Wednesday 25 January 2012

Preliminary Injunction against 'Mein Kampf'

As German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports (here), the District Court of Munich I (LG München I) today issued a preliminary injunction (case reference: 7 O 1533/12) on behalf of the Bavarian state government, prohibiting the planned publication of commented excerpts of Adolf Hitler's notorious 'Mein Kampf' by British publisher Peter McGee. 

A spokesperson for the publisher said they would wait for the written arguments of the court before deciding on possible next steps. Bavarian state officials confirmed that they would continue to use Bavaria's copyright in 'Mein Kampf'. Bavaria derives its copyright claim in 'Mein Kampf' from the fact that it is the legal successor of Hitler's publisher Eher-Verlag, which was liquidated upon instruction of the Allied Forces in 1945, though it has been argued that upon its liquidation copyright should have reverted to Hitler's heirs (apparently there is a second cousin and a few other relatives, according to an article by the Tagesspiegel available here).

Mr McGee does not challenge Bavaria's copyright as such, but argues that the publication of excerpts accompanied by critical comments falls within the scope of the quotation exception/limitation in § 51 German Copyright Act (UrhG):

Reproduction, distribution and communication to the public shall be permitted, to the extent justified by the purpose, where
1. individual works are included after their publication in an independent scientific work to illustrate its contents;
2. passages from a work are quoted after its publication in an independent work of language;
3. individual passages from a published musical work are quoted in an independent musical work.

It remains to be seen which event will occur first, the final resolution of the legal dispute or the passing into the public domain of 'Mein Kampf' on 31 December 2015...

Also see previous 1709 and IPKat posts here and here

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