Law for authors – pseudonym& imprint: two like dog and cat?

Alexander Batel

Many authors wish to have a pseudonym. Be it because they are not yet so sure or in a profession on the way, which the past employer and the neighbor should not necessarily experience.

But on the other hand, there is indeed the obligation to keep an imprint on websites.

One may have the belief that the imprint asks for a "real" name. And that is not compatible with the pseudonym as is well known. But if I have to use my real name in the imprint, then my pseudonym is dissolved again.

But to completely renounce communication with your readers is not a solution either. Unless you are of the shy sort…

(Please note the Addendum at the end of the article)

Imprint duty – All others yes, only I not

Do I as an author, as a blogger or otherwise in the scene active really an imprint on my side to insert?

Quite clearly: Yes.

One can also not by obscure invoking the constitution (Note.: I once saw a curious imprint, in which the website operator referred to Art. 2 GG invoked. Unfortunately, I have this just not found again; will be happy to submit a photo when the opportunity arises.) or other creative outgrowths save from it.

Many think that the main reason for the imprint is the control of what is said by the legislator.

No, the authorities always have their methods to find out who is behind a website. For this they do not need the imprint. It is in reality primarily about competition and consumer protection.

If someone offers "services" or his website is publicly accessible, laws must be observed (-> more about privacy and advertising revenue as taxable income soon in another article). And if someone violates a law, then the person must be punished via a sog. summonable address be attainable.

The indication of a post office box is not sufficient here, so the Federal Administrative Court in a judgement ( Link to the judgement: ).

Differently expressed: Who has no imprint, can be warned off by other competitors. With lawyer and court costs can quickly 1.000 € come together.

No imprint = Costs a lot of money

Pseudonym – I just call myself Karl-Heinz, that’s enough, isn’t it??

After the Basic Law everyone is free in its actions, as long as one does not offend against other legal interests with its acting.

So my name is Horst, but from tomorrow I want to be called Karl-Heinz. That goes.

But not so simple in the imprint.

As already mentioned above a summonable address must be present. A given address is not summonable if the person does not really live at the given address and is the operator of the website.

different: If letter carrier and city hall do not know who Karl-Heinz is, then Karl-Heinz does not exist.

Dat gibbet not, sacht the Karl-Heinz.

Yes, dat gibbet.

How and when can I use my pseudonym without the authorities grumbling?

I leave the artist name as a trademark (expensive!) or enter in my identity card. For the latter you have to prove that you have been active under this artist’s name for a longer period of time. has become known.

And there the cat bites itself into the tail.

To be known, you have to run a website regularly as your main point of contact. And before being recognized as an artist by the authority, I have to give my clear name in the imprint. No real solution.

Pseudonym – In practice

How do I implement my pseudonym then without coming into conflict with the law?

Here, the Federal Constitutional Court clarified in 1996 ( link to the ruling ) that the designation of a delivery agent can be sufficient.

As a rule, this is how publishers and publishers of fractions also proceed. You are declared an agent for service of process by form (here there are different forms; however, these are detailed questions).

However, the small self-publisher has not yet found a publisher or agent. What does the?

There are sog. Delivery service provider. Here for a certain fee the service is offered to indicate the address of the offerer as summonable address for an imprint. Example for this: Author services.en

For 9,90 € in the year + expenditure lump sum one can take there the service up.

In my opinion better is Papyrus Author Club. Owners of the writing software Papyrus can use the address of the software manufacturer without recurring costs. Those who have incoming mail forwarded by email will also not be charged a lump sum for expenses. Great service.

At the same time you still have a wonderful writing program, with integrated spelling, grammar and even a writing style checker.

The third Possibility is the somewhat more complicated:

One registers a trade and then leads the trade in the imprint. Besides choosing the right legal form, there are still certain disadvantages to consider:

z.B. one cannot announce oneself with the trade with the artist social security office and/or. it becomes complicated.

In my eyes then only option 1 and 2 remain.

Thus pseudonym and imprint can get along at the end nevertheless. It’s like a dog and a cat: If you’re careful, they can get along with each other. But don’t look too closely: Then the trouble is already pre-programmed.


In its judgment of 7.5.In 2015, the OLG Hamm ruled that even GmbHs can use c/o address information, as long as this is not intended to thwart deliveries.

The legal requirements for the GmbHG are comparable to those of the TMG and RStV, so that the arguments also apply to the "simple" imprint.

Also the colleagues of supports my statements.

A warning still to sog. "Construction site homepages":

You may already be subject to an imprint obligation, according to the LG Aschaffenburg in its ruling.

The imprint obligation does not apply per se, but as soon as achievements are offered or advertisement is switched, then a warningable offence against the TMG and UWG can be assumed.

So: Watch out, what you already offer on your construction site page. In case of doubt it is better to place an imprint.


It is possible to operate an imprint with a pseudonym; even at the same time with a c/o address. But this does not mean that you can completely "disguise" your address.

Documents must be able to be delivered.

Do not forget however that in the imprint also still disclaimers, data security explanations and remarks to the copyright must be left.

More about this soon in another article on the subject "Law for authors".

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The opinions represented here represent the opinion of the author and can in this constantly developing right range no requirement on absolute legal security raise. Likewise, this article serves as an overview of the problem and is not a comprehensive presentation of all possible legal details and problems, especially since each case must be assessed individually. Please consult a lawyer of your choice for individual questions to clarify your situation.

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