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Must blogs be registered as press titles? Judgment of Radomsko District Court

On 27 October, the District Court in Radomsko acquitted Paweł Zięba, the administrator of the “Jawny Przedbórz” blogging website, of the charge of issuing a magazine without registration. The Court held that the blog was neither a daily newspaper nor a magazine and therefore was exempt from the registration obligation. The HFHR has prepared an amicus curiae brief in the case.

The proceedings were commenced in 2016 by a criminal complaint filed with the police by a local association whose activities had been many times featured on the blog. The association’s representative who testified as a witness at the trial said that the complaint had been lodged to obtain information about the authors of the entries. According to the representative, the posts placed on the website violated the good name of the association. However, the association was in no position to identify the editor and pursue claims for the protection of its personal interests due to the absence of registration.

The defence argued that “Jawny Przedbórz” was not a daily newspaper or a magazine within the meaning of the Press Law Act. Entries appear on the website in irregular intervals and the administrator and other authors of published articles or obtain a financial benefit from the blog. Given the above, “Jawny Przedbórz” is subject to no registration obligation.

The HFHR emphasised in the amicus curiae brief filed in this case that the obligation to register daily newspapers and magazines restricts freedom of speech and as such should not be interpreted extensively. In particular, creators of different amateur forms of online expression should not be surprised by information that they unwillingly create a registrable press title. In the assessment of the HFHR, the status of a given publication, including a website, should be determined on the basis of a publication’s objective purpose, which means that in all cases the whole set of a publication’s circumstances and characteristics should be considered.

The hearing was observed by a representative of the HFHR.

The judgment is not yet final.


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