2015/07/15

Germany: online archives and the right to be forgotten

On July 7, 2015, the Hamburg Court of Appeal decided that the “right to be forgotten” can also be asserted vis-├á-vis by the operator on an online archive.
The claim, against the publisher of a national daily newspaper,  was about the availability of old news in an online archive. In particular, this archive included some articles regarding a criminal suit against the claimant. He complained that these articles could be found among the top three search results on google.de by entering his name.
The Hamburg District Court dismissed the complaint in its judgment, stating that the plaintiff was not entitled to ask the publisher to delete or amend the articles in the archive, because of the absence of damages to his fundamental rights.
Instead, the Court of Appeal stated that, although the claimant didn't have the right to obtain the deletion of the articles from the online archive, the appeal was well-founded insofar as he called for the defendant to modify the articles in question in such a way that they did not appear in lists of search results when his name was entered into internet search engines, in order to protect his public reputation  (pursuant to the 1004(1), first sentence of the B├╝rgerliches Gesetzbuch (Civil Code - BGB) in conjunction with general personality law).