Impressum is an information obligation, which entails with the rights of entity to specified publications such as books, magazines and also journals. Similarly, subjects publishing websites are obliged to do so. It means that it is necessary to provide certain data for instance seat, telephone number or e-mail address, the number in the proper register or records under the legal sanction. If we take a look at different than German legal systems, such as the United Kingdom or United States ones, there is no institution, which represents this kind of solution in one hundred per cent and instead it refers to terms such as “site notice” or “imprint”. The similar situation takes place in Polish law, where there is a necessity to search for analogous regulations, which are applied depending on the relevant factual and legal situation.
Impressum and the Act of a National Court Register
According to article 34 (1) of the Act of August 20th, 1997 on the National Court Register entities entered in the above-mentioned register (i.e. among others, limited liability companies and limited partnerships) are obliged to include the following data in their written statements addressed within the scope of their activity to indicated persons and authorities:
- company or name;
- indication of legal form of performed activity;
- seat and address;
- tax identification number (NIP);
- indication of the registration court, where entity’s registration files are kept together with the entity’s number in the Register.
It means that the aforementioned data are obligatory to be included on the websites of every limited liability company and limited partnerships. Failure to comply this obligation may lead to the registration court imposing a fine not higher that PLN 5000.
Impressum and the Code of commercial companies
In accordance with the article 206 § 1 of the Act of September 15th, 2000 the Code of Commercial Companies, further called “CCC”, letters and commercial orders placed by a limited liability company in paper and electronic form, as well as information on the company’s website should contain:
- the name, seat and address;
- indication of the registration court where the company documentation is stored and the number of the company registry number;
- tax identification number (NIP)
- amount of share capital.
It means that the aforementioned data are obligatory to be included on the websites of every limited liability company. Failure to comply this obligation may result with the members of the company management board being fined up to PLN 5000 (art. 595 §1 CCC.).
Impressum and the press law
According to article 27 (1) of the Act of January 26th, 1984 the press law it is obligatory to include in each copy of periodicals, agency services and other similar press releases following data:
- the name and address of editor or other competent body,
- the address of the editorial office and the name together with surname of the editor-in-chief,
- place and date of issue,
- the name of the establishment responsible for the concerned press print,
- an international information sign,
- current numbering.
In case given entity fails to comply with the above-described obligation, it exposes itself to the criminal liability as such act constitutes a press offence. This regulation applies only within the scope established by publishing and journalistic activity within the meaning of the Act. Article 7 (2) of the press law is here the source of definitions such as: press, journal, magazine or press material. Furthermore, as it is indicated in the jurisprudence, including the decision of the Supreme Court dated December 14th, 2010 (ref. no. III KK 250/10), also a transfer via Internet constitutes a press, providing that it meets the requirements of article 7 (2) (1) of the press law, which brings this regulation even closer to the German impressum.
However, in the light of the above regulations the press are: periodical publications, which do not form a closed, homogenous whole, appearing at least once a year, provided with a permanent title or name, current number and date and in particular: journals and magazines, agency services, constant telex broadcasting, newsletters, radio and television programmes and newsreels; the press includes also all existing and emerging means of mass transmission, including broadcasting and tele- and radiobroadcasting disseminating periodicals by printing, vision, sound and other means of publication; the press shall also include teams of people and individuals engaged in journalistic activity.
It should be noticed that similarities between two institutions end with the scope of application, above-mentioned article 27 of the press law, which provides the obligation to publish the imprint refers only and exclusively to the activity, in which the press law provisions are applied. It means that if given company does not conduct publishing activity and the materials published on its website are not of the press nature and do not serve to disseminate information or inform public opinion about certain facts in a cyclical or periodical manner, there will be no obligation to have an editorial imprint.
Impressum and the Act on electronic services
Another information obligation, similar to the impressum, which may also be addressed to entities conducting business activity through websites, is the one whose source is the Act of July 18th, 2002 on the provision of services by electronic means. Additionally, according to the above act, an entity providing electronic services is a natural person, a legal person or an organizational unit without legal personality, who provides even marginally, business or professional activity provides service through electronic means. The act obliges certain information obligations in relation to the status of the service provider. In particular article 5 of the act, which states a general obligation to provide information and article 6 of the act – a specific information obligation. For an entity conducting business activity throughout the website, it will mean that it is obliged to provide clear, unambiguous and directly accessible information such as the following:
- electronic addresses,
- name, surname, place of residence and address or name or business name and seat and address,
- if the service provider is a trader – also information on the relevant authorisation, if the activity concerned requires such authorisation,
- the access to up-to-date information on the risks associated with the use of an electronically supplied service,
- the service function and purpose of the software or data, other than the content of the services, entered by the provider into the information and communication system used by the recipient.
Among them is a ruling of Supreme Court of December 15th, 2010. (File Reference Number III KK 250/10).