A guest article by Daniel Block (address.net)
Many self-publishers are confronted with the fact that they are subject to the press law and thus have an imprint obligation in the context of the publication of their book or the start-up of their website. While a book publication under pseudonym is legally possible, a completely anonymous publication and start-up of the website is not. If you don’t want to have your real name and private address in the imprint, you need a reliable and legally secure imprint service. This one can be used by Daniel Block, the managing director of address.net and author of this guest article, offer. In the following, Daniel Block explains the legal framework of the imprint obligation for authors and gives tips on how to recognize a reputable provider.
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Getting started as an author:in is a big step: the book is written, the blog is about to be launched, all content is ready to go. But if you start your own business as a creative, be it full-time or part-time, you will be confronted with a lot of additional organizational issues. As uncreative and annoying as it is, these things can unfortunately not be avoided.
Whether print medium or Internet presentation: a correct imprint is one of the cardinal obligations. Who does not indicate everything correctly necessary for this, offends against the press right. The obligations stated in the Telemedia Act are quickly and readily punished by competitors or warning associations.
The dilemma for many authors: Not every:r has business premises, which he can name as address. Authors often simply work from home. But naming the private address as the business address just to comply with the imprint obligation? With it many do themselves heavily, particularly in the Internet. One may not simply omit street and place however also. What to do?
This article deals with the question to what extent the use of an imprint service is possible and what should be considered here.
Since Daniel Block is not a lawyer, the following statements are his personal opinion and his own experience. It is not a question of legal advice. If you have concrete questions or problems, you should contact a lawyer.
The legal requirements
The Press Act states that in every printed work the printer and publisher must be named, and in the case of self-publishing the author and publisher must be named, but in any case the name or company and address must be stated.
The Telemedia Act (§ 5 TMG) requires that all service providers on the Internet must provide the mandatory information required by law. Service offerers:inside are in principle all side operators:inside, which indicate business-like acting, z.B. present a self-authored work or advertise it in any form. Here it does not play a role whether an advertised work is sold or offered free of charge. In short: All publications on the Internet that are not of a purely private nature are subject to the Telemedia Act. Among other things, the following information must be provided by the provider:
You are a service provider:in? All information about the presentation on IAB can be found here.
… surname, first name and the address at which he/she is established ..
It concerns thus regarding the imprint a clear contact possibility to the responsible persons, which one must be able to identify clearly.
What exactly must be indicated?
Authors must always include their first and last names in their publications, whether in print or digital media, offline or online. Both must be completely written out. And what about pseudonyms, which are frequently used especially in the field of art and culture? May they appear in the address? Yes, nicknames instead of the real first name or the indication of a registered stage name are permissible. However, the identification must not be endangered. If the full name is listed in the imprint, a pseudonym can be used for the pure delivery address.
With legal persons, thus for example publishing houses, the complete and correct firm name must stand in the imprint. The legal form may be abbreviated (for example GmbH or KG). The person authorized to represent the company must always be named in the imprint with the correct first and last names. Legal representatives can be managing directors themselves or authorized signatories.
What is actually an address?
By "address" the jurisdiction understands a complete and summonable address in the sense of the code of civil procedure. This means that it z.B. it must be possible for a court to serve a complaint to this address. For this it needs the street and house number, the postal code as well as the city. A mere P.O. Box address does not satisfy this requirement.
If one has to prove that one is established at the given address, one might have to. be able to present a rental agreement for existing premises, be it a workplace, an office or an apartment.
Power of attorney is permitted
Even as an author, one may be represented, be it by a lawyer, a service provider or an authorized person. This includes correspondence: it may be addressed directly to the authorized representative(s). This is often done for contracts or orders. For example, correspondence including court mail to a condominium owners’ association is generally delivered to the appointed property manager.
This common practice has not been disputed so far. There is therefore no court decision on whether the address given in the imprint of a publisher or self-publisher may be replaced by that of a representative or not. It is irrelevant how the representation was authorized: A current power of attorney to receive, a service contract and/or also a c/o in the address are therefore possible.
It must be only clearly evident that it concerns really a agency and not approximately a further address of the author:inside or the publishing house.
In the event of a dispute, it must be possible to prove that the contact data provided is true. For this purpose, it is sufficient, for example, to present a corresponding service contract and/or invoices for the period in question.
What you should keep your hands off: Mailbox companies
The fact that authors can be represented by someone does not mean, however, that they are allowed to use a pure letterbox company. There are many service providers who only offer virtual addresses. From there, the mail is simply forwarded in digital or physical form. This practice does not at all meet the legal requirements according to § 5 TMG.
It does not matter how detailed or up-to-date the signed power of attorney for receipt is, nor how quickly the forwarding of the received items to the actual recipient, in this case the author or publisher, is carried out.
Basically it is quite simple: In the imprint an address is mentioned. Anyone can send letters there if necessary, and someone there will actually accept them. If it is necessary, like z.B. in case of court mail, the person can also acknowledge the receipt of a letter.
In a dispute about the correctness of an imprint, it is first asked whether the delivery of documents to the address was guaranteed in a certain period of time and whether the responsible person was established there or at least demonstrably represented there.
At this point the service contract comes into play again. Therefore, corresponding imprint service providers must inform customers of the details of the service contract at the latest during the order process.
What really matters is the summonable address
It is indispensable that service providers are recognizable as representatives and that it is not pretended that the addressee himself is established at the address.
On the other hand, the representative has to ensure that documents are actually received at the address given. These must also be receipted if necessary in order to meet the requirement of a summonable address.
Example: in a ruling in 2017, the Higher Regional Court of Munich rightly considered the address of a defendant who had rented a virtual office, at whose address deliveries to the defendant could not be made several times at the address, as a non-solicitable address.
How to recognize a good imprint service
It is the Alpha and Omega of an imprint service. If the reception on site is not regularly occupied, the chargeability of the address is by no means given. Tip: It is therefore advisable to make an inquiry before booking.B. to be sent via contact form on the provider’s website or via e-mail to the provider. If the provider answers the request on the same day or at least within 24 hours, this is a good sign.
If you have concluded a contract with an imprint service, then you should test it. Tip: It is best to write at least one test letter to the booked address. As a rule, the contract can be revoked within 14 days. If your own test letter is not available by the end of the revocation period, you should not continue to use the selected service.
Since an imprint service must be present at the address, this processes also permanently inquiries and transmissions. Tip: If an inquiry and/or. the booking of an imprint service provider is processed on the same day, at the latest on the next working day, everything is fine. However, if the request or booking is not processed for a long time, it can be assumed that the receipt of mail will also not be guaranteed permanently.
The provider should disclose its prices and services. Tip: If an attempt is made to shift responsibility to the customer, the customer should distance himself/herself from the provider.
Asked the other way around: How can you recognize dubious providers at first glance??
Rank 1: The promises on the website do not match the details of the service contract. As a result, processing is often unnecessarily protracted:
"After completion of the order process and receipt of your payments, we will send you the service contract and the postal delivery authorization, which you are kindly requested to sign and return to us with a copy of your identity card or passport."
Place 2: Reject the responsibility from itself:
"Please inform yourself in advance whether you can use the address protection in your project."
3rd place: Direct reference to missing service in the shopping cart system resp. during the ordering process:
"The processing time of your order is approx. 1 week."
The use of an imprint service provider offers itself quite for author:in. Before you "sign" with an imprint service, however, you should get clarity: Is the supposed service provider, according to the contract, an address service provider, a postal service provider or actually an imprint service with the explicit task of ensuring postal availability on behalf of the customers, so that the legal requirements are met??
If you look at the service contract, you will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff after just a few sentences. And this should be done urgently in advance. At the latest in the case of a legal dispute, you have to provide the evidence yourself, even as an author or publisher. The supposedly commissioned service is so to speak fine out, if it functions contractually "only" as post office service and the load ability of its achievements and addresses indeed as advertising promise, however contractually in no way assured.
About the author
Daniel Block has been managing real estate since 2004. Here it made fast the experience that predominantly prominent real estate owners were not attainable at their indicated private address. In connection with the respective capital investment this special group of persons tried increasingly to conceal its respective actual residential address from co-owners and the public. In urgent matters, such as z.B. In the case of fire or water damage, this posed a considerable problem for the property manager.
In 2007 Daniel Block started his own business and developed together with partners a web-based information system with document storage, which was mainly used in property management companies. The offer was supplemented with domicile addresses. In 2020, the imprint service address.net in its present form. This focuses on long-term customers such as bloggers, sole proprietors, freelancers, freelance journalists, artists, Let’s players, self-publishers and associations. The imprint service address.net offers addresses for the imprint in print and digital media and holds physical premises with manned reception for this purpose. Incoming letters can be retrieved in the protected customer menu and will be forwarded if necessary. Website: https://anschrift.net
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