A must for (almost)...

A must for (almost) all bloggers: the imprint  

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The imprint is probably the page of a blog that hardly anyone reads. But if it's missing, it can be quite uncomfortable for a Blogger. Because without a correct imprint warnings and fines of up to 50 000 euros. Although there is no network police who systematically scan Blogs for misconduct. This role has been taken over by so-called warning lawyers, who have discovered this area as extremely lucrative. An imprint should therefore always be the first Text you put on your new Blog. We give you tips on what you need to pay attention to when creating a correct imprint and which pitfalls you should avoid.

The legal notice obligation for websites has been in place since 1997. the primary aim is consumer protection: every user should be able to clearly identify who is behind an Online offer. In addition, the imprint should offer competitors the opportunity to inform themselves. Since 2007, the legal notice obligation has been regulated by the Telemedia act (TMG) and the state Treaty on broadcasting and Telemedia (RStV). Decisive are the paragraphs §5 TMG and § 55 RStV.

Of course, the owner of a Domain can also be identified via the so-called whois database (Denic is responsible for the .de Domain). But this is not enough as a source of information. Because firstly, many people are not aware of this possibility and secondly, it may well happen that the owner of a website and the provider of the content on this site are not identical. In other words: only through the imprint is it clear who is the responsible contact person.

What is the situation with Blogs?
Blogs moved for a long time in a legal gray area because it was not clear which category they fall into. Or: many bloggers saw themselves outside, because they do not run a classic website. However, it is now clear that the existing laws also apply to Blogs. And thus the imprint obligation exists for most Blogs.

Only Blogs that "exclusively serve personal or family purposes"are excluded. These may be set anonymously on the net. From a legal point of view, this is private communication, even if it goes beyond pure telecommunications.

If your target group are not only friends and family, but a larger audience, but you do not run your Blog business-wise, the "limited imprint obligation"applies to you according to §55 RSTV. You only have to name and address, you can do without phone number and mail address.

Bloggers as media entrepreneurs?
For all other bloggers, the "comprehensive imprint obligation applies for providers of commercial, usually for a fee offered Telemedia" (§5 TMG). This sounds more like running a Pay TV station than a Blog. In fact, however, the comprehensive imprint obligation applies to the majority of bloggers. Because no subscription fees or similar have to be collected for "businesslike"-there are enough advertising banners or other forms of advertising on your Blog.

It does not matter if and how much money you make with it – it is only the intention that counts. Business conduct applies in principle to tradesmen, freelancers, self-employed persons and companies. Here, it is simply assumed from the outset that the website or Blog is not operated for selfless pleasure, but with a business objective.

The requirements are even stricter if your Blog is a journalistic-editorial offer. This is where the RSTV comes into play again: it states that a responsible person with an indication of the name and address is to be named for corresponding offers, whereby the responsible person must, among other things, have his permanent residence in Germany and be fully capable of doing business.

The question remains what exactly a "journalistic-editorial offer" is. In the law, this is not really clearly regulated. Indications can be, for example, the topicality, the influence on public opinion formation or the interest of an affected person in a correction – a Blog with regular (critical) reports from your district would therefore clearly be an editorial offer.

The best tip is probably to always play it safe in case of doubt and to choose a more comprehensive imprint variant to protect you from warnings.

What belongs in an imprint?
So far the different stages of the imprint obligation. Still missing, which information must be contained at least in a comprehensive imprint. According to § 5TMG and § 55 RStV,:

A full first and last name;
The complete postal address;
An E-Mail Address;
Job-specific information (important for certain professional groups such as lawyers);
Depending on the Blog, the already mentioned extended information may also be added. The linksandlaw website provides a detailed overview of the entire requirements with regard to the imprint in the section "imprint obligation explained".

How do I get a correct imprint?
Just a few years ago, the method Copy & Paste was often used for the imprint. Something like that sometimes backfires and is now also completely superfluous. Because there are far better, simple and free methods to get an individual imprint for his Blog. Imprint-generators make it possible. Where you can find these generators and how you use them, we have explained You in detail in a tutorial on how to create an imprint for Blogs.

The bigger and more professional your Blog project is, the more recommendable it is not to rely on the free version, but to let you create a really individual imprint with the help of a lawyer.

Why is the imprint often missing anyway?
So far the legal situation. Actually, by the numerous reports on warning waves also against bloggers should be clear to most blog operators by now, how important an imprint is. Nevertheless, there are still numerous pages on which a complete imprint is missing. Sometimes this happens out of ignorance, sometimes out of negligence and in the hope that you won't notice it in the big WWW.

But there are also bloggers who consciously decide against a (correct) imprint. Because, for example, you are afraid of being spammed when you post your e-mail address in the Blog. Or they fear harassment by phone or email.

So what to do? Fortunately, there are now thorough filters against spam. The problem of possible harassment, however, is more difficult to solve. Sure, as soon as you venture into the public eye with such information, you must expect reactions and questions to come. As a Blogger you would also like to have them, but please not too private. Unfortunately, there is no patent solution: in principle, everyone has to gain their own experience. The fact is that in the case of a case, only a correct imprint is waterproof – many of the tips circulating on the net unfortunately do not meet this criterion.

And where to go with the imprint?
It is best to adhere strictly to the guidelines in order not to offer any attack points. It is important not only that the imprint is complete, but also where it can be found. According to the law, the imprint must be "easily recognizable, immediately accessible and constantly available". So it's not enough to put it small and hidden in the Footer.

The imprint must be placed in such a way that users do not have to search for it first. A maximum of two clicks - the imprint should never be further away, no matter where a user is currently on the page, is the basic rule.

Most bloggers therefore create their own page for the imprint and then link to this page from all other pages. Of course, there are other variants that are permitted. In addition, it plays a role in which environment a Blog is embedded.

So far our tips around the imprint. The experts among you could probably say much, much more now, but we were first interested in an introduction to the topic. Please note that our tips do not replace legal advice. If you are unsure, be sure to talk to an expert so that you are really on the safe side!

Posted : February 2, 2020 7:49 pm