‘Impressum’ in English

(Later note: this is an old entry. See later entries – via search box. My latest suggested translation is Legal Notice. A later entry, on October 12th 2003, gives the details of EU law as applicable in the UK).

German law requires webmasters to give their details online, so the person responsible for the site can be traced. Other details have to be added if applicable: a VAT number, number in the Commercial Register and suchlike.
This is called in German the Impressum.

It’s often combined with a disclaimer and a note on privacy.

Many people in Germany with bilingual sites like to translate the word Impressum into English, but that isn’t easy. The term normally refers to books (imprint) or newspapers (masthead), but neither of those terms is right online. On top of that, you don’t often see the words imprint or masthead written out in English, even in books and papers. However, the English versions of German sites bristle with mastheads, imprints and even colophons – a colophon usually describes the typeface used in a book.

Here are some legal details from the law firm Rechtsanwälte Sakowski, in Heidenheim (which I have spent a lot of time driving through).At Proz – www.proz.com – the term has been entered in the glossary, and there have been several threads, such as this one.

The most popular suggestion is Website credits, together with About us.
Of course, credits sounds like the credits in a film (Nachspann), the purpose of which is to name the heroes, whereas the Impressum is intended to name the villains.

It isn’t really needed in English. Contact or About would do it, or Details for German law.

As for the colophon, it should be a description of things like the fonts and software used. Antipixel has a good colophon, and so does Brad Choate.

At the site disclaimer.de, there is a suggested disclaimer, with a version in English (scroll down). The English version seems quite comprehensible, though not 100% grammatical.

http://www.disclaimer.de/index.html

There are two statutes governing the Impressum, depending on whether a person is writing more as an individual or more as a journalist or editor, but the wording is the same for both. Both are available in English on the WWW. One is the Teledienstgesetz / Teleservices Act.
The other is the Mediendienste-Staatsvertrag / Interstate Media Services Agreement – for an English version, see the German Law Archive.

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