Bloggers and influencer marketers in Germany should take care to avoid running afoul of the country’s media and broadcasting laws or risk getting slapped with fines, said Jonas Kahl, an attorney at Spirit Legal in Leipzig, said during Berlin’s ITB Convention.
Whereas blogging was previously something of a “lawless zone” in Germany riddled with gray areas, bloggers and influencer marketers are increasingly being made to comply with various legal requirements, he said.
“Organizations like Germany’s state media authorities or consumer rights’ associations can prove problematic for bloggers and influencers by handing out fines or warnings,” said Kahl. Problems bloggers can run into range from copyright and trademark infringement to hidden advertising, he said.
Last year, Germany’s state media authorities even singled out one YouTube celebrity in Germany — who goes by the handle “Flying Uwe” — for posting videos that were actually hidden advertisements.
The media authorities said Flying Uwe needs to clearly label his videos as “long-term advertisements” as he uses them to market his own and other products, said Kahl. Otherwise, he could be fined for hidden advertisements.
“German authorities have said that broadcast laws apply to videos that are similar to television programs, even if they are only on YouTube or Instagram,” said Kahl.
Bloggers and influencer marketers should make sure they are clearly labelling their content as ads in these cases, said Kahl. This requires more effort than simply adding the hashtag “#ad” below a picture or video, too.
“Ads clearly needs to be labelled as ads,” said Kahl. “And bloggers need to differentiate between advertisements versus editorial content.”
Other pitfalls bloggers should avoid include using the incorrect labelling for product placements or committing copyright violation by using others’ content or brand names without their permission, he added.
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