The topic of the German Impressum has come up here frequently. And elsewhere.
Some claim that it’s a German phenomenon, but it’s actually an EU thing. However, it’s implemented differently in different countries.
At the IT-recht Blog, Max-Lion Keller has a post in German on the situation in the UK at Impressumpflicht in Großbritannien.
From this, it appears that the requirement mainly relates to online sellers, whereas the German requirement is a bit wider – for example, my weblog could be called commercial in Germany if it’s seen as promoting my translation business (a questionable matter).
Anyway, even the German implementation of the directive doesn’t actually use the word Impressum. I wonder who first used it? Hence an English translation as legal notice or maybe just contact is possible but can’t be said to be binding. The main idea is that the person responsible for the website should be contactable with a minimum of clicks.
I found an online discussion of the matter which did little to increase my understanding. My favourite bit was the commenter who had done a web search for contact + imprint and found only German sites!
LATER NOTE: I have seen the English website of a big German translation company using the term editorial information. That seems wrong too (their French version looks better). The word imprint is only used in connection with a printed publication, such as a book or a newspaper. However, the word imprint is not normally used as a heading there – it is just used by the printers when they refer to it: ‘Where shall we put the imprint?’ And in that context, imprint means editorial information. I imagine the old situation in Germany was that Impressum meant the same thing but was actually used as a heading in texts. But when it was taken over for websites, it meant something more like contact information as required by law.
Of course, in a website you need a headword to click on, but nevertheless no single word has been established in the English-speaking world.