The Higher Regional Court of Dresden added another piece to the puzzle around user ratings and platform liability. It outlined the circumstances in which a platform leaves its role as a neutral conduit and may thus become immediately liable for what is dubbed liability for “interference” in German legalese.
The case involved another dispute about a physician’s user review published on the platform. Upon objection by the physician, the platform had reviewed the statement and amended it without further consultation with the patient initially publishing it.
This editorial review and exertion of control over the content in the court’s view amounted to treating the content “as one’s own” and thus leaving the neutral role of a conduit. By giving notice to the physician that the review had already been reviewed and the disputed facts deleted Jameda had established its own assessment with the effect that it now directly – and not only after further notice – became liable for the remaining wrongful parts of the review.
This decision impacts the processes platforms have established to deal with notices of objections. The more the platform communicates an own opinion or activity with regard to a certain review the likelier it is that direct liability is created. To avoid this, a platform should not leave its role as a neutral conduit between reviewer and reviewed unless absolutely necessary.