Do you have a website or YouTube channel? Maybe you even build websites for clients and give advice while doing so. No? But you do have a Facbook, right? Dangerous! All very dangerous here in Germany. According to law office WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE, the most common reasons to receive heavy fines for not adhering to German law are as follows.
When you get caught sharing copyrighted material be prepared to be fined 1100€ per film.
When you are editorially active online, you’ll know that you need images. A lot of images. If you should be careless enough to snatch images from stock services like Getty Images without paying, fines will add up quickly. This will cost you 1000€ per image per year. So if you use 5 images for 5 years you will be fined 25000€. Yes, Internet Archives are accepted as proof.
On top of that you need to be careful not to use images on social media if you have not bought the proper license. Images shared via social media become common property most of the time. Stock services do not like that when it comes to their commodity.
Right to Their Own Image
When you use photos of your friends, colleagues or people in general make sure they agree with that. If they don’t and the image is embarrassing it could cost you 600-1000€. If they’re naked even, it can go up to 15000€.
Every website needs an imprint. Well, not every site. But an estimated 90% of all websites and blogs are subject to the imprint obligation according to TMG, also called supplier identification. For years, imprint violations have been one of the popular adhortatory letter classics on the net. Your imprint needs to be easily accessible from everywhere on your website ~ two clicks at most.
But what about social profiles? Anyone who is opinion-formingly active needs an imprint. Technically, you are publishing your opinion to your friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter and therefor need an imprint. This has never been prosecuted in real life though. Not yet.
Camouflaged Advertizing & Product Placement
If you monetize your content, be it Affiliate Links, Sponsored Reviews or commissioned Product Placements, you need to make clear that you benefit financially.
One of the biggest German YouTubers Flying Uwe (Uwe Schüder) was fined 10500€ for not declaring product placement correctly. If he’d continue to offend the Rundfunkstaatsvertrag this could be up to 500000€ next time. Source (German)
If you’d like more tips on how to prevent falling victim to German law oddities you could read our Freelancer’s Guide to German Internet Law.