French officials call Project Gutenberg archive, 15 million ebooks, Grateful Dead recordings and Prelinger Archive "terrorism," demands removal from Internet Archive

In the past week, the French government's L'Office Central de Lutte contre la Criminalité liée aux Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication (OCLCTIC) have sent 500 "terrorism" takedown demands to the Internet Archive demanding the removal of tens of millions of works: the entire archive of Project Gutenberg; an archive of 15 million texts, the entire Grateful Dead archive, the Prelinger Archive of public domain industrial films (much beloved by the MTV generation as they were the source of the channels classic interstitial animations), and the Archive's collection of recordings from CSPAN.

The takedowns come in just as the EU is getting ready to vote on a proposal that will force platforms to remove "terrorist" content within one hour or face censorship through national firewalls, fines, and criminal sanctions.

Even if it was possible for the Internet Archive to sift through tens of millions of documents in a collection targeted by one of these takedowns in one hour to figure out if the takedown notice is valid, the timezone problem means that they would have to be ready to do this in the middle of the night in San Francisco, when the EU agencies most typically send their demands.

Even without this absurd law, the situation is dire. The French authorities gave the Internet Archive 24 hours to comply with its demand or face a nationwide block.

Update: The Internet Archive offers this correction: CORRECTION: This post previously identified the sender of the 550 falsely identified URLs as Europol's EU Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU). The sender was in fact, the French national Internet Referral Unit, using Europol's application, which sends the email from an address. The EU IRU has informed us that it is not involved in the national IRUs' assessment criteria of terrorist content.

And, as the Archive explains, there's simply no way that (1) the site could have complied with the Terrorist Content Regulation had it been law last week when they received the notices, and (2) that they should have blocked all that obviously non-terrorist content.

The Internet Archive has a few staff members that process takedown notices from law enforcement who operate in the Pacific time zone. Most of the falsely identified URLs mentioned here (including the report from the French government) were sent to us in the middle of the night – between midnight and 3am Pacific – and all of the reports were sent outside of the business hours of the Internet Archive.

The one-hour requirement essentially means that we would need to take reported URLs down automatically and do our best to review them after the fact.

It would be bad enough if the mistaken URLs in these examples were for a set of relatively obscure items on our site, but the EU IRU's lists include some of the most visited pages on and materials that obviously have high scholarly and research value.

EU Tells Internet Archive That Much Of Its Site Is 'Terrorist Content' [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]