Internet Law

Prohibition on aiming internet advertising at children

Germany’s Federal Court of Justice has ruled that internet advertising aimed at children is prohibited. It is now illegal, for example, to aim internet advertising for toys directly at children (17.07.2013 Az. I ZR 34/12).

Prohibition on aiming internet advertising at children ©-Erwin-Wodicka-Fotolia

Prohibition on aiming internet advertising at children ©-Erwin-Wodicka-Fotolia

Internet advertising

The case was brought by Germany’s Federation of Consumer Associations against the software company Gameforge.

The company is the producer of the online fantasy game, ‘Runes of Magic’, which is offered on a free-to-play basis. Players then have the possibility to purchase items to improve their player’s capabilities and to advance in the game. Payment methods include credit card or by text message.

To encourage players to make purchases, the game advertised with the following: ‘Don’t miss this opportunity to give your armour and weapons that certain “something”’.

The Federation of Consumer Associations took the view that this statement was an impermissible exhortation to children to purchase the additional objects.

Advertisement not suitable for children

The BGH found that the use of language and the opportunity to pay in a child-friendly manner were clear indications that the advertisement was indeed aimed at children. The court therefore found in favour of the consumer association and declared the advertisement illegal. The protection of children in the online sphere was the reason the BGH gave to justify its decision.

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Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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