A critical blog forced to quit

Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 22:35 | Posted in Bloggers' rights, Blogosphere, censorship, Freedom of speech, Germany, Legal | 9 Comments

The most contested critical blog in the German blogosphere is closing after being subjected to legal challenge on four occasions only during the first month of 2007. Prior to that, Marcel Bartels was sued for his critical articles on several occasions last year. Enough is enough, Marcel writes in an open letter to readers of Mein Parteibuch:

Mein grundgesetzlich garantiertes Recht auf Meinungsfreiheit ist in Deutschland offensichtlich nicht das Papier Wert ist, auf dem es gedruckt ist. Es ist absehbar, dass ich für die weitere Veröffentlichung meiner Rechercheergebnisse und meiner Meinung unter meinem eigenen Namen unter Missbrauch der Gerichte zumindest finanziell ruiniert oder gar ins Gefängnis gesperrt würde.

Marcel is going to continue publishing a blog, though, under domains www.Mein-Parteibuch.com and www.Mein-Parteibuch.org. I have no knowledge as yet about hosting arrengements that Marcel may be considering to protect his site from the obvious abuse of justice that he has experienced while hosting the site under a German jurisdiction. A moment ago I expressed my interest in hosting a mirror of an uncensored version of the site.

The domain http://www.Mein-Parteibuch.org is currently displaying the notorious “cat image” which Marcel has used as illustration while reporting the legal “fan mail” he has received from lawyers. By publishing the picture here I want to express my solidarity. I hope Marcel is not going to sue me for a copyright infringement. 😉

Edit: There is a full English version of Marcel’s open letter in one of the new places.

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9 Comments »

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  1. I don’t understand German at all, but whatever happened to freedom of speech?

  2. That is a very good question, Geirsan. There is no short answer to it. As Marcel writes in the paragraph quoted above, the constitutional freedom of opinion does not seem to be worth the paper it is printed on. 😦

  3. A Norwegian blogger, Martin Bekkelund at http://www.bekkelund.net describes a similar attack from lawyers at http://www.bekkelund.net/blogg/2006/12/04/skittent-spill-fra-nettkatalogen/. He wrote disfavourly about a company using dirty selling techniques. The lawyers sent a letter to his company asking to stop the blogger from writing about the methods…. Maybe it is easier to attack blogs, as there are no rules pro aut con it being a new media.

  4. Thanks for the link, Geirsan. I’ll have a look at it later.

    While there are no specific laws in most countries regulating blogs as a media, the laws applied to press generally apply for bloggers as well. Bloggers are most likely to get targetted because most bloggers do not have the financial means to protect their rights. Legal advice is expensive in most countries.

    In Germany the financial burden is heavier than in many other countries because the legislation allows the suer to have their lawyer right a cease and desist letter (Abmahn) and attatch their legal bill. Íf the blogger does not contest the letter in court of law, they must still pay the legal bill which may be several hundred euros for a letter. A typical case is that of German environment minister Sigmar Gabriel vs. Marcel.

  5. Talking about freedom of speech what is your opinion on the topic I posted in my blog. Thanks!
    http://allaboutgermany.wordpress.com/2007/01/29/holocaust-denial-should-consider-a-crime-or-not/

  6. Holocaust denial is a topic that tends to pop up in the comments every now and then. I have promised in several comments to write a separate post about it so maybe I should do it soon. 🙂

    I did discuss holocaust denial in this lengthy post. Denying it is stupid, no doubt about that. But who would still be at large if you were to be put in jail for saying stupid things? Anyway, Germany should be very careful in suggesting anything regarding freedom of speech in context of EU legislation.

  7. […] looking sub domain name with a critical blog in Germany that was recently closed due to long going judicial harassment are purely coincidental. Or are […]

  8. It was a pleasure to read your comments.

    Gerd from germany

  9. The pleasure, as they say, is mine. 🙂


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