Sun, Nov. 05, 2006

Bloggers' Self Defense

CK - Washington.   The business of abusive cease and desist demands in Germany may become less profitable. Occasionally, bloggers report on such demands, organize opposition and refer affected colleagues to experienced counsel.

A new step is a community blog, Abmahnung. In its introduction, it warns that the publication does not render legal advice. Instead, it is structured to collect information on abusive incidents and to aggregate sources of abusive demands.

In particular, it hopes to empower bloggers with few readers to alert the public to abuses of the legal instrument. Under German law, a cease and desist demand may be combined with a demand for attorneys fees. If ignored or opposed, the demand may grow into full-fledged litigation and generate additional legal fees.

Much empirical evidence points to inappropriate demands by lawyers or others who issue serial demands and treat the instrument as a means to generate legal fees. Bloggers see the instrument as a step toward censorship of unflattering content, as has become evident in the Parteibuch blog.

Surprisingly, there is little opposition to the chilling notion that bloggers may be subject to the intrusive identification requirement colloquially known as Impressum which gives abusers, including criminals, easy access to vital personal information of web publishers. Most bloggers publish such information out of fear of cease and desist demands, whether or not they are covered by the statutory requirement.

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