Imprint obligation – the correct imprint for freiberufler

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Whether online store, blog or information website: Nowadays, almost every self-employed person advertises his or her business on the Internet – and is subject to the imprint obligation. Accordingly, freelancers must also create a legally secure imprint when they present their goods or services on the Internet. But why there is the imprint obligation for freelancers at all, how does an imprint have to look like and may this be accommodated in the AGB? This article answers the most important questions.

What is an imprint?

The word "imprint" originates from the Latin and means "pressed into" and/or. "Imprints". It refers to a table of contents within a publication that includes information about the author, publisher, place and date of publication.

Why there is the imprint obligation for freelancers?

The imprint obligation for freelancers results from § 5 of the Telemediengesetzes. It states:

"Service providers shall keep the following information easily recognizable, directly accessible and permanently available for business telemedia usually offered against payment:[. ]"

Service provider in the sense of § 5 TMG is any natural or legal person who provides his own or third party telemedia for use or provides access to use. Caution: Even the mere advertising of goods or services without the possibility of ordering is to be regarded as a telemedia service (PDF), regardless of whether a fee is charged for the use of the Internet site.

The imprint obligation for self-employed persons serves above all the consumer protection. With the help of the provider identification, consumers are able to check the seriousness of service providers before ordering their goods or using their services.

Checklist: What must be in the imprint?

The necessary mandatory details of an imprint are regulated in § 5 TMG. To avoid warnings and fines, the following data must not be missing:

  • the full name and address of the freelancer’s place of business
  • Data, which allow a quick, direct contact. This includes, for example, a telephone number and e-mail address
  • the competent supervisory authorities (in the case of activities requiring official approval)
  • the entry in the commercial register with registration number (for company forms subject to registration z. B. GmbH)
  • The sales tax number

For some freelance professions additional regulations exist. Doctors, lawyers and auditors must provide information about their chamber affiliation in the imprint. Also the denomination of the legal occupation designation as well as the state, in which the occupation designation was lent, rank among the obligation data.

Basically: If there are doubts about the content and design of the imprint, it is advisable to consult a legal adviser. Reliable corporate legal expense insurance helps freelancers find an expert lawyer.

Recognizability and accessibility in the imprint for freelancers

How exactly a legally secure imprint must be placed on a homepage, regulates the § 5 Abs. 1 TMG. Accordingly, the imprint must be easily recognizable, immediately accessible and constantly available.

1. Easy recognizability

With the judgement of the BGH from 20.07.2006 (Az. I ZR 228/03) a comprehensive clarity was created over the form and the recognizability of the imprint. An imprint is easily recognizable if it is in a clearly visible place and can be found without a long search. Current case law considers a provider identification to be easily recognizable, which can be perceived visually without difficulty and can be found through links, which can be understood as a reference to the imprint due to their clear designation.

2. Immediate accessibility

Gem. § 5 TMG the imprint must be mandatory directly accessible. According to the case law of the BGH, a provider identification is directly accessible, which can be called up with a maximum of two clicks. This can be realized, for example, by inserting the imprint itself on each subpage of the homepage or by a corresponding hyperlink.

AttentionThe accessibility of the imprint must not be dependent on certain scripts or browser plug-ins. According to the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), it is also not permissible to include the imprint as a pure JPEG or GIF graphic, as this does not guarantee sufficient accessibility for blind people.

3. Permanent availability

The imprint must be permanently available, d.h. it must be retrievable at any time and compatible with the standard settings of common Internet browsers. In addition, the law requires an option for permanent archiving by the website user. For this reason, the imprint must be designed in such a way that it can be printed out by the user.

May the imprint be placed in the terms and conditions alone?

This is not recommended. The Regional Court of Stuttgart, in its ruling of 11.03.2003 (Az. 20 O 12/03) decided that it is not sufficient if the imprint is only shown in the general terms and conditions of business. The provider identification is usually not a component of terms and conditions and must rather be in accordance with commercial principles gem. § 37a of the German Commercial Code (HGB) must be included on all business documents, even if their use is not related to the conclusion of contracts.

The imprint for freelancers is to be represented thus compellingly outside of the AGB under clearly indexing designation as own column on the homepage.

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