German Court: Forum Owners Have Unlimited Liability for Comments Posted by Users in Germany reports that a Hamburg court has ruled that forum owners should have unlimited liability, and are co-culpable for, any comments or discussions that take place on their sites, even if posted by third parties (eg. users) and without the forum owners knowledge. The report says:

"... Specifically, the court found that the forum operator could be found co-culpable by merely providing a platform for an inadmissible comment. In other words, the operator does not have to agree with the content or have entered the content directly. Furthermore, it does not matter whether the content came from the operator or from external parties, nor does it matter whether the forum provider has any knowledge of the contents. All that matters is that the forum operator provide its own website for the propagation of said content. The judges did, however, say that liability could be prevented if the operator of the website specifically states that the content of a particular comment does not represent its own opinion; it does not suffice if the forum provider generally states that the opinions in user comments are not its own."

"In addition, the court found that there was grounds for liability because Internet forums are a journalistic-editorial platform as specified in the revised Section 54 of the German Broadcasting Agreement (RStV), which stipulates that editors must check the content, origin and veracity of messages published with the utmost reasonable due diligence..."

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