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An imprint ( Latin imprint "Hineingedrücktes" or "Aufgedrücktes") is a legally required indication of origin in publications that contains information about the publisher , author , editor or editorial staff , primarily to identify those responsible for the content under press law . Additional information such as printer, frequency, year of publication and place of publication is also often given . Depending on the type of publication and the specific legal situation, additional information must or must also be included, for example on the publisher's tax situation or a review by the censors .

The imprint in the book


A Select Collection of Novels , English title page of a
collection of novels from 1722. Under the decorative strip is the imprint: “ London:
Printed for J. Watts; And Sold by W. Mears at the Lamb without Temple-Bar, J. Brotherton and W. Meadows at the Black-Bull in Cornhill, W. Chetwood in Russel-Street, Covent Garden, and J. Lacy at the Ship between two Temple -Gates, Fleet Street. MDCCXXII.

In early book printing , the traditional place of the imprint was still the foot of the title page of a book . Often a graphic element - a line, a bar of ornaments - delimited the imprint. It usually noted the place of publication , the publisher (sometimes with the shop address) and the year of publication . In addition, there was sometimes information about the printer (in English: printed by [printer] for [publisher] ), about booksellers who, in addition to the main publisher, had the title on offer and also information about a privilege , if the main publisher for the present book had obtained the protection of the sovereign against piracy .

Johann Lair , born in Sieglar (today Troisdorf-Sieglar) in 1476 , died in Siegburg in 1554 , also called John Siberch (derived from his place of residence in Siegburg), founded the university printing house in Cambridge (England) in 1520 . In 1521 he received his first print job: Oratio , the speech that Dr. Henry Bullock on the occasion of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey's visit to Cambridge. On this occasion there was an imprint in a book printing for the first time: Impressa per me Ioannem Siberch” .

In the volume A Select Collection of Novels from 1722 the imprint reads:

Printed for J. Watts ; And Sold by W. Mears at the Lamb
without Temple-Bar , J. Broterton and W. Meadows at
the Black-Bull in Cornhill , W. Chetwood in Russel-Street ,
Covent-Garden , and J. Lacy at the Ship between the
two Temple Gates , Fleet Street . MDCCXXII. "

London is the place of printing here, J. Watts is the main publisher, the other names are those of the business partners who share the wide circulation for joint sales. The shop addresses are given here with references to the emblems - “ Lamb ” (German: “Lamm”), “ Black-Bull ” (German: “Schwarze Bulle”), “ Ship ” (German: “Schiff”) - the shop signs, that hang over the shop doors in the noted streets. 1722 is the year of printing.

From the 16th century onwards, printers were required to provide a printer's note. The main purpose of this was to make the title more tangible for the customer, as it noted from which dealer the book could be obtained. In the case of cheap productions that were not sold in bookstores, imprint information was regularly missing, and booksellers and publishers could not mention them for scandalous books. However, it effectively advertised a title as scandalous if an obviously fictitious imprint was set. This resulted in a large number of pseudonyms and misleading information about the publisher's location . In the course of the 17th century , the Pierre Marteaus in Cologne occupied a prominent position among the bogus publisher addresses . Publishers in the entire French and German-speaking area (including the Netherlands) used his name to publish politically explosive books and pirated prints with relatively little risk. At the same time, they had the advantage of benefiting from the common advertising platform.

Only through the further development of publishing and press law did the imprint become binding.

Before and after the introduction of the law on the press of May 7, 1874 - also known as the Reichspreßgesetz - so-called seated editors took responsibility for critical publications with their name in the sense of press law in order to protect editors- in- chief or other editors .

Today it is required by press law to clarify the liability of the publisher and printer. Because those responsible should "be able to be held liable under criminal, civil and press law at any time."

Place and content

The more precise information on printing can now be found on the back of the title page, on page 4 of the book block . The imprint is part of the front cover and can be found on the imprint page . The imprint provides the information on the book required by copyright law and requested by libraries. The data listed in the imprint are also relevant for quotations. Included are:

Not all of these points have to be listed in the imprint. In the imprint of a book without images, no reference to image rights is required. The type of paper is usually only listed if the book was printed on special (for example, age-resistant) paper.

The imprint from a book design perspective

With some books, the imprint page is on the last page for aesthetic reasons, because ISBN , printing notices and copyright issues offer little potential for a designer. In other books, on the other hand, the imprint is split up so that the most important information can be found at the front, while other, less relevant information is on the penultimate page of the book. This is up to the decision of the book designer or typographer .

Imprint in other media

After the Internet opened up to the general public in the 1990s and the World Wide Web became popular, the demand for a clear imprint in the German-speaking area arose around 2002.


newspapers and magazines

In Germany , the imprint obligation for newspapers and magazines is regulated in the press laws of the individual federal states. The regulations concern the content; specific requirements for the form and design are not made.


On March 1, 2007, the Teleservices Act was replaced by the Telemedia Act. § 5 TMG regulates the following:

"Service providers have to keep the following information easily recognizable, immediately accessible and constantly available for business-like telemedia, which are usually offered for a fee [...]"

The information required varies widely - depending on the legal form or profession of the provider. Telemedia are essentially "all electronic information and communication services". Since a service can be business-like without being commercial , private, non-commercial websites could also fall under the legal notice. The wording has now been made more specific, so that only telemedia, which are usually provided for a fee, have to meet the information obligations, while purely privately operated websites are excluded. Telemedia are paid for if a website itself is offered free of charge, but is used as an entry point or advertisement for paid services. According to a judgment of the Higher Regional Court in Düsseldorf, the imprint must contain the full name of the person responsible, an abbreviation of the first name violates § 5 TMG. Further information obligations can result from the Service Information Obligation Ordinance . Since neither the Teleservices Act nor the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty used the term imprint , but only spoke of information obligations , various terms have been established for this mandatory information . In addition to the most common term “imprint”, these are, for example: “web imprint”, “provider identification” or “contact”.

For all non-teleservices, the State Treaty on Broadcasting also required an imprint (previously regulated in the State Treaty on Media Services). Both laws require that the relevant information must be "easily recognizable, immediately accessible and constantly available".


In Austria , the legal notice requirement for providers of content on websites is regulated in Section 5 (1) of the E-Commerce Act (ECG). With the e-commerce law, the Austrian legislator - just like the German legislature with the Teleservices Act or the State Treaty on Media Services - implemented the European e-commerce directive. This means that the imprint requirements are largely harmonized within the EU. Differences result only from country-specific features. Failure to provide this information can be prosecuted under administrative criminal law (Section 26 ECG, fine of up to EUR 3,000) and under civil law with an action for an injunction. However, the authority can also point out the deficiency to a provider and instruct him to remedy it by a specified period. If he does this, he does not have to expect a penalty according to § 27. In addition, the violation of the information obligations according to § 5 ECG can constitute a violation of the law , which can be asserted with an action for an injunction under the law against unfair competition ( UWG ) (OGH June 24, 2014, 4 Ob 59 / 14a).

The mandatory information that must be made within the scope of the disclosure obligation differs depending on the legal form of the website operator or the use of the website.


In Switzerland, according to Article 322 of the Criminal Code, there is an obligation to publish an imprint for newspapers and magazines. These must "specify the seat of the media company, significant holdings in other companies and the responsible editor in an imprint".

From April 1, 2012, the imprint requirement was extended to certain websites. Based on the European E-Commerce Directive, Art. 3 of the Federal Act against Unfair Competition (UWG) stipulates from this date that “anyone who offers goods, works or services in electronic business transactions” must provide “clear and complete information about his Identity and its contact address, including that of electronic mail ”.


  • Jost Hochuli: Book design in Switzerland . 2nd Edition. Pro Helvetia, Swiss Cultural Foundation, Zurich 1998, ISBN 3-908102-10-3 .
  • Helmut Hiller, Stephan Füssel: Dictionary of the book . 6th edition. Klostermann , Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-465-03220-9 .
  • Thomas Schulte, Ulrich Schulte am Hülse: Information requirements in electronic business transactions . In: NJW . 2003, p. 2140-2142 .
  • U. Rautenberg (Hrsg.): Reclams Sachlexikon des Buch . Reclam , Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-15-010542-0 .
  • Ulrich Schulte am Hülse: The information obligations on websites according to Art. 5 Para. 1 ECG - On the Austrian legal situation with a view to decisions from Germany, media and law . In: MR . No. 6 , 2004, p. 444-449 .
  • Jessica Schupp: Website design without legal problems . VDM , Düsseldorf 2004, ISBN 3-86550-038-2 .

Web links

Commons : Imprint in the book  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Imprint  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Rautenberg: Reclams Sachlexikon des Buches , p. 269.
  2. State Gazette No. 8 of March 6, 2009, page 9
  3. ᐅ Imprint generator free for Austria - create imprint now. Retrieved June 8, 2020 .
  4. Martin Steiger: Imprint obligation from spring also in Switzerland , Hostpoint Blog, December 1, 2011