Do I need an imprint on my website?

from the category "General Questions "
Levels of difficulty: Beginner

As soon as you create your own homepage, you should generally bear in mind some legally required information about provider identification. For a layman the question "when do I need an imprint on my website" is already complicated enough because sometimes the legal regulations change faster than your legal imprint is online. And since ignorance of the law is no defense, you should think about adding an imprint to your website, just to be on the safe side.

What exactly is an imprint?

The imprint obligation regulated by §5 of the German Teleservices Act (TMG) "General information obligation" and the §55 Rundfunkstaatsvertrag (RStV) "Information obligations and information law".

Why do I need an imprint?

For reason of information alone, you should have an imprint on your website, so that your visitors know who is responsible for the website. And should there be any legal quarrels, a address for service should be available.

Can I be punished if I don't have a proper imprint?

Jurisdiction hasn't agreed on yet at which point a missing imprint can be punished or not. Recently, many lawyers regarded missing or incomplete imprints as a reason for sending out warning letters with fines. There have been different judgements concerning this case from different judicial bodies. In some cases it was regarded as a statutory violation, whereas other courts didn't find it necessary to fine certain offences against incomplete imprints.

But since the jurisdiction isn't clear, it is recommended to have a valid imprint on your website.

But who needs an imprint?

According to §5 of the German Teleservices Act (TMG) online business like services need an imprint. Whether a website is "business like" or not is another controversial subject.

§55 of the Interstate Broadcasting Agreement (RstV) deals with and regulates the content of imprints on websites. So whoever operates a website that is not solely for personal or for family reasons should include the following information easily recognizable, directly accessible and permanently available: 1. name and address and 2. in cases of corporate bodies the name and address of the authorized to represent.

If you publish news with "journalistic and editorial content" on a regular basis you have to add, besides the above mentioned, information on who is responsible for the content and who has written it.

Do private websites need an imprint?

In advance, solely private websites don't need an imprint according to §5 TMG. Only websites offering business like services need a valid imprint. Even §55 RStV stipulates that websites solely for personal or for family reasons do no not necessarily need a website.

But...

jurisdiction doesn't make it easy in terms of categorizing business like websites. Simply an ad banner you have placed yourself can be enough to categorize the website as a non personal website.

Summary of the imprint

Generally you can say that only a website that has merely personal or family content, for example a website about your pet or about your family or so, and has no self-placed ad banner does not need a valid imprint.

*The content of this article is not a legal advice and can under no circumstance substitute a legal advice in individual cases.


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