Marian Härtel
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Plagiarism accusation is only an expression of opinion

In principle, the person who makes an assertion must prove it. If this does not succeed, a competitor, for example, can assert a claim for injunctive relief, which the competitor can also enforce relatively easily in court. In court, the person who made the allegation is not helped by arguments along the lines of “Let the plaintiff show that I am wrong. I have often conducted such or similar court cases and usually won them. So you should be very careful with public statements in the form of factual claims, especially on the Internet, as of course in YouTube videos or on Twitch. You quickly find yourself on very thin ice.

However, a statement of fact must be distinguished from a statement of opinion. However, this demarcation may not always be easy, because it depends on the exact wording, the way of presentation and the content.

An interesting decision has now been made by the Hamburg Higher Regional Court. According to the Senate, the accusation of “plagiarism” or the statement that someone has simply “copied” from other people’s works is a non-prohibitable expression of opinion and not a statement of fact. The mere statement of an allegation of plagiarism was in itself too insubstantial to be considered a factual allegation. As a reason for this, the court stated that there was no generally applicable definition that would make the statement “a work is plagiarized” testable as true or untrue. Therefore, in any case, a false statement of fact could not be assumed.


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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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