The imprint is probably the page of a blog that hardly anyone reads. But if it is missing, it can be quite unpleasant for a blogger. Because without a correct imprint warnings and fines of up to 50,000 euros threaten. There is no network police that systematically searches blogs for misconduct. So-called warning lawyers, who discovered this area as extremely lucrative, have taken over this role. An imprint should therefore always be the first text you put on your new blog. We'll give you tips on what to look out for when creating a correct imprint and which pitfalls to avoid.
The imprint obligation for web pages exists already since 1997. A goal is primarily the consumer protection: Each user should be able to recognize clearly, who stands behind an on-line offer. In addition, the imprint should offer competitors the opportunity to inform themselves. The imprint obligation has been regulated since 2007 by the German Telemedia Act (TMG) and the State Treaty on Broadcasting and Telemedia (RStV). The paragraphs §5 TMG and §55 RStV are decisive.
Of course, the holder of a domain can also be identified via the so-called whois database (DENIC is responsible for the .de domain). However, this is not enough as a source of information. Firstly, many people are unaware of this possibility and secondly, it is quite possible that the owner of a website and the provider of the content on this site are not identical. In other words: Only the imprint clearly shows who the responsible contact person is.
Blogs were in a legal grey area for a long time because it was not clear which category they fell into. Or rather: Many bloggers were on the sidelines because they didn't run a classic website. In the meantime, however, it is clear that the existing laws also apply to blogs. And thus the imprint obligation exists for most blogs.
The only exceptions are blogs that "serve exclusively personal or family purposes". These may be posted 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 is not only friends and family, but a larger audience, but you do not run your blog business-wise, you are subject to the "limited imprint obligation" according to §55 RStV. Then you only have to give your name and address, you can do without telephone number and email address.
For all other bloggers, the "comprehensive imprint obligation for providers of commercial telemedia, usually offered for a fee" (§5 TMG) applies. This sounds more like operating a pay-TV channel than a blog. In fact, however, the comprehensive imprint obligation applies to the majority of bloggers. For "business as usual" no subscription fees or the like have to be collected - advertising banners or other forms of advertising on your blog are sufficient.
It doesn't matter if and how much money you earn with it - it's the intention that counts. For tradesmen, freelancers, self-employed persons and companies, the principle of business conduct applies. 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 conditions are even stricter if your blog is a journalistic-editorial offer. Here again the RStV comes to the turn: It says that for appropriate offers a responsible person with indication of the name and the address is to be called, whereby the responsible person must have among other things its constant stay in Germany and must be fully legally competent.
The question remains what exactly is a "journalistic-editorial offer". This is not really clearly regulated by law. Examples of such points of reference could be the up-to-dateness, the influence on the formation of public opinion or the interest of a person concerned 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 in order to protect you from warnings.
So far the different levels of the imprint obligation. What is still missing is what information must at least be contained in a comprehensive imprint. According to § 5TMG and § 55 RStV these are:
Depending on the blog, you may also have to add the already mentioned extended information. The website of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection provides a detailed overview of all requirements with regard to the imprint in the "Guide to the obligation to provide an imprint".
Only a few years ago, the method Copy & Paste was used for the imprint. This kind of thing can go on backwards and is now completely superfluous. Because there are much better, simple and free methods to get an individual imprint for your blog. Imprint generators make it possible. Where you can find these generators and how to use them, we have explained you in detail ina tutorial on the imprint creation for blogs.
The bigger and more professional your blog project is, the more recommendable it is not to rely on the free variant, but to have a really individual imprint created with the help of a lawyer.
So far the legal situation. Actually, most blog operators should now be aware of the importance of an imprint due to the numerous reports on warning waves, even against bloggers. Nevertheless, there are still numerous pages on which a complete imprint is missing. Sometimes this happens out of ignorance, sometimes out of carelessness and in the hope that one will not attract attention in the big WWW already with it.
But there are also bloggers who deliberately decide against a (correct) imprint. Because, for example, they are afraid of being spammed if they publish their e-mail address in the blog. Or they fear harassment by phone or e-mail.
So what do they do? Fortunately, there are now thorough filters against spam. The problem of possible harassment, on the other hand, is more difficult to solve. Of course, as soon as you venture into the public with such information, you must reckon with reactions and questions. As a blogger you would like to have them, but please not too private. Unfortunately there is no patent solution: In principle everyone has to collect his own experiences here. Fact is, that in case of a case only a correct imprint is waterproof - many of the tips circulating in the net unfortunately do not fulfill this criterion.
It is best to stick strictly to the guidelines in order not to offer any points of attack to anyone. It is not only important that the imprint is complete, but also where to find it. According to the law, the imprint must be "easily recognizable, immediately accessible and permanently available". So it is not enough to put it small and hidden in the footer.
The imprint must be placed so that users do not have to search for it first. Maximum two clicks - the imprint should never be further away, no matter where a user is currently on the site, 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 also other variants that are allowed. 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 first of all we wanted to introduce you to the topic. Please note that our tips are no substitute for legal advice. If you're unsure, be sure to talk to an expert so that you're really on the safe side!