CD or DVD in case of future EU shenanigans:

    The Gutenberg CD and DVD Project

  2. The EU is not concerned with combating "terrorism", but with exercising control and once and for all to prevent freedom of expression. Thought Police a la "1984". Orwell at its best. (It is not possible to go to the Gutenberg project from Germany.)