25 May 2010

Website Operators Liable for Integrated Feeds in Germany

By order of April 27, 2010 the Berlin District Court decided under Az. 7 O 190/10 that a website operator who provides third-party content on his website via an integrated feed is fully liable for the content provided via that feed (see here, in German only).

In the underlying case, a website operator was sued for publishing a post via a third-party content (rss or atom) feed that violated personal rights of the plaintiff. Even though the website operator was not directly responsible for or in control of the feed's content the Court held that he voluntarily utilised third-party content and thus is liable for any infringements in connection therewith. It thus is always risky to automatically integreate third-party content which was not individually checked before.

The Court's decision may be perceived as unjust since it is not possible to exclude individual items form an integrated feed. However, the website operator is the sole "master of the offer" (as expressed by the Court) so that he nevertheless is in total control of the content he provides on his website by deciding to integrate certain feeds, which is different from the situation of discussion fora in the internet or the like.