Sun, Nov. 13, 2005

Risky Republication

CK - Washington.   The Hamburg court of first instance issued a TRO, not a final judgment, against a publishing company prohibiting that company's use of a generic domain name which the court found to improperly convey the notion that it was endorsed by German trade guilds.

Now, the publisher, ID-Medien, itself subject to criticizm, has sent cease and desist orders to two internet sites,, a blog specializing in domain news, and Schwerin-NEWS. Muepe had copied and pasted information from the Schwerin site. The Schwerin report was based on information released by the trade guild covering its temporary victory. Schwerin says it published an "article by the [guild]", einen auf Schwerin-NEWS am 7.11.2005 veröffentlichten Artikel der Handwerkskammer Schwerin.

The cease and desist orders claim that ID-Medien had not accepted the TRO and may appeal it. On that basis, ID-Medien argues that the web reports mislead readers by conveying the notion that the guild had won a final judgment. In turn, this impression is claimed to cause ID-Medien irreparable harm in its business.

Muepe added a note to its report to explain the status of the Hamburg ruling. Schwerin-NEWS published the details of the cease and desist order.

This development highlights the risks inherent in the uncommented and unedited republication of information published elsewhere. While copy and paste of excerpts may constitute legal fair use under copyright law and has become a popular technique in German law blogs, the minimalistic effort in populating a blog does expose bloggers to substantial legal exposure.

ID-Medien may be wrong in its claims and cannot realistically expect others to know how it feels about a TRO--other than the typical dissatisfaction of a losing defendant--and what action it might take against it. At the same time, there is now some legal basis on which bloggers may be required to state whether or not a court ruling has become final. See Legal News, Final or Risky on a--possibly non-final--Munich decision suggesting that websites update reports on reversed decisions.

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