CASE OF KRONE VERLAGS GMBH & CO KG v. AUSTRIA (No. 4)
(Application no. 72331/01)
9 November 2006
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Krone Verlags GmbH & Co KG v. Austria (No. 4),
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Mr B.M. Zupančič,
Mr J. Hedigan,
Mr C. Bîrsan,
Mrs E. Steiner,
Mr E. Myjer,
Mr David Thór Björgvinsson,
Mrs I. Ziemele, judges,
and Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 19 October 2006,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
“1. As it may be perceived by a third party, anyone who makes an accusation against another of having a contemptible character or attitude, or of behaving contrary to honour or morality, and of such a nature as to make him contemptible or otherwise lower him in public esteem, shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine (...)
2. Anyone who commits this offence in a printed document, by broadcasting or otherwise, in such a way as to make the defamation accessible to a broad section of the public, shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fine (...)
3. The person making the statement shall not be punished if it is proved to be true. As regards the offence defined in paragraph 1, he shall also not be liable if circumstances are established which gave him sufficient reason to assume that the statement was true."
35 (1) In criminal judgments concerning media offences committed through the content of a publication it must be stated that owners of periodical media bear joint and several liability together with the convicted person for the fine imposed and the procedural costs incurred, including the costs for the publication of the judgment.
(2) If, after the judgment had been pronounced in which such liability is found to exist ... the owner of the medium changes, the new owner is jointly and severally liable together with the former owner.
(3) Imprisonment in default ... can only take place if the fine could not be collected from the media owner.”
“6 (1) If in a medium the presence of the factual elements of the offence[s] of defamation [....] is established, the person concerned has against the owner of the medium a claim for compensation of the prejudice suffered. .....
(2) There is no claim under (1) in case of ....
4. a truthful reproduction of the statement of a third person if there was a predominant public interest in the knowledge of the cited statement.”
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 10 OF THE CONVENTION
“1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. (...)
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”
A. Scope of examination and existence of an interference
B. Justification of the interference
1 “Prescribed by law” and “legitimate aim”
2. “Necessary in a democratic society”
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
Holds that there has been no violation of Article 10 of the Convention.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 9 November 2006, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Vincent Berger Boštjan M. Zupančič