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The Network Enforcement Act

Overview As of recently providers of social networks in Germany must comply with the so-called “Network Enforcement Act” formally known by the name “Act to Improve Enforcement of the Law in Social Networks” respectively “Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz”. The new law is meant to fight unlawful content on the internet, including hate speech, by addressing social networks and increasing their responsibilities. It requires social networks with more than 2 million registered users in Germany to set up a procedure ensuring that “manifestly unlawful” content is removed within 24 hours of a complaint and all other unlawful content is generally removed within seven days of a complaint. Breaches of this duty are considered a “regulatory offense” and may be sanctioned with regulatory fines of up to €50 million ($60 million). Beyond...
Court Decision

Bundesgerichtshof [Federal Court of Justice of Germany], Sixth Civil Section, Jameda, VI ZR 34/15

(1) The court ruled that a “review portal” can be liable for the accuracy of user-generated ratings on their web-page if they do not verify the review upon request. In the given case, an anonymous Internet user evaluated the plaintiff, a dentist, with the equivalent of a D-. (2) The court made clear that the provider is only liable if it breaches the observation duties of the Stoererhaftung doctrine. However, a provider is obligated to verify the review if the anonymity of its portal makes it difficult for the person affected to directly address the reviewer. This implies the duty to request medical records or prescriptions. Moreover, the provider has to pass on that part of reviwers' personal information which is not privileged under § 12 TMG to the person affected by the review. See also CIS blog

Germany Study on blocking, filtering and take-down of illegal Internet content

(prepared by Swiss Institute of Comparative Law for Council of Europe)
This is one of series of country reports prepared for the Council of Europe in 2015. Other countries' reports, and responses from national governments, are available here. The studies undertake to present the laws and, in so far as information is easily available, the practices concerning the filtering, blocking and takedown of illegal content on the internet.
Court Decision

Bundesgerichtshof [Federal Court of Justice of Germany], First Civil Section, GEMA, I ZR 3/14

(1) The Court decided on actions against internet service providers over access to websites linking to copyright infringing material. The collecting rights society GEMA sought to enjoin Deutsche Telekom from providing access to the website "3dl.am," hosting links to files in file repositories such as Netload, Uploaded or Rapidshare, which contain material for which GEMA members own the copyright. (2) According to Article 8(3) of the InfoSoc Directive, the Court noted that access providers could be enjoined from providing access to sites hosting or linking to copyright infringing material if they knowingly provided the means to allow the infringement, provided they failed to take reasonable care. Additionally, blocking injunctions were not only permissible when the blocked domain contained exclusively infringing...
Court Decision

Hotelbewertungsportal, I ZR 94/13

Bundesgerichtshof [Federal Court of Justice of Germany], First Civil Section,
The court ruled that online travel agencies are not liable for the accuracy of user-generated ratings on their web pages. First, anonymous remarks in a review cannot be ascribed to the travel agency, which does not endorse the users' comments. Any informed internet user would reject the idea that booking portals make all the comments their own. Second, there is no direct liability for hosting false comments due to the safeharbor for intermediaries provided by § 10 TMG, which is based on Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive. The “hosting provider” safe harbor applies because the online travel agency is a “neutral” platform that does not interfere with the user’s communication. Therefore, the Court noted, it is not obliged to fulfill “any unreasonable duties to review,” which could “challenge the entire business model”...
Court Decision

Landgericht Heidelberg [District Court of Heidelberg], Civil, 2 O 162/13

The Court to decide whether Google had to remove links to a web page which claimed to “expose” racists, i.e. the plaintiffs. The Court ordered Google to remove the links and awarded damages for the company's failure to remove the links promptly upon notification. The damages occurred because the plaintiff had been laid off after his employer had taken notice of the search results. Apart from that, the Court follows Bundesgerichtshof Federal Court of Justice of Germany, Sixth Civil Section, Google Autocomplete, VI ZR 269/12, May 14, 2013 (see above). Furthermore, The Court specifically referred to the Google Spain ruling of the European Court of Justice in its reasoning.