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German court rules against the use of quotes for ‘unlawful infringement of confidentiality’

German media report that the Regional Court of Cologne handed down an interim injunction banning journalist Heribert Schwan from including a list of alleged direct quotes attributed to former chancellor Helmut Kohl in Schwan’s recently published book: “Vermächtnis: Die Kohl Protokole” (The Kohl Protocols).

The court’s decision reportedly prevents further prints of the book which include the quotes in question. However, books that are already available in stores may still be sold. The court further reportedly found that including the quotes against Mr. Kohl’s express wishes amounted to an unlawful infringement of confidentiality. Tt was up to Mr. Kohl to decide whether or not he wished to authorize the use of his quotes in a publication, bearing in mind that he made in confidentiality when working with Mr. Schwan on a book back in 2001 and 2002.

Mr Schwan used to be Mr Kohl’s authorized ghostwriter and in this capacity conducted hundreds of hours of interviews. Kohl and Schwan had previously already published three books together. Kohl and Schwan however “fell out” and Mr. Kohl decided that he did not wish to go ahead with the fourth book after all.

Kohl had previously successfully sued Mr Schwan for a return of the tapes made during the conversations. While this looked like a copyright dispute, it was decided on the basis of Article 985 BGB as a return of property to the rightful owner.

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