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Archive.org: Entry does not have to be removed after cease-and-desist declaration

In Germany, there is the option of issuing a cease-and-desist declaration to avoid legal proceedings. A cease and desist letter is a contract between two parties to refrain from a certain action. This can be, for example, a commitment not to display certain content on a website, to formulate it differently or similar, but also to delete content, photos or texts from other places. This includes backups, unlinked archives, and the Google cache. Time and again, claims for contractual penalties or disciplinary proceedings arise when an infringer only removes the obvious content (e.g. deletes a page in his WordPress blog).

The Karlsruhe Regional Court now had to report on an exciting question, namely whether an entry (or retrievability) in the Wayback Machine (under Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free & Borrowable Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine?) is also possible. However, the Chamber for Commercial Matters responsible there denied this in mid-February. According to the court, there was no violation of the cease-and-desist declaration in this case. This is because the cease-and-desist declaration was fortunately formulated in such a way that it only applies to actions in “business dealings”. However, the discoverability of the infringing content in the Wayback Machine does not fall under the concept of commercial activity within the meaning of § 2 para. 1 No. 2 UWG. This is because the inclusion in the Wayback Machine neither serves to promote sales nor is it directly and objectively related to the purchase of goods or services.

An exciting argumentation, I think!

The debtor does not have to accept responsibility for the content of Archive.org because it does not derive any economic advantage from archiving and providing outdated versions of homepages. “Normal” People wouldn’t think of searching Archive.org for old versions of a homepage and then interpreting that content as current advertising.

I think this is a very valid argument. But beware: The argumentation can only work in this way for content that presupposes a business act, e.g., violations of the UWG or trademark law. For example, a copyright infringement does NOT have to be commercial to give rise to injunctive relief. How the court would have decided in the case of copyright infringement can therefore only be assumed.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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03322 5078053

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info@rahaertel.com