Hotelbewertungsportal, I ZR 94/13

Bundesgerichtshof [Federal Court of Justice of Germany], First Civil Section,
Document type
Court Decision
The court ruled that online travel agencies are not liable for the accuracy of user-generated ratings on their web pages. First, anonymous remarks in a review cannot be ascribed to the travel agency, which does not endorse the users' comments. Any informed internet user would reject the idea that booking portals make all the comments their own. Second, there is no direct liability for hosting false comments due to the safeharbor for intermediaries provided by § 10 TMG, which is based on Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive. The “hosting provider” safe harbor applies because the online travel agency is a “neutral” platform that does not interfere with the user’s communication. Therefore, the Court noted, it is not obliged to fulfill “any unreasonable duties to review,” which could “challenge the entire business model” of the platform operator (the Court specifically referred to Sommer unseres Lebens; Internetversteigerung II; Jugendgefährdende Medien in its ruling). If, however, the booking portal is informed of comments allegedly in violation of unfair competition law, it should promptly remove them to avoid liability.
Topic, claim, or defense
Defamation or Personality Rights
Document type
Court Decision
Issuing entity
Highest Domestic/National (including State) Court
Type of service provider
Host (Including Social Networks)
Type of law
General effect on immunity
Strengthens Immunity
General intermediary liability model
Takedown/Act Upon Knowledge (Includes Notice and Takedown)