Andreas Kodsi vs. World Wide Web

Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 14:10 | Posted in Bloggers' rights, Blogosphere, Freedom of speech, Germany, Legal | 3 Comments

Andreas Kodsi is a controversial multi millionaire real estate business man in Germany. I would not go as far as to pass judgement about the legality of his business methods. It is obvious, though, that he has an aggressive marketing approach and many of his clients are less than satisfied. He sells properties that are widely considered as heavily over priced. The clients are approached by telephone sales people with practically no experience in the real estate business.

Operating a large scale business at this day and age is a very public activity. It is more than likely that activities of a business man like Andreas Kodsi are discussed in public, also in the Internet. It is also more than likely that not everything that is written about a man like him is positive.

Gomopa.net is a US based German language financial forum dedicated to exposing rip-off and cheat. There are several threads in the forum involving Andreas Kodsi. This lengthy thread is all about him.

It would indeed be nice if we got to regulate what is being said about us but then again, that would violate the freedom of speech. Suing web site owners – bloggers in particular – for slander has become almost an every day routine in Germany. While Andreas Kodsi’s aggressive legal team has managed to shut up most forums with critical coverage of his dubious activities, he could not do anything about Gomopa.net because that site is not under German jurisdiction. Instead, he went after Google and hit the jackpot.

Rolf Schälike is a translator and software developer in Hamburg. He runs an extensive web site Buskeismus.de dedicated to covering land mark court cases in the 24th Chamber of Hamburg Court. The chamber is also known as The Press Chamber. The chamber has an exclusive competence in cases involving freedom of speech, the Internet included.

Buskeismus.de covers the trial Andreas Kodsi vs. Google thoroughly. For full details in German click here and here.

Mr. Kodzi argued that Google’s search results for search of his name constituted a slander. Words like “real estate scam” appeared in search result pages. That would make Google liable for slander charges.

Much to my surprise the court agreed with Mr. Kodzi and ruled that Google must filter their search results manually in order to avoid legal responsibility. Since search engines are the mirror of the web, the Press Chamber in Hamburg basically says that it is reasonable to blame the mirror if you do not like the face that is looking back at you. If this ruling were to survive in higher courts, Google would have to hire censors in Germany the same way that they currently censor their search result pages in China. If this ruling stands, the mighty real estate dealer Andreas Kodsi will have succeeded in enforcing a major restriction to the freedom of speech in the German web.

But there is more to come, as if this were not enough. Marcel Bartels of Mein Parteibuch entered a post where he commented the court ruling. He did mention Mr. Kodsi by name but most of his remarks were references to information published elsewhere, including a couple of links to Gomopa.net with detailed descriptions of Mr. Kodsi’s transactions.

Since Mr. Kodsi does not like the idea of being critisized in the web he sued Marcel. The lawsuite was faxed to Marcel whereby the print quality of the fax copy that he received is bad. You can see a pdf file here.

For what I was able to read out, the case would be based on mentioning Mr. Kodsi’s name and linking to Gomopa.net by which Marcel would alledgedly spread “incorrect information” published by a third party. If this is all the merits of his case, not much success can be expected. That kind of a court ruling would practically make it illegal to link anywhere because linking somewhere would make anybody automatically responsible for the contents we link to.

Being sued by an unscrupulous millionaire is not something you would take very light. So Marcel decided to cut out the name Andreas Kodsi for the time being and replace it with the appropriate number of X’s. He will go to court if necessary although it may turn out to be an uneven battle in terms of legal resources, to put it mildly.

I have written many times lately that the German legislation is restrictive in the freedom of speech issues. This incident is bound to effect the Web beyond the German borders. It is fair to say that this lawsuite is a challenge to the freedom of expression in the Web allover the World. Mr. Kodsi seems to be out to get the World Wide Web, no less than that.

The obvious response from the blogging community would be to give this bizarre incident extensive coverage in blogs outside the German jurisdiction.

3 Comments »

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  1. This man is reported to have urged Parsimony to close the anti real estate fraud forum which had daily clicks of more than 10.000 and was under the 100 top of Parsimony.

    In general you should know this:

    In Germany many mighty corrupt and incompetent politicians have legalized mass fraud with real estates. Even the high court and many other lower courts, installed and dominated by politicians, have minimized consumer protection rules as far as capital investments are concerned. And all that in open confrontation with the jurisdiction of the European High Court in Luxemburg. Twice the Court made a decison in favour of the victims of bank-financed Schrottimmobilien.

    Is this judgement of a small court in Hamburg really an attack on liberty of press and opinion in Germany (and worldwide)? Yes, it is. It should legally be allowed warning people against the danger of being frauded with heavily overvalued real estates. The German expression is: ‘Schrottimmobilien’ or’Immobilienbetrug’, which actually means junk-real estates.

    Within the last 15 years Germany has become the paradise of riskless capital investment fraud. And for that reason GOOGLE as the biggest search engine of the world should be allowed and able to show up any warning links.

    This is my opinion. And not mine alone. Hundred thousands of victims out of German junk estates and injustice are completely fed up with a corruptive political and juridical German system which prefers protecting banks against their helpless customers. And which by no means any longer refers to basic standards of separation of powers, as far as legislation and jurisdiction of capital investment and consumer protection laws are concerned.

  2. […] As I wrote here and here, Mr Kodsi won a trial in Hamburg against the German branch of Google. The court ruled that Google must manually edit all search result previews on searches related to him. Fighting Google is one thing but why would a millionaire real estate dealer sue a “little guy”? […]

  3. And what going on about the German finance forum http://www.gomopa.net. you can find some information about this rich guy from Stuttgart right now! I thing gomopa is an American company? They make a very god job, that’s for sure!


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