It's common knowledge that rights holders are scouring file sharing networks for TV shows, Hollywood blockbusters and pop albums to fight against infringement. A list of works that have attracted lots of attention from lawyers in Germany reveals an unusual trend: More and more publishing houses fight infringement of literary works, suing file sharers that trade audio books and PDFs. These lawsuits seem to have targeted a work that's been in the public domain for years in at least one case.

German P2P activists have been compiling lists with files that can get you in trouble in file sharing networks. These lists so far feature remarkably little Hollywood fare, but a lot of pop music, especially from German musicians, quite a bit of mostly German porn and also various PC games.

German publishing houses seem to catch up with the rest of the entertainment industry though. File sharing users increasingly get sued for swapping audio books like Dan Brown's Illuminati and Ken Follett's The Third Twin. Users sharing ebooks are also under increased scrutiny. C&D letters have reportedly been sent out for books from Stephen King, Dan Brown and Alan Carr.

One reported case is particularly notable. A notorious German law office apparently sued a file sharer for a copy of the Edgar Wallace novel "The Blue Hand". The book was published in 1925, seven years before Wallace died. German copyright law only protects works up until 70 years after the authors death, which means Wallace's books became part of the public domain in 2002. In fact, Project Gutenberg lists a couple of his books as free downloads.

A number of German law offices has been offering rights holders in recent years to hunt down and sue file sharers. Lawsuits like these are quite lucrative in Germany: Cease and desist notices are routinely combined with invoices ranging from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars, and certain law offices are know for sending out thousands of these letters.

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