Liability for links on the Internet
Setting links from your own website to other Internet sites has become a much-used way of offering visitors to your own homepage an additional service. However, these links to other Internet sites may, under certain circumstances, give rise to liability on your part if you refer to sites with illegal content. We would like to provide you with information on this topic in this leaflet, but our explanations do not claim to be complete.
There are no statutory provisions governing liability for hyperlinks. The case law is also not entirely uniform in this case, so that a certain residual risk always remains when setting a link. Hyperlinks are generally permitted if the party whose website is referred to does not recognizably prohibit this. To be on the safe side, however, you should assume that the operator of an Internet site generally only agrees to a link to the homepage. If you link virtually all the information on his site, this could therefore cause problems.
If you set hyperlinks, you may be liable for the content of the linked pages. It depends here in particular on whether you had knowledge of the illegal contents and whether you adopt the contents as your own! Therefore, mark an external link as such and do not embed it "as your offer" in your website. If, for example, when you click on the link, the external website does not appear, but the text is "embedded" on your own page, this could speak for "making it your own" and trigger liability for illegal content. As a precaution, you should also expressly state on your websites that you do not adopt the content of the linked websites as your own. However, this statement must be credible. If it is recognizable that you deliberately refer to a "critical page" and accept the content, liability should again be given. The same applies if you have positive knowledge of the illegal content of a website and nevertheless set the link or do not remove it.
If the content of the linked page is changed after the link was placed and now contains illegal content, the matter may become problematic. A strong opinion assumes that until this change is known, there is no liability for the new, illegal content. According to this, you would only have to remove the link immediately upon discovering the illegal content in order to exclude liability. However, the Munich Higher Regional Court has ruled in a judgment that the person who sets a link has a duty to monitor, i.e. to regularly check the content of the links. Whether this heavily criticized ruling will be confirmed by other courts is not yet foreseeable. A regular check of the links is therefore reasonable in feasible time intervals.