The digital world is an ever-changing playing field where influencers and streamers play an increasingly important role. In the process, legal issues that are of particular importance to these professional groups arise time and again. A recent decision by the German Federal Supreme Court (BGH) sheds new light on the issue of imprint requirements and could have exciting consequences for influencers and streamers.
The BGH decision
In a decision dated July 07, 2023, the German Federal Court of Justice clarified that it is essential to state the plaintiff’s summonable address in order to properly file an action. This means that the address of a postal service provider who is merely charged with forwarding mail addressed to the plaintiff is not sufficient. This decision has far-reaching implications for the admissibility of lawsuits and could be particularly relevant for people with multiple residences or for those who use postal service providers.
This clarification of the BGH is to be seen quite positively in practice, especially for marketers and agencies of influencers and streamers. They are often listed in the imprint of the influencers or streamers, but only as intermediaries or post forwarders. The BGH decision relieves these marketers and agencies, as they can now no longer be used as an address for service in a lawsuit if they do not bear responsibility for the content. Instead, the summonable address of the person actually responsible must be indicated. This creates legal certainty and ensures that only those who are really responsible can be prosecuted in legal disputes. It could thus provide some security for agencies IF they design it right! I’ve learned a few things here from disposition processes this year.
The BGH decision provides important guidance, especially for influencers, streamers and their agencies. It underscores the need to take legal details seriously and could have a lasting impact on the way influencers and streamers design their mastheads. Together with the current ruling of the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg on YouTube’s liability, an interesting picture emerges: both rulings could offer agencies some room for maneuver.
But caution is advised. While an imprint may seem simple at first glance, there are many legal pitfalls lurking here. Agencies should therefore carefully check how their clients’ imprint information is presented and what disclaimers are in place. The combination of these two rulings should be taken as an opportunity to review and, if necessary, adapt existing practices in order to have real legal certainty and not be targeted by warning letters. And of course, the corresponding contracts should also be adjusted 😉