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What are the possible legal implications, and what possible recourse is there for a visitor from outside Germany, when a German website has an Impressum section with invalid contact information?

The background for my question is that I want to reach a site owner regarding a web site which took over a domain name which used to be in my possession. I don't particularly have a problem with the site, I'd just like to get in touch regarding the possibility of setting up some redirects. But so far, every attempt, by email or phone, including whois contact information as well as impressum, has been unsuccessful.

My - admittedly speculative and somewhat vague - line of thinking is that, since the law presumably requires the Impressum information to be correct, the hosting and possible other upstream providers should be able to coerce the guy into providing contact information; even though they likely cannot volunteer his private contact information, they must have an obligation to pressure their customer to rectify the situation if they are notified of a violation.

Be that as it may, where can I turn to hopefully get the situation fixed?

I'm in the EU, if that makes a difference. I can probably produce a few sentences of roughly intelligible German if need be.

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While German law indeed requires providing correct contact information it does not require the recipient to answer queries. It is there so that you can submit legal notifications. In your case I wouldn't be so sure that the information is not correct.

However, even if the contact information is incorrect, there is not much you can do about it. This is reserved to the following groups by § 8 Abs. 3 UWG:

  1. every competitor;
  2. associations with legal personality which exist for the promotion of commercial or of independent professional interests, so far as a considerable number of entrepreneurs belong thereto, and which distribute goods or services of the same or similar type on the same market, provided such associations are actually in a position, particularly in terms of their personnel, material and financial resources, to pursue the tasks, under their memoranda of association, of promoting commercial or independent professional interests, and so far as the contravention affects the interests of their members;
  3. qualified entities that prove that they are entered on the list of qualified entities pursuant to section 4 of the Injunctions Act or on the list of the Commission of the European Communities pursuant to Article 4 of Directive 98/27/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 1998 on injunctions for the protection of consumer interests (OJ Number L 166 page 51);
  4. Chambers of Industry and Commerce or Craft Chambers.

Unless you are a competitor you are out of luck.

The hoster or other providers can't do anything and don't need to, as they are not required to check legality of their user's websites.

It doesn't really matter where you are by the way for these laws.

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