Blogger’s Rights and Duties

Blogs have developed from simple online diaries to complex forums that let the curious share in your personal views. Meanwhile, professionals have also noticed the possibilities for doing PR and making customer contacts. The possibilities of digital dialog now allow us to comment on or just follow online discussions. This article gives some general hints on what rules apply to operating a blog.


a.  Monitoring Duties

Illegal content can easily result in an unexpected police visit. Such content includes insults, threats, extremism, or pornographic material whether texts, pictures, video clips, or audio clips. But generally, anybody is alone responsible for his or her comments. In addition to this, there is liability under certain conditions for the comments of other persons.

But when are you be liable for utterances of others? This is the case when you make the utterance your own. This simply means that if you know that someone is, for example, promoting Nazi values on your blog and do nothing about it, you will have made this your own opinion – regardless of whether you actually agree with it. And this especially the case where you personally comment on an illegal statement.

However, §8 TDG grants some relief of liability for operators of blog portals. For example, there is no general duty to monitor blogs and forums for illegal entries. It is unreasonable to expect this of a webmaster. Such would ultimately lead to the death of free platforms and technical simplicity in exchanging ideas. Nevertheless, webmasters must quickly become active once they have learned of illegal entries. Depending on the size of the blog, duties to monitor will vary.

b.  Requirment of an Imprint

Blogs also require an imprint. What needs to be in the imprint varies depending on whether the blog is a media service (Mediendienst) or a remote service (Teledienst). The difference lies in the characteristics of the contents. While remote services include any kind of web shops, media services exhibit »journalistic and editorial« orientation. Private blogs (i.e. for non-professional use) only require an imprint if they offer any kind of paid services.

To be on the safe side, it never hurts to have an imprint that includes all the mandatory de-tails (name, address, phone / fax numbers, company details (legal representatives, details from commercial registry, etc.). One site dealing with this issue is so-called the “imprint wizard”.

c.  False Feathers

Despite some belief to the contrary, the internet is not lawless zone! You are not allowed to violate copyright or patent law and use other persons’ texts, pictures, etc. without permission. You may also not copy designs or logos that are protected by copyright or trademark. So, keep your blog’s name and your domain name distinct from:

  • names of existing companies or famous persons,
  • titles of creations of other persons,
  • names of cities, offices, states, countries, etc.
  • so-called typo domains like »micro¬sift«, »gugel« or »gremany«

Failure to follow the rules will subject you to being admonished (at your own cost!) by attorneys protecting their clients’ rights under unfair competition law.

Published on the old CMS: 2007/2/25
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 49 reads

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