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03.11.2015

Germany: an injunction on one news website does not prevent publication on other sites

Ingo Beckendorf

The German Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht Hamburg – case no. 7 W 24/15 | 18 February 2015) decided that an injunction order against journalists, which prohibits them from publishing an article, does not oblige them to prevent other media companies from publishing the same article.

In this case, two journalists had written an article, which was released on the news website of the daily newspaper they worked for. The person concerned in the article brought an action for an injunction against the two journalists. The plaintiff won the case, and therefore, by court order the journalists were forbidden to distribute the article. However, after the verdict, the article was released on the website of another daily newspaper. Following the publication of the article on the other website, the previous plaintiff filed another application with the court for the alleged breach of the court order. According to the plaintiff, the re-publication of the article on another website was a violation of the injunction by the journalists.

 

The application of the plaintiff against the journalists was rejected by the German Lower Regional Court (Landgericht Hamburg – case no. 324 O 380/14). The plaintiff appealed against that decision to the Higher Regional Court, which rejected the application as well.

 

According to the judges of the Higher Regional Court, the injunction, which was obtained by the plaintiff against the journalists, did not extend to the release of the article by other media companies. The court explained that the injunction obliged the journalists to do whatever was possible to delete the article from the internet and to prevent the republication of the article.

 

However, after finishing and handing over the article to their editor, the journalists did not have any further power of disposal over the article. The judges said that the release of the article on the website of another newspaper was lying outside the sphere of influence of the journalists. Therefore, it was not within the range of possibility for the journalists to prevent the republication of the article on the website of the other newspaper. Thus, the journalists did not violate the injunction.

Ingo Beckendorf is a research assistant at the Institute of European Media Law (EMR) in Saarbrücken/Brüssel.


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The judgment of the OLG Hamburg is available in German language here.



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