Sun, Apr. 01, 2007

Attribution Required

CK - Washington.   A press release published on the Internet requires proper attribution when partially copied to another web site, the Hamburg district court decided on January 31, 2007 in a recently published decision available at Medien Internet und Recht.

In the matter 308 O 793/06, an attorney copied portions of a press statement published by another lawyer and integrated them into his own Internet publication. The court ordered the copier to cease and desist based on §97(1)(1) of the Copyright Act, Urheberrechtsgesetz.

A press release can constitute a protected work under §2(1)(1) of the Act. An unauthorized copy can violate the author's copyright. The court found a violation despite the removal of the copy from the website after the author contacted the copier. The matter did not become moot by virtue of the removal because the court recognized a likelihood of recurring violations.

The missing credit is the topic of a more comprehensive discussion, in German, at the Heise website. Heise explains that the copy would have been legal if published as a quote and with proper attribution. Government press releases would not require advance permission under §5(2) of the Act. Company-issued statements would be treated similarly as long as the attribution requirement of §63 of the German Copyright Act is observed.

The Hamburg court often takes positions on Internet matters that are extreme when compared to rulings from other courts. Therefore, decisions from that court are not necessarily reliable indicators of the law in Germany. This copyright holding appears, however, to clarify the law without unusual injections of policy views.

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