Zeitungszeugen case: the next chapter

A slight anticlimax in the Zeitungszeugen case concerning the ongoing battle between the Bavarian State government (Bavarian Ministry of Finance) and a British publisher, Peter McGee, concerning the republication of historical Nazi newspapers in a reprint series (see the IPKat's earlier posts here and here).

German magazines Der Spiegel and Focus report that the Regional Court Munich I (Landgericht München I, depicted on the left) yesterday partly rejected the Bavarian state government's attempt to use copyright laws to prevent educational reprints of Nazi newspapers Voelkischer Beobachter and Der Angriff. The court decided that the publisher of the history series Zeitungszeugen (in English: newspaper witnesses) is allowed to reprint early editions of the newspapers which were first published before 1939, i.e. published from 1933 to 1938. The judges ruled that the copyright in these publications has already expired, given that more than 70 years have passed since the newspapers in question were first published. The court took the view that notorious Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels and Adolf Hitler, who were both listed as editors of the newspapers, could not be considered as editors in the legal sense due to a lack of their respective 'creative input'.

Logically, the Munich court decided differently for reprints of newspapers which were published during and after 1939. These newspapers were not yet out of copyright and the republication of entire newspapers could not be considered as a legitimate citation. As such, Zeitungszeugen magazine is not allowed to reprint articles or newspapers published from 1939 to 1945 because Bavaria still holds the copyrights for that period.

The ruling has no impact on Kat newspapers (picture taken from the Blue Skunk Blog)

The Bavarian State government intends to appeal the decision (see press release here), whereas the British publisher behind the Zeitungszeugen project is cited as being very happy with the Munich court's decision. Tobias Pichlmaier, a spokesperson for the court is cited by Focus magazine as saying the Bavarian state had to think of something other than copyright laws if it intended to prevent such republications.

The court's press release can be found here (in German). Case reference is 21 O 1425/09, Landgericht München I. The decision is not final.

Certainly not the last chapter in this dispute. The IPKat also wonders what the Bavarian State government's plans are for the time after 2015 when the copyright for Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf will expire 70 years after the death of its author. Mein Kampf currently cannot be bought in Germany. Finally, this Kat seems to recall that the prosecution in Munich had intended to start criminal proceedings against the publisher. Do any of our readers know whether this ever happened...?
Zeitungszeugen case: the next chapter Zeitungszeugen case: the next chapter Reviewed by Birgit Clark on Thursday, March 26, 2009 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. You can buy Mein Kampf in the UK. Why not in Germany? Just silly censoreship.


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