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OLG Brandenburg: Electronic data is not a thing!

The problem

The OLG Brandenburger passed an interesting, if not too surprising, verdict for it, and in the process annulled the District Court of Potsdam.

In the relevant dispute, there was a dispute over the ownership of data from various insolvency proceedings, in which the OLG Brandenburg takes the view that electronic data do not contain any physical objects and therefore no property within the meaning of 90 BGB.

With regard to the electronic data, there is already a lack of property in accordance with Section 90 of the German Civil Code (BGB), so that the property protection regulations do not apply. Insofar as analogous application of ownership protection to data is advocated, this is not convincing. On the one hand, an analogy presupposes a loophole that is contrary to the plan. On the other hand, the comparability of the facts to be assessed must be present, that is to say, the facts to be assessed from a legal point of view comparable to the facts which the legislature has regulated in such a way as to be possible to assume that the Legislators would have had the same balance of balance in a balance in which he would have been guided by the same principles as when the legislation used was adopted.

 

The decision of the OLG

The OLG rejects this:

An unplanned loophole cannot be assumed, since the historical legislature did not want to regulate the inclusion of data in the protection of property, because there was no need for it due to the technical state of the art at the time. It is also to be denied that the legislature, if it had foreseen technical progress, would have come to the same balance. There is already a lack of comparability. Data cannot affect the physicality of things s. section 90 of the German Civil Code, since, unlike physical objects, they are characterised by their non-rivalry, non-exclusivity and non-exploitation, i.e. that they can be used by a large number of users without the use of the other that they can be copied at will without any special financial effort and are not subject to wear or aging.

As a result, there was no claim to surrender to the digital files for the plaintiff in the order.

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The basic idea could continue to occupy courts in the future due to the advancing digitalization. More and more companies are not using leitz folders or other storage folders to store data and documents, but scans, cloud storage or other digital solutions. The question of who “owns” this data is likely to arise in the future if the respective problems cannot be solved by other legal institutions such as copyright.

However, as the Court also points out, the Working Group on Digital Restart of the Ministers of Justice of the Länder has dealt with the issue in detail and stated in its report that there is a “data ownership” or other absolute digital data does not exist in the current legal system.

This could mean that these issues must be dealt with clearly and unambiguously and that this aspect must be taken into account when drafting the treaty.

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Written by Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel specializes in the areas of competition law, copyright law and IT/IP law and specializes in computer games, sports, marketing and streamers/influencers. He supports start-ups in their development, assists them with all legal problems and supports them in business development.

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