Federal Court of Justice rules on the liability for hyperlinks
Last summer, the
German Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe issued
a verdict holding that an online service which offers links to articles in a
protected database is not in violation of copyright and competition law, thus
ending the discussion about the legality of deep links in Germany. This
week the court published its April 1, 2004 decision ( I ZR 317/01) on links from
websites to gambling sites. And once again the court stressed the importance of
hyperlinks and came to a very "hyperlink friendly decision".
contained an article about the success of an operator of gambling sites - a
former model - and included a link to an Austrian gambling site, which
lacks a German gambling permit and is considered illegal under German law
because it also caters to German customers.
According to the
highest German civil court the link only served informational purposes and was
not set to promote the gambling site. The court denied civil liability under
unfair competition laws. Most important the court provided long awaited clarity
as to the required standard of care for website operators: As long as it is not
obvious that the linked-to-site is involved in illegal activities, website
operators are protected by the freedom of press and opinion and may not be held
liable for providing hyperlinks. Even when the operator is in doubt about of the
legality of the linked contend he does not violate the duty of care.
So as long as as it is
not obvious that you are linking to illegal information you will probably not be
held liable in Germany. Although the decision centers around a news
article and the freedom of press it is reasonable to think the same standard
will be applied by the courts to all website operators.
of the decision
June 8, 2004: BGH
schränkt Haftung von Presseorganen für Hyperlinks ein, Heise:
"Ein Presseorgan haftet nicht für Hyperlinks
auf rechtswidrige Angebote, die als Ergänzung eines redaktionellen Artikels
ohne Wettbewerbsabsicht gesetzt werden -- sofern der Inhalt der verlinkten Seite
nicht eindeutig als strafbar zu erkennen ist."
June 8, 2004: Deutschland
lockert Linkhaftung, futureZone:
deutsche Bundesgerichtshof [BGH] hat die Anforderungen für Online-Medien zur Prüfung
von Links heruntergeschraubt, auf die ihre Websites verweisen."
June 9, 2004: Link-Haftung
"Tagesschau.de berichtete gestern über ein
bereits am 1. April verkündetes Urteil, bei dem es um Fragen der Link-Haftung