Sat, Nov. 04, 2006

Skull and Bone Shots

CK - Washington.   Netzeitung provides an update on the photo scandal involving German troops in Kabul, Afghanistan. The scandal has been the main news topic in Germany for the past 10 days. Nobody understands why soldiers would pose with skulls and bones found in a pit near Camp Warehouse.

On November 4, 2006, a speaker for the umbrella organization for Protestant churches in Germany speculates that society at large may be to fault: Symbols of death have become so pervasive that they may affect the minds of soldiers in stress situations. There may be lack of preparation of the troops: Based on their training, they show respect for religious instutions in the host country. By contrast, they fail in this matter of plain decency for which society should have prepared them.

A speaker for the military noted that the legal issues are complicated. To the extent German law applies, photographs displaying bones of unidentified persons may not necessarily violate criminal code section 168 StGB that outlaws the desecration of the dead. Two soldiers have been suspended and others are under investigation. There are plans to honor the unknown dead with a memorial to be built by Germany in Afghanistan.



Stop the Impressum Craze

CK - Washington.   The Supreme Court in Karlsruhe displayed common sense when it scrutinized the scope of statutory obligations to publish identifying information on certain web sites. On July 20, 2006, it rebuffed the pixel pickiness of some courts and numerous commentators who had fostered a spirit of collective fear of cease and desist orders in owners of web sites.

German law, like that in some other countries, requires certain commercial web site owners to publish detailed identifying information. Over the past several years, a business developed among a segment of lawyers who descend like sharks on all sorts of sites and claim violations of the law--and substantial legal fees--for the wrong or incomplete placement of owner identification. In 2003, a Munich court even counted the pixels and number of clicks necessary to reach the owner's contact, about or FAQ page.

The Supreme Court put an end to such abuse. In the matter I ZR 228/03, it held that web sites need not be structured so that the visitor would inevitably, in the course of a transaction, come across the identifying information. In addition, the statutory requirement of the remote services statute, Teledienstegesetz, and the BGB-InfoV statute, is met even if the visitor may need to navigate through two links to reach the information, Anbieterkennzeichnung, which is colloquially known as Impressum. The court inserted into its decision a screenshot of the web site at issue.


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