The imprint obligation – all important facts

You need a correct imprint – this is what you have to consider

What you need to know about the imprint obligation to avoid warnings and fines. All answers, including imprint generator.

What is an imprint?

Of the imprint obligation nearly each side operator heard already something. But what exactly is an imprint, which websites need one and what information belongs in the imprint of a website?

The term imprint originates from press law. Legally correct, the labeling obligation for websites is actually called provider labeling obligation and is regulated in § 5 of the German Telemedia Act (TMG).

The imprint obligation is intended to ensure that the person responsible for a website can be identified as follows. This serves on the one hand transparency and consumer protection. Visitors to a website can thus find out who they are dealing with. On the other hand, the imprint requirement also has the purpose of determining who is the owner of a website and thus responsible for any legal violations in the event of legal disputes.

Imprint obligation: Who needs an imprint?

All websites that do not serve exclusively private purposes require an imprint. But when is a website actually no longer private?

The courts are quite strict in the evaluation of the imprint obligation: Already an advertising banner or an affiliate link, and the website is no longer purely private. So you do not have to make thousands of euros in sales with the website to be subject to the imprint obligation. It is sufficient if you generate income directly or indirectly, regardless of the amount.

It gets a little more complicated around the imprint obligation with web pages and blogs, on which contents are published regularly. Indeed, the imprint obligation concerns not only business websites, but also websites with regular editorial content. Unfortunately, there are almost no judgments here, in which it is clarified, when a blog or a website falls under these requirements. If you regularly publish content in your blog, then you should better include an imprint in case of doubt.

Company websites, on the other hand, always require an imprint, just like online stores. Even if you do not sell anything directly via the website and do not conclude any contracts, you are still subject to the imprint obligation.

What are the legal requirements for an imprint?

The legal requirements for the imprint obligation are regulated in § 5 Telemedia Act (TMG). Specifically, the law says the following about the imprint:

The imprint information must be easily recognizable, immediately accessible and permanently available.

Page operators must provide the following information in the imprint of a website in accordance with § 5 TMG:

a) the name and address at which they are established

b) in the case of legal entities, additionally the legal form, the person authorized to represent the company and, if information is provided on the company’s capital, the share or nominal capital and, if not all contributions to be made in money have been paid in, the total amount of outstanding contributions,

2. information that enables rapid electronic contact and direct communication, including the address of the electronic post office

3. if the service is offered in the context of an activity requiring official authorization, details of the competent supervisory authority

4. the commercial register, register of associations, register of partnerships or register of cooperatives in which they are registered and the corresponding register number

5. in the case of certain (regulated) professions, information about

a) the chamber to which the service providers belong,

b) the legal professional title and the state in which the professional title was awarded,

c) the designation of the professional regulations and how these can be accessed,

6. the sales tax identification number, if this is present

7. in the case of stock corporations, partnerships limited by shares and limited liability companies that are in liquidation or winding up, the relevant information on this.

The imprint generator

To make sure that you as a site operator implement these legal requirements correctly, we recommend the free imprint generator from eRecht24. You can use this to create a warning-proof imprint.

What are the risks of violating the imprint obligation?

Violations against the imprint obligation can be warned off. This has been the uniform opinion of almost all German courts for several years.

In connection with warnings, 3 constellations are particularly important:

1. Your website has no imprint at all.

2. you have an imprint, but it is not complete.

3. You have marked the imprint incorrectly.

Variant 1: Your website does not have an imprint at all.

If you operate a website that is not purely private, you need an imprint. If you do not have one, you violate the imprint obligation and must expect legal disputes.

to variant 2: you have an imprint, but it is not complete.

Even an incomplete imprint can be warned off. Common mistakes are z.B.

  • an abbreviated first name (P. Muller instead of Paul Muller)
  • you have a sales tax ID, but it is not indicated in the imprint
  • it is missing at GmbH& Co. information about the authorized representative(s)

to variant 3: You have marked the imprint incorrectly.

Especially the point of the designation of the imprint often leads to misunderstandings. If possible, you should also name your imprint "Impressum". Information such as "About us" or "Mandatory information" is not sufficient in the opinion of some courts for this purpose. So even a wrong designation can lead to warnings.

Who can warn you because of a violation of the imprint obligation?

You can be warned by competitors or by the competition or legal authorities. consumer associations. If you are warned because of a missing or incorrect imprint, you must expect costs of approx. 1.000 euros for the warning. Whereby the courts with the determination of the so-called controversy value differentiate here naturally from case to case.

In addition, you must submit a so-called cease-and-desist declaration. This means in our case, you agree not to operate a website without a complete imprint in the future. Often there is then a penalty of 5.001 Euro provided for the case of infringement. This means that if you operate a website without a correct imprint after issuing a cease-and-desist letter, it will be expensive.

It is important that you do not blindly sign every cease-and-desist declaration of the warning party. Depending on the wording, there is often a very high risk of knowingly or unknowingly violating the cease-and-desist declaration, for example if you operate several websites or your social media profiles are also affected by the cease-and-desist declaration.

What must a Facebook imprint look like??

An imprint on Facebook must contain the same information as an imprint on a website.

What is somewhat complicated with Facebook is the integration of the imprint. You can create here for example in the info area a point "imprint", which then links to the appropriate info page on Facebook. In this case, all the required imprint information must be included.

How must the imprint look like in other social networks?

There is also an imprint obligation in other social networks. It does not matter whether you maintain a website, a fan page on Facebook or a profile on Xing or Linked In. The decisive factor is whether these profiles are for purely private purposes. Then you do not need an imprint. If, on the other hand, the profiles are at least also used professionally, there is also an imprint obligation for all social networks.

The content information on such platforms and networks is also identical here to the information that you must provide in the imprint of a website.

Make sure that the imprint is easy to find and is marked as "Imprint".

The imprint obligation in the different legal forms

Imprint for a sole proprietor

Phone: 0123 / 12 34 56

Fax: 0123 / 12 34 56 – 7

Sales tax identification number: DE 123456789

Responsible for the content according to § 55 Abs. 2 RStV: Paul Muller

Imprint for a GbR

XYZ Company under civil law (GbR)

Authorized to represent: Paul Muller, Paula Schmidt

Telephone: 0123 / 12 34 56

Fax: 0123 / 12 34 56 – 7

Sales tax identification number: DE 123456789

Responsible for the content according to § 55 Abs. 2 RStV: Paul Muller

Imprint for a GmbH

XYZ limited liability company (GmbH)

Authorized managing director: Paul Muller

Phone: 0123 / 12 34 56

Fax: 0123 / 12 34 56 – 7

Register court: Local court Berlin

Registration number: HRB 12345

Sales tax identification number: DE 123456789

Responsible for content according to § 55 Abs. 2 RStV: Paul Muller

Imprint for a GmbH& Co KG

XYZ GmbH& Co. KG

Represented by the

Register court: Local court Berlin

Registration number: HRB 12345

Authorized to represent: Managing Director: Paul Muller

Phone: 0123 / 12 34 56

Fax: 0123 / 12 34 56 – 7

Sales tax identification number: DE 123456789

Responsible for the content according to § 55 Abs. 2 RStV: Paul Muller

Imprint for a stock corporation

Authorized to represent: Paul Muller

Phone: 0123 / 12 34 56

Fax: 0123 / 12 34 56 – 7

Register court: Local court Berlin

Registration number: HRB 12345

Sales tax identification number: DE 123456789

Responsible for content according to § 55 Abs. 2 RStV: Paul Muller

Copyright notices in the imprint

It has, not least by the defaults of offerers such as Fotolia, naturalized to take up the so-called copyright notes for photos the imprint of a web page.

The legal background: Photographers have the right to be named as authors of their pictures. If you use the picture of a photographer without mentioning his name, you can be warned.

The German copyright law assumes, however, that the author identification must be made directly on the work. The problem is that providers such as Fotolia are not the authors of the images and the rules of German copyright law can change at will.

Therefore, it is 100% safe to always name the author directly under the picture.

Disclaimer in the imprint

You can safely do without a disclaimer in the imprint of your website. If it were so easy to free yourself from any liability with 1 or 2 sentences on a website, then no one would be liable for anything anymore. A real limitation of liability by disclaimer is not possible according to German law.

On the contrary, if you use a disclaimer on your website, there is even the risk of being warned for inadmissible formulations in the disclaimer.

If you absolutely want to use a disclaimer, you should therefore make sure that the disclaimer does not contain any inadmissible provisions. You are welcome to use the following sample disclaimer:

Privacy notice in the imprint (yes/no)

Almost every website today needs a privacy policy. Even if you do not sell anything on your site and do not conclude any contracts, you are almost always dealing with personal data. Then you must also include a privacy policy on your website.

What are personal data?

Any information that makes a person identifiable. Some examples of personal data:

  • Name, first name
  • Address
  • E-mail address
  • Telephone number
  • IP address

In addition, there are numerous services, functions and plug-ins on websites that transmit personal user data:

  • Tracking tools like Google Analytics
  • Share and like button of companies like Facebook or Twitter
  • Advertising networks like Google AdSense
  • Server statistics
  • Youtube, Google Maps

So you can see that hardly any website can actually do without personal data and therefore also needs a privacy statement.

It is important that you should not include the privacy policy in the imprint if possible. A privacy policy is a privacy policy. An imprint is an imprint. The two points have nothing to do with each other for the time being.

So, if possible, set 2 menu items on your page:

If you integrate both on a side, then you should the menu point "imprint&" Cite "data protection.

You can also use the free privacy policy generator from eRecht24 for a correct privacy policy:

If you have any questions, suggestions or proposals for corrections, please use our comment function.

Law for founders: How companies can clearly protect themselves legally when using images for their online company presence.

The company’s own web presence is an important building block for economic success for companies. An appealing website or an informative blog ensures customer loyalty and new customer acquisition. Visual elements such as photos or graphics are also part of an attractive website design. Companies are usually aware of the importance of acquiring licensing rights before an image can be posted online on their own company website. Despite all the care taken in legally compliant image use, unpleasant surprises can still occur. A supposedly secure license turns out to be a violation of copyright or personal rights – and high costs are looming.

There is a whole series of rules to be observed for the legally compliant use of images. There are all sorts of pitfalls that companies can unknowingly stumble into. In this article, we provide information on how companies can clearly protect themselves legally if they want to use images for their online company presence.

Ensure licensing as a matter of principle

In a dispute about rights of use, the user must prove that he has acquired this right. The burden of proof therefore lies with the company that wants to use a photo. It must therefore obtain the license for each photo in advance and clarify whether it may be used on your own company website.

Courts expect great care in this point: So if you want to use images, you have to make their origin completely traceable. How agreements and contracts have paved the way from the photographer as author to the right of use of the user must be documented.

There is often a misconception that paying money for a license means that you have purchased the photo and can do whatever you want with it. In the media business, professionals use detailed rights catalogs when they want to acquire comprehensive usage permission. It is crucial that a company regulates this process conscientiously.

Create your own photos

At first glance, the legal situation seems uncomplicated when the user is also the photographer. The author has the full right to use photos that he has taken himself. But what is the situation if the photo is used by a GbR and that founder leaves the company whose photo is used on the website? Such issues are rarely settled in the formation process and lead to disputes later on. In addition to copyright, personal rights also play a role: if people are depicted in a photo, the use of the photo depends on their consent. The same applies if an entire group of people is depicted.

The Internet as an image source

If the company commissions salaried employees with the photo creation, this is legally unproblematic. The company has the right to use the camera if taking photos for corporate purposes is part of the employee’s job description. However, it is advisable to include a corresponding provision in the employment contract.

The image acquisition via third parties usually knows two ways. Either an external photographer is commissioned or suitable pictures are searched for on the Internet. With stock photos or generic motifs, it is usually easiest to download provided images from the Internet.

But this is precisely where risks lurk: Many images are apparently available free of charge. But this does not mean that a free photo is also free to use. If you overlook important conditions here, you could face considerable costs. This concerns high additional payments for royalties as well as opportunity costs. These arise when loss of time, legal disputes and damage to trust add up. It is better to invest money in acquiring suitable rights of use instead of wasting a lot of time on the Internet searching for allegedly free image sources.

Image search via search engine

What are the causes when image users run into legal problems?? One important reason is the abundance of photos available in search engines. Google Image Search, for example, is popular: because huge photo collections open up via search terms. In this context, Google offers a filter function that can be used to search for supposedly royalty-free photos. Quickly then with the suitable motive is seized. However, Google does not guarantee that the filtered photos actually match the searched criteria.

This is precisely where the risk of a warning lies. The keyword "permission to use is not very informative. It cannot be deduced which concrete terms of use the photo is subject to and which restrictions exist.

The Google image search is only suitable for internal preselection. If you find a suitable motif, research into the associated terms of use is indispensable.

Obtain stock photos

Specialized databases provide so-called stock photos. They are suitable if you do not need individually created shots. The financial range goes from free of charge to flat rate to exclusive rights of use for a license fee of several thousand Euros. Photo material from these agency offers should never simply be downloaded and integrated into one’s own web page. First of all, license conditions should be checked with image databases.

Product images as a special case

Even with product images, retailers are responsible for acquiring the rights of use. By no means can any product photo from the Internet be used – even if it is about the same product. Manufacturers often offer registered dealers to link corresponding product photos or download them for online stores. If no further information is given, traders may use the photo for their own sales offer.

It looks different with photos in the furnished press range. These photos may not be used for sales offers. If retailers use such photos without consulting the company, they run the risk of receiving a warning letter. The same applies to product images: the manufacturer must clarify whether and under what conditions the image can be used.

Contractually secure rights of use

Theoretically, a user agreement can be concluded in many ways – for example, with a handshake. In practice, however, written documentation by document or at least by e-mail is recommended.

Image infringement – what are the consequences?

If you are careless with usage rights, you risk high consequences. In the case of image theft, a photographer has many claims. He can issue a warning to anyone who uses the photos in an unlawful manner. If the user wants to refer him to the supplier, the photographer does not have to accept this. On the contrary, he can have both sides warned – company and image supplier.

If the photo use is illegal, the user is threatened with claims for information and injunctive relief, damages as well as attorney’s fees. Unfortunately, the situation cannot be remedied by deleting the photo from one’s own website. From a legal point of view, this must be combined with the simultaneous submission of a so-called cease-and-desist declaration with a penalty clause. Otherwise there is a risk of legal action.

The author: The main areas of activity of attorney Dr. Michael Metzner are industrial property rights, media law and copyright law. His law firm advises online store operators, online retailers and a large number of companies in the e-commerce segment.

Why it is also advisable for founders and entrepreneurs to deal with the topic of collective agreements in terms of labor law.

In Germany, as in other comparable countries (e.g. Austria), the mutual rights and obligations of employers and employees are governed not only by law, but in many cases also by so-called collective agreements. More than half of all employees in Germany are covered by collective bargaining agreements, although the trend is downward: According to the latest available figures, the collective bargaining coverage rate is 53% of all employees in western Germany and 45% of all employees in eastern Germany – a decline of 23% and 25% respectively over the last twenty years. 18% means. Nevertheless, the system of collective bargaining autonomy, which is guaranteed by the German constitution, is still considered to be an essential social and economic instrument. Economic policy achievement that prevents too much state influence and has certain advantages from both the employer’s and the employee’s point of view. Thus, it is also advisable for founders and entrepreneurs to deal with the essential characteristics of this legal institution.

What is a collective agreement??

The nature of a collective agreement can best be explained by distinguishing it from an individual employment contract. While the latter is concluded between individual employers and employees, organized interest groups are always involved in the drafting of collective agreements: The negotiating parties are trade unions on the one hand and employers’ associations on the other – although the constellation of trade union/individual company is also possible; these are referred to as association or company collective agreements, depending on the case. From the employee’s point of view, membership of a trade union is a prerequisite for being bound by a collective agreement; by analogy, for the employer it usually results from membership of an association. In practice, however, non-unionized employees can also benefit from conditions agreed in collective bargaining agreements if such feedback has been agreed in individual contracts. Of course, the far-reaching collective bargaining autonomy is also influenced by elementary legal conditions (e.g. minimum wage). Conversely, a specific collective agreement can be elevated to the rank of generally binding by a declaration of the responsible member of the government in order to extend it to all employers in the respective material and territorial area of application.

The contents of a collective agreement

All collective agreements essentially consist of two sections: a contractual section that regulates the rights and obligations of employers and employees (for example, the so-called peace, implementation and negotiation obligations) and a normative or substantive section that concerns the structure of the employment relationship itself. This is not just about payment (remuneration), which is often in the foreground in the media, but also about no less relevant aspects such as working conditions, working hours and vacation entitlements. In addition, the normative part contains provisions on the establishment and termination of employment relationships (conclusion and termination norms) as well as on questions of works constitution. From the point of view of content, the following types of collective agreements can be distinguished, among others:

Collective wage agreement: regulates the payment of employees, whereby a distinction can be made between different salary groups. This type is characterized by a rather short term and must be renegotiated correspondingly often.

For the definition of the above-mentioned salary groups, there may be separate collective wage agreements.

collective labor agreement: does not contain any provisions on pay, but deals with the other essential aspects of the employment relationship. This in turn includes notice periods, vacation entitlements or working hours. The collective labor agreement has a significantly longer period of validity than the collective salary agreement.
Since there is no legally binding subdivision of collective agreements, there are numerous other designations. Apart from questions of content, the concept of a regional collective agreement is of great importance: this applies to entire industries (e.g.B. public service, metal industry or retail trade) or. regions and represents one of the most common manifestations of collective bargaining agreements.

Advantages of a collective agreement and relevance for founders

For the parties bound by the collective agreement, the conclusion of a collective agreement has a binding force similar to law. Of course, this limits individual freedom – and thus some flexibility in terms of pay or work environment, which is especially valued by founders and their employees in the beginning. There are good reasons why many employers nevertheless make active use of the possibilities of collective bargaining autonomy: While employees benefit from better working conditions and higher wages, employers appreciate the competitive effects on wage levels and the absence of strikes (which are excluded for the duration of the collective agreement). As a result, the following consideration can be made for founders: While in the initial phase the advantages of a flexible and tariff-free arrangement of employment relationships may predominate, this relationship can be reversed with sustained growth and an increase in personnel – not least because newly arriving but already professionally experienced personnel appreciate the conditions guaranteed by collective agreements.

Many employees have long preferred to work in a home office because of the more flexible working hours it offers. Corona and the associated lockdown have made this wish a reality. This could remain the case even after the pandemic, because for many office activities the home office is perfectly adequate. But even there, working time limits and regulations apply. Beginning, end and breaks cannot simply be determined by the employee himself. The following are the most important information and tips on the subject of working hours in a home office.


Working Hours Act and agreements on working hours

Even in the home office, the agreements on working hours and, of course, the laws on working hours continue to apply. If a maximum working time of, for example, eight hours has been agreed, this may not be exceeded simply like that. Rest breaks of at least 30 minutes and, if the working time exceeds six hours, 45 minutes must also be observed. There must also be 11 hours of free time between the end of the previous working day and the start of the new one.

Recording of working hours

A very special topic is that of working time recording. Employers are required to record all hours worked in excess of the eight-hour limit. However, this obligation can also be transferred to the employee. On-site, most large companies have a time recording system, which, however, cannot be used in the home office. If such systems can be accessed online, then they must also be used by employees. There are helpful tools for this, such as the free timesheet template from Papershift , which makes it possible to record working hours from anywhere.

When monitoring measures are appropriate

In principle, working time fraud can lead to termination without notice. Not every employee is careful with this privilege and goes on to do other things during working hours or is not even available at all. If the necessary work performance is provided, the issue can certainly be approached loosely, but if this is no longer sufficiently provided, it becomes difficult. However, monitoring may only take place if there is a clear reason to do so. Simple suspicion is not enough, it must be based on facts. Regular communication and good coordination can often take such issues off the table early on and avoid misunderstandings.

Work (time) protection

Precise recording is very important, especially with regard to protection of working hours. The employer has a supervisory and welfare function and must see to it that the legal restrictions are observed. If work is done via a company laptop, for example, it may allow use only for a certain period of time, or one may work with cloud solutions or. E-mail accounts that are no longer available after a certain period of time.

Do home office employees have to be permanently available?

Just because you work in a home office doesn’t mean that you have to be available all the time. Especially not in the free time. Exceptions must be contractually agreed and the principles of the Working Hours Act apply. However, the employer is also authorized to set up fixed time slots during which one must be available or even participate in conference calls.

Flexible working hours

When you agree with the employer in advance, then a certain flexibility in the home office is guaranteed, which makes it so attractive. This is based on reciprocity, however, as most workers are also much happier when they are allowed to manage their own workday. Filling the washing machine quickly during working hours is not necessarily an infringement. Trust-based working time is still the best model, because the home office will continue to play a major role even after Corona, and the employee will usually provide the required services on his or her own initiative.

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