Imprint obligation: 7 important questions about the imprint for websites
From: Lawyer Soren Siebert Professionally reviewed by: Attorney Annika Haucke
The most important in a nutshell
- Every entrepreneur who offers goods and services or even editorial content needs an imprint.
- In particular, the imprint must include a summonable address and be easy to find and reach.
- Who has no imprint, can be warned more expensively.
Every website needs an imprint. Good, not every page. But estimated 90% of all websites and blogs are subject to the imprint obligation under the TMG, also called provider identification. For years, violations of the imprint have been one of the classic cases of warning letters on the Internet. It is not that difficult to create a complete imprint and to integrate it correctly on your own website. We show you the most common mistakes and warning traps and make sure that you get rid of this worry.
–> The following article helps website operators to avoid legal risks and warnings in connection with an incorrect imprint and explains the imprint obligation. You can also create your individual imprint immediately with our free imprint generator.
1. What is an imprint?
An imprint contains a summonable address of the owner of a website, so that legal claims against him can be enforced in court. The obligation to the so-called "provider identification (Imprint obligation) results from § 5 TMG as well as § 55 RStV.
The background of the imprint obligation is that the users of the site should know who they are dealing with.
The term "imprint" originally comes from press law, but it has also come to be used for websites that do not belong to the press, such as online stores, company websites or semi-private websites.
2. Can violations of the imprint obligation be warned off?
Offences against the imprint obligation were warned in the last years thousandfold. However, case law is not consistent on this. Partly the courts represent the opinion that with missing or incomplete imprint a legal offence is present, so for instance the regional court Duesseldorf or the OLG Hamm. Other courts differentiate here and assume that certain violations of the imprint regulations are not subject to a warning, for example the Hanseatic OLG and also the OLG Koblenz.
Due to the inconsistent jurisdiction, every website operator should think about whether he needs an imprint and what information must be included.
3. Who needs an imprint?
An imprint is required according to § 5 Telemediengesetz (TMG) for "business-like online services". The TMG thus depends on whether the content, goods or services on the website are usually offered for a fee. This therefore affects all website operators who offer goods (online stores) or services (web hosters, software rental). Thus they have an imprint obligation.
The provision of § 55 of the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty (RstV), on the other hand, focuses on the content of the website for the imprint obligation. According to this, an imprint is required by anyone who (regularly) places journalistic-editorial content online that can contribute to the formation of opinion. What this means in practice, on the other hand, is difficult to say. If, for example, bloggers are providers of regular journalistic content? If yes, an imprint obligation after TMG applies to all Blogger or only for the good ones? What about the so-called cat content pages? And who judges whether content on the Internet is irrelevant or whether the limit to journalistically "valuable" content has been reached and thus the imprint obligation applies?? All these questions are currently not or not conclusively clarified by the courts.
Each web page, which is not purely private, needs an imprint. Here you can create a warning-proof imprint free of charge with just a few clicks.
4. Imprint also for private websites?
Purely private websites are initially exempt from the imprint requirement. § Section 5 of the German Telemedia Act (TMG) refers to business-like online services that require a provider identification. Also § 55 RStV assumes that with web pages, which serve exclusively personal or family purposes, no imprint is necessary. Here, however, there are two points to consider:
On the one hand, case law is very strict when it comes to classifying a website in terms of entrepreneurial or editorial content. businesslike action. Even an advertising banner or participation in an affiliate program can lead to a website no longer being considered purely private. So if you run advertising banners or affiliate programs on your site, you should include an imprint. This also applies if no or minimal revenue is generated with the advertisement.
The area of journalistic articles or editorial content on the Internet has also not yet been legally clarified. Bloggers and forum operators should therefore also have an imprint.
Summarized: The imprint obligation after TMG does not apply to sides, which are limited exclusively to purely private and family contents (my child, my cat, my house). All other site operators should – to avoid legal risks – create a complete imprint and include it on their website.
5. Which mandatory information belongs in an imprint?
What exactly belongs on the imprint page in terms of content?? Absolutely mandatory information is included:
Website operator/ responsible person
- Name and first name of the site operator
- Address of the site operator
Contact details of the site operator
- E-mail address
- Telephone number
- if necessary. Fax number
In the case of companies, further mandatory information is then added
- The legal form (GmbH, GbR. )
- Who represents the company?
- Register entry, if available
- VAT ID if available
Further specific mandatory information
in addition to these basics, there are countless other mandatory disclosures that apply to specific areas or activities:
- Profession-specific information for lawyers, tax advisors, etc
- Details of liability insurance or professional standards
- Specification and linking of the supervisory authority
- A link to the dispute resolution platform of the EU
A complete imprint "by hand can be very complicated. Make it easy for yourself and use our professional imprint generator.
6. I don’t have an office address, but I don’t want to publish my private address. What can I do?
Whether as a blogger who is afraid of threatening letters or as an erotic actress who wants to receive personal visits from her "fans" Fears: There can be many different reasons that you do not want to publish your private address on the Internet. One way to avoid this is to provide a virtual address: To do this, you rent a virtual business address and pay a monthly amount for it. There are different variants: You can rent additional rooms, or you rent only the address.
Tip: If you decide to use a virtual address, make sure you also conclude a rental agreement for premises.
Reason: You must ensure that you actually receive and read letters sent to you by a court ("summonable address"). According to a judgement of the OLG Munich a "Virtual Office Mailbox Plus" is sufficient, in which no rooms are rented, is not sufficient for this: Here, the mail was forwarded electronically, so that the court saw no difference to a conventional mailbox (OLG Munich judgment of 19.10.2017, case number 29 U 8/17).
In any case you are legally safer if you rent additional rooms in the office. In the end, you have to decide how important it is to you to keep your private address secret and whether you want to run the risk of being warned off. However, so far we are not aware of any warnings because of the specification of a virtual address.
7. Where must the imprint on the side be merged?
The law speaks of the fact that the information "easily recognizable, immediately accessible and constantly available" are to be kept. To be safe, the information should therefore be included in a separate menu item in the navigation, which can be reached from any subpage. The menu item should be named "Imprint" or "Provider identification".
The imprint information should not appear in a pop-up window, as this function is suppressed by many users. This would have the consequence that the information cannot be viewed and is therefore considered to be non-existent.
Also make sure that Cookie Consent banner the menu item "Imprint" do not obscure and the imprint is also visible in the mobile view of the website.
8. How to create quickly& simply to create an imprint?
Make it easy for yourself and use our professional tools.
We have developed the eRecht24 Imprint Generator, with which you can create a warning-proof imprint for your website free of charge, quickly and easily: