Imprint obligation

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The imprint obligation is the obligation to keep an imprint in print products and in online publications . For example, the publisher and the editorial team are named. In the case of publications on the World Wide Web , one speaks of provider identification . The signature of e-mails in business transactions is also anchored in law. This must be distinguished from further statements, for example on liability or data protection, which are referred to as disclaimers and whose legal effectiveness is disputed.


In 1530, a general obligation to publish an imprint was first introduced in the book system in the Holy Roman Empire by the Reichstag .

Federal Republic of Germany

The essential reform of the German legislation in the area of information and communication took place through the law regulating the framework conditions for information and communication services (Information and Communication Services Act - IuKDG) of July 22, 1997. Article 1 of the Teleservices Act was promulgated.

The Teledienstegesetz anchored that every commercial as well as business web presence on the Internet must contain a provider identification. The term “business-like” also included all continuous, non-commercial offers. The old Teledienstegesetz was replaced on March 1st 2007 by the Telemedia Act.

The Service Information Duties Ordinance came into force on May 17, 2010.

Law in the Federal Republic of Germany

Civil Code

§ 312c BGB (informing the consumer in distance selling contracts) and the following paragraphs as well as the regulation on information and proof obligations under civil law (BGB information obligations regulation - BGB-InfoV) stipulate that a customer must always use the chargeable address before concluding a distance contractmay inquire about the entrepreneur.

Telemedia Act

The Telemedia Act came into force on March 1, 2007. § 5 TMG defines the following general information requirements:

(1) Service providers must keep the following information easily recognizable, directly accessible and constantly available for business-like telemedia, which are usually offered for a fee:

  1. the name and address at which they are established, in the case of legal entities also the legal form, the authorized representatives and, if information is provided about the company's capital, the share capital and, if not all of the contributions to be made in cash have been paid in , the total amount of outstanding deposits,
  2. Information that enables quick electronic contact and direct communication with you, including the address of the electronic mail,
  3. insofar as the service is offered or provided in the context of an activity that requires official approval, information on the responsible supervisory authority,
  4. the commercial register, association register, partnership register or cooperative register in which they are entered and the corresponding register number,
  5. insofar as the service in the exercise of a profession within the meaning of Article 1 letter d of Directive 89/48 / EEC of the Council of December 21, 1988 on a general regulation for the recognition of higher education diplomas that complete at least three years of professional training (OJ EC No. 19 p. 16), or within the meaning of Article 1 letter f of Council Directive 92/51 / EEC of June 18, 1992 on a second general regulation for the recognition of professional qualifications in addition to Directive 89/48 / EEC (OJ EC No. L 209 p. 25, 1995 No. L 17 p. 20), last amended by Commission Directive 97/38 / EC of June 20, 1997 (OJ EC No. L 184 p. 31), or is provided, information about
    • a) the chamber to which the service providers belong,
    • b) the legal professional title and the state in which the professional title was awarded,
    • c) the designation of the professional regulations and how they are accessible,
  6. in cases in which they have a sales tax identification number according to § 27a of the Sales Tax Act or an economic identification number according to § 139c of the Tax Code , the indication of this number,
  7. in the case of stock corporations, limited partnerships on stocks and companies with limited liability that are in the process of being wound up or liquidated , information about this.

(2) Further information obligations under other legal provisions remain unaffected.

Service information obligation regulation

The Service Information Obligation Regulation came into force on May 17, 2010 due to an EU directive. In particular, § 2 regulates:

§ 2 Information to be provided at all times

(1) Without prejudice to further requirements from other legal provisions, a service provider must provide a service recipient with the following information in clear and understandable form before entering into a written contract or, unless a written contract is concluded, before providing the service:

  1. his surname and first name, in the case of legal partnerships and legal persons, the company, stating the legal form,
  2. the address of his branch or, if there is no branch, a summons address as well as other information that enables the service recipient to contact him quickly and directly, in particular a telephone number and an e-mail address or fax number,
  3. if it is entered in such a register, the commercial register , association register , partnership register or cooperative register stating the registration court and the registration number,
  4. In the case of activities requiring a permit, the name and address of the competent authority or the uniform body,
  5. if he has a sales tax identification number according to § 27a of the sales tax law, the number,
  6. if the service is provided in the exercise of a regulated profession within the meaning of Article 3 Paragraph 1 Letter a of Directive 2005/36 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications (OJ L 255 of 30 September 2005 , P. 22) is provided, the legal professional title, the state in which it was awarded and, if it belongs to a chamber, a professional association or a similar institution, its name,
  7. any general terms and conditions used by him ,
  8. any contractual clauses used by him about the law applicable to the contract or about the place of jurisdiction,
  9. any existing guarantees that go beyond the statutory warranty rights,
  10. the essential features of the service, insofar as these are not already apparent from the context,
  11. if there is professional liability insurance , information on this, in particular the name and address of the insurer and the geographical area of ​​application.

Press law

The state press laws require an imprint for certain products. For example, § 8 of the State Press Act North Rhine-Westphalia requires:

The name or company and address of the printer and the publisher, or in the case of self-publishing the author or the publisher, must be named on every printed work that is published within the scope of this Act. The name and address of the responsible editor must also be stated on the periodical printed matter.

The Rundfunkstaatsvertrag (Interstate Broadcasting Agreement ) extends these provisions also for general providers who do not operate a teleservice in the narrower sense (Section 55 (1)):

"Providers of telemedia that do not exclusively serve personal or family purposes have to keep the following information easily recognizable, directly accessible and always available: Name and address, in the case of legal entities also the name and address of the authorized representative."

The posting of expressions of opinion in forums is not subject to labeling. In these cases, the platform provider ensures that the interests of those involved can be protected. Otherwise, a labeling requirement would lead to the fact that communication would not take place, similar to the requirement for clear names on the Internet.

As can be seen from Section 55 (1) RStV, a provider is therefore only not obliged to provide an imprint, and he can put his website completely anonymously on the Internet if his offer is exclusively for personal or family purposes. This includes, in particular, content that is password-protected and whose password is only passed on to acquaintances and relatives, content from the closest personal area of ​​life in which there is no legitimate interest of third parties in the identity of the website operator or if the website is recorded by search engines in meta tags or is contradicted in a robots.txt file and the content comes from the personal area.

Policy decisions

The link and the content of the imprint have repeatedly been the subject of legal proceedings:

  • The Higher Regional Court of Koblenz ruled on April 25, 2006 against the background of the Teleservices Act that the omission of the competent supervisory authority does not constitute a violation that could be prosecuted under competition law, since - in the opinion of the court - it was a minor misconduct. However, this decision is no longer tenable in the light of the UGP Directive 2005/29 / EC: Article 7 (5) of the UGP Directive stipulates that misleading by failure to provide information must always exist when information requirements stipulated in Community law are not taken into account in communication. National law may not deviate from this regulation, since the aim of the directive is full harmonization. The regulation was therefore implemented in Section 5a (4) UWG at the end of 2008 . The obligation to name the supervisory authority in the provider identification results in turn from the E-Commerce Directive 2000/31 / EC. There is therefore no longer any room for a “minor violation”.
  • In a fundamental decision of the Federal Court of Justice of July 20, 2006, it was decided that it is generally sufficient if the provider identification can be reached via two links (in this case: "Contact" and "Imprint").
  • The European Court of Justice ruled on October 16, 2008 that a telephone number does not have to be given in the imprint of a telemedia service. However, a second contact option should be specified, which enables "quick contact with the service provider and direct and efficient communication with him". An "electronic inquiry mask", through which inquiries are answered within an hour, fulfills this condition.
  • With its judgment of December 15, 2010, the Düsseldorf Regional Court decided that so-called “construction site pages” also do not need an imprint. In that case, the website consisted of just a single page with a notice that the website was being revised and advised the visitor to visit the website later. The judges determined that "the website at this point in time did not serve the purpose of pursuing economic interests" and therefore there is no obligation to publish an imprint in accordance with Section 5 (1) TMG. The decision of the LG Düsseldorf encountered considerable concerns and an appeal was lodged, which was withdrawn after a judicial notice by the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court . On the other hand, the Aschaffenburg Regional Court decided in its judgment of April 3, 2012 (AZ. 2 HK O 14/12) that the imprint obligation also applies to websites that are currently being set up, provided that the website is already intended to pursue economic interests.
  • In the case of a commercially operated profile on Facebook, it is not sufficient to link to your own homepage under the "Info" tab, where the imprint is available (OLG Düsseldorf, judgment of August 13, 2013, Az. I-20 U 75/13 ).
  • It is still unclear how the imprint of a user on XING can be designed in a legally compliant manner; the judgment of the Stuttgart Regional Court of July 2014 shows this. In the legal literature, however, it is assumed that employees - unlike the self-employed, such as B. lawyers or tax consultants - regularly not subject to the imprint obligation.

Administrative offenses and responsibilities

A violation of the imprint obligation can lead to consequences under competition law such as warnings and administrative offense proceedings with a fine of up to 50,000 euros § 16 . Responsibility for the prosecution of these offenses is regulated in the federal states as follows:

Law in Austria

In Austria, the information obligations for providers of content on websites are regulated in Section 5 of the E-Commerce Act (ECG):

(1) A service provider must constantly provide users with at least the following information easily and directly accessible:

1. his name or company;
2. the geographical address at which it is established;
3. Information on the basis of which the user can contact him quickly and directly, including his electronic mail address;
4. if available, the commercial register number and the commercial register court;
5. if the activity is subject to official supervision, the supervisory authority responsible for it;
6. For a service provider that is subject to commercial or professional regulations, the chamber, professional association or similar body to which it belongs, the professional title and the Member State in which it was awarded, as well as a reference to the applicable commercial or professional regulations professional regulations and access to them;
7. If available, the sales tax identification number.

(2) If prices are quoted in information society services, these are to be marked in such a way that an average attentive observer can easily read and assign them. It must be clearly recognizable whether the prices including sales tax and all other duties and surcharges are indicated (gross prices) or not. In addition, it must also be stated whether shipping costs are included.

(3) Other information obligations remain unaffected.

Section 24 (4) and Section 25 of the Media Act as well as Section 14 (1) of the Austrian Commercial Code (Unternehmensgesetzbuch) should be mentioned as “other information obligations” . Section 14 (1) of the Austrian Commercial Code (UGB) refers to websites as well as “all business letters and order forms that are on paper or in any other way addressed to a specific recipient” and therefore also applies in particular to emails .

The sales tax identification number consists of a country code and 8 to 12 digits, e.g. E.g .: AT U 12345678.

Disregard of the imprint obligations is sanctioned by the Austrian legislator as an administrative offense, which is threatened with a fine and is punished by the district administrative authorities. There is also the risk that a competitor will try to enforce an injunction, for example if the service provider lists an incomplete telephone number or one that does not provide any contact with the service provider. In addition, there is a risk that certain consumer protection associations could enforce an injunction by way of so-called representative actions.

At the same time, it is advisable to pay attention to the accessibility of the imprint in favor of elderly or physically disabled people.

Law in Switzerland

In Switzerland, according to Article 322 of the Criminal Code, newspapers and magazines are required to publish an imprint. These must "indicate in an imprint the headquarters of the media company, significant holdings in other companies and the responsible editor."

From April 1, 2012, the imprint requirement was extended to certain websites. Based on the European directive on electronic commerce (2000/31 / EC), Art. 3 of the Federal Act against Unfair Competition (UWG ) stipulates from this date that anyone who offers “goods, works or services in electronic commerce” includes “ must provide clear and complete information about his identity and his contact address, including that of the electronic mail ”.


The basis for implementation in the member states is Directive 2000/31 / EC on certain aspects of electronic commerce in the internal market (Directive on electronic commerce), ABl. No. L 178 of July 17, 2000, p. 1.

See also

Web links

Situation in Germany

Situation in Austria

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Heinz Pürer, Johannes Raabe: Press in Germany . 3. Edition. UVK, Konstanz 2007, ISBN 978-3-8252-8334-6 , p. 59 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  2. Federal Law Gazette 2010 Part I No. 11
  3. ^ Regional Court of Cologne, judgment of December 28, 2010, Az. 28 O 402/10 .
  4. Stephan Ott: The imprint obligation according to § 5 TMG / § 55 RStV. ( Memento from June 14, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Oberlandesgericht Koblenz, judgment of April 25, 2006, Az. 4 U 1587/05, full text ( Memento of March 7, 2016 in the Internet Archive ).
  6. European Court of Justice, judgment of January 14, 2010, Az. C-304/08, full text .
  7. ^ Federal Court of Justice, judgment of July 20, 2006, Az. I ZR 228/03, full text, "Provider identification on the Internet" .
  8. ECJ, judgment of October 16, 2008, Az. C-298/07, full text .
  9. Directive 2000/31 / EC (PDF) of the European Parliament and of the Council of June 8, 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, Art. 5 Para. 1
  10. Düsseldorf Regional Court, judgment of December 15, 2010, Az. 12 O 312/10, full text, “No imprint obligation for construction sites” .
  11. Aschaffenburg Regional Court, final judgment of April 3, 2012, Az. 2 HK O 14/12, imprint obligation also for websites that are under construction .
  12. Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, judgment of August 13, 2013, Az. I-20 U 75/13 .
  13. Lars Sobiraj: Xing imprint according to LG Stuttgart not legally compliant. In: . July 24, 2014, accessed February 21, 2017 .
  14. ^ Thomas Haug: Information requirements for lawyers on social media presences. NJW 2015, 661.
  15. Bernd Lorenz, Supervision of Telemedia, JurPC Web-Doc. 171/2010, paras. 1 - 21 (with individual evidence for the respective federal states)
  16. Swiss Criminal Code, Art. 3221 Violation of the media's duty to provide information
  17. The Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation: Grippier means against unfair business methods , Bern, October 12, 2011
  18. Directive on electronic commerce (2000/31 / EC)
  19. Federal Act against Unfair Competition (UWG), as of July 1, 2014 , Art. 3 Para. 1 let. s no. 1