Whoever offers "telemedia on a businesslike basis" is bound by legally prescribed information obligations. Telemedia, which are electronic information and communication services. As Internet services, websites and newsletters also count as telemedia, which must disclose who provides them via an imprint. But how must the newsletter imprint be designed?
§ 5 para. 1 of the Telemedia Act (TMG) stipulates that providers of business-like telemedia, usually offered for a fee, must provide certain information. Anyone who merely sends newsletters or operates websites for private purposes does not belong to this category. A telemedium is "businesslike" if it is used at least indirectly to generate revenue. Whether this actually happens is irrelevant. For example, a newsletter does not have to sell anything directly for it to be businesslike. It’s enough that it provides content that, in the end, is meant to promote your own business – even just to increase brand awareness or strengthen customer loyalty. If a freelancer sends a business newsletter, it is not a private but a business act.
What is the imprint?
In everyday use one speaks of "web imprint" in the context of that information, which is to be indicated according to TMG on the website. The term imprint originates from printing and goes back to the Latin imprimere (to press in, on). Newspapers and magazines have needed an imprint for centuries, which names the responsible persons. The TMG does not explicitly talk about websites or newsletters, but only in general about "telemedia". However, it is clear from the wording that both websites and business e-mails must have an imprint.
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How do I include the imprint in the newsletter??
The TMG specifies that information about the sender of a newsletter must be "easily recognizable, immediately accessible and permanently available". This is why the imprint must be clearly marked as such. The following terms are suitable as headings:
- Web imprint
- Provider identification
It should be noted here that the term "imprint" is the most common and therefore the easiest to understand.
When integrating the newsletter imprint, you can choose whether to include the imprint directly in your e-mail or whether to include only the address, e-mail address and phone number in the newsletter and link to the full imprint of your website for all other information. However, you play it safe by including the imprint directly in the newsletter, usually easily accessible in the footer or at the end of the email, respectively.
This is what you should pay attention to in the newsletter imprint:
- Use the heading "Imprint.
- Make sure that the font, color and size are clear and legible.
- Include the imprint as real text, not as an image or script.
Example of a newsletter imprint
Checklist: This information belongs in the newsletter imprint
This question cannot be answered universally, d.h. there is no generally valid sample text for the newsletter imprint. Which information is to be published, depends on which occupation you exercise, which kind of enterprise you operate and which goal you pursue with the newsletter dispatch.
Accordingly, the imprint should contain the following information in accordance with §§ 5 and 6 TMG:
- Name or. Company& Address of the operator that is capable of being summoned (P.O. Box is not sufficient)
For legal entities, also: their legal form and name(s) of authorized representative(s) and if applicable. Information on the parent or share capital
- E-mail address and telephone number
- If your activity is subject to licensing: details of the relevant supervisory authority (e.g. for catering businesses, estate agents, banks, property developers, lawyers, doctors and driving schools)
- If applicable: Commercial Register, Register of Associations, Register of Partnerships or. Register of cooperatives in which the operators are registered; also the register number
- With craftsmen, lawyers, tax consultants, architects and doctors, etc. Information about
- the chamber to which you belong
- the legal job title and the state in which you acquired it,
- The name of the professional regulations and a reference to their accessibility (link to the regulations, z.B. at the chamber of handicrafts)
The imprint obligation applies also to business letters, to which e-mails count.
- 35a GmbHG (law concerning limited liability companies), § 80 para. 1 AktG (German Stock Corporation Act) and § 37a HGB (German Commercial Code), letters of any form to a specific recipient must contain the following information, depending on the legal form in question:
- Seat of the society
- first and last names of managing directors, supervisory board chairmen and board members
- Register court and commercial register number
You should not take the imprint obligation lightly. Violations against the requirements of the TMG can be prosecuted according to §16 para. 2 TMG with fines of up to 50.000 euros can be fined. In case of a missing or incomplete imprint, there is always the risk of a warning by competitors.
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