Imprint with international validity?
In scope of creation an imprint for this site, which is exclusively in english, I have started to search for reliable information for the provision of an imprint.
Basically I have to mention that this is about the perspective coming from europe, more precisely from germany. So it’s about how I create an imprint in english for a website in english language but hosted in Germany?
Therefore, there is no reliable information about how exactly an imprint in russia, india, china, africa or any other country should look like or represent information.
Also the information which is available here is based on my research and does not represent any legally secure information to which you can refer. However, it should help you to create an imprint in english – for this I report about my research results.
Is “imprint” the right term?
The first thing I noticed when translating Impressum into english is that it can be translated as imprint, but there are other terms as well.
The term imprint comes from the printing industry. An imprint (Latin impressum “Impressed” or “imprint”) is a legally prescribed indication of origin in publications which contains information about the publisher, author, editor or further editorial staff. Above all to identify those responsible for the content under a certain press law. Additional information such as the printing company, publication frequency, year of publication and place of publication are often also listed.
In a nutshell: “imprint” for “Impressum” is the wrong translation. Translations such as Legal Notice or About this Website are better or correct because they correspond more to the german term “Impressum” for a digital medium such as a website, because the legal component is significantly more important than a pure manufacturer specification.
Question now is how to translate “Impressum”. If you consult online translation platforms, you will often be suggested as “imprint” (without mentioning that this is in relation to books). This may be the main reason why this wrong term has crept in.
Because there is no exact and only correct translation, you can choose between a few possibilities. Those that imply that we are dealing with a legal regulation are recommended. For instance, there are such things like:
- Legal disclosure
- Legal notice
- Impressum – Legal disclosure
- Impressum – Legal notice
- Company details
- Site notice
- About this website
According to the researched list, a further possibility is to stay with the word “Impressum” and not translate it. In this case, however, it would make sense to indicate that this is a mandatory formality in Germany – but let’s face it, that’s way too long.
My personal recommendation would be “Legal notice” because the term legal notification comes closest to the german “Impressum”, in my opinion.
When your company is located in the EU or your offer is directly addressed to the european market, you are subject to the legal notice obligation – even if these differ slightly from country to country (E-Commerce Directive vs. implementation in the countries). This also applies if your website is online in a language other than german and this should also be given in an international context by your duty of precaution and naturally it brings more confidence.
I found my first helpful and relevant information in the blog of website-check.de. The blog post “Impressum und Datenschutzerklärung übersetzen – Was deutsche Unternehmen beachten sollten” describes the situation for websites that are hosted in one country (germany) but communicate in another language (english).
It is recommended that an legal notice which complies with the german requirements of § 5 TMG must be kept on the website if the site is hosted in germany. Furthermore, it is recommended that a website that has been specifically translated into another language, in order to address a foreign customer base, should in principle also have an legal notice in that language.
However, the opinion is also shared that a pure website, e.g. a blog, usually does not require an adjustment of the legal notice content, since e.g. a spanish translation, the legal notice must not only conform to spanish law, but also to argentinean, bolivian, chilean, etc. because this is very hardly possible for purely practical reasons.
But at the end the “Impressum” the legal notice and the privacy statement (Datenschutzerklärung) have to be translated, at least into english.
And for this, in my opinion, it is important to have the legal notice details not only comply with the german requirements of § 5 TMG but also that the implementation and translation of a legally compliant german legal notice that meets all the minimum requirements of article 5 of the EU E-Commerce Directive.
Therefore I recommend to follow the assessments of this article by website-check.de and Benjamin Schmidt (IT-Recht Kanzlei DURY) and to provide the german as well as an english imprint and to enrich it so far that it is more and more in accordance with the legal requirements from the european and international foreign countries.
Further information on the legal notice for other languages and the e-commerce guidelines can be found in Naveen Aricatt’s blog post “Inhaltliche Anforderung an das Impressum in anderen EU Ländern” at shopbetreiber-blog.de. The provision of additional information for certain countries is quite good, as well as the note that since january 2016 all countries have had to provide an easily accessible link to the OS platform and the legal notice is a good place for this (I also think the privacy statement would be a good place).
In the following I have provided links to relevant information for this topic. For the validity of the content, nor for the accessibility of this information, I do not assume any liability.
Information on german legal notice details
IHK zu Leipzig
Pflichtangaben im Internet – Die Impressumspflicht (PDF)
ZDH – Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks e. V.
Praxis-Recht – Impressumspflicht
1&1 IONOS SE / Digitalguide
Das Impressum einer Website
Impulse Medien GmbH
So wird Ihr Impressum rechtssicher
Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz
Leitfaden zur Impressumspflicht
eRecht24 GmbH & Co. KG
Impressumspflicht: 7 wichtige Fragen zum Impressum für Webseiten
IT-Recht Kanzlei, Rechtsanwälte Keller-Stoltenhoff, Keller GbR
Infopage – Impressum
Information on english legal notice details