Should I watch the Christchurch shooting video

Video of the Christchurch assassination - is sharing a crime?


The Christchurch (NZ) assassin filmed his terrible act and broadcast it live on Facebook. The video was shared millions of times on Facebook and YouTube. After all, Facebook succeeded in either deleting millions of these videos or blocking them before they were uploaded, while YouTube failed. Copies of the videos were visible for hours. What threatens users who have shared this gruesome video? Have you made yourself a criminal offense? Can they be sued?

Which law is applicable here?

Whether the criminal law of another country applies in addition to New Zealand depends on whether the offense has a domestic connection. Originally there was no connection to Germany in the act. The victims were probably all citizens of New Zealand or another country, the perpetrator is Australian and a group of users in other countries was not explicitly addressed. However, the legal situation is different if this video was distributed via users in Germany. Here the users can very well make themselves liable to prosecution as well as possibly being exposed to civil law claims.

What laws does the video violate under German law?

Here, putting the video on the Internet could initially be a criminal representation of violence, Section 131 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It says: "A prison sentence of up to one year or a fine is punished for anyone who 1. describes a document (Section 11 (3)) that depicts cruel or otherwise inhuman acts of violence against people or human-like beings in a way that glorifies or belittles such acts of violence or that depicts the cruel or inhuman nature of the process in a manner that violates human dignity, a) disseminates it or makes it available to the public. " This fact should be fulfilled here. The perpetrator acted with inhuman, inconsiderate, raw or merciless disposition and thus "inhuman". The video shows how he glorifies this violence and depicts the inhuman nature of his act in a way that violates human dignity. It is a criminal offense to make such a video accessible to the public and to distribute it - in particular, to post it on the Internet.

In addition, the online posting of the video should meet the offense of sedition, § 130 StGB. Because the point is to incite hatred towards a religious population group and, due to the imitation effect planned by the perpetrator, probably also to encourage violence against Muslims. Distributing such videos can be punishable by imprisonment for up to three years or a fine.

The production and transmission of the video also violates Section 201a of the Criminal Code because recordings are made of people who show their helplessness in the face of this unprecedented act of violence and thereby violate the very personal sphere of life of the person depicted. With broadcast is meant a live stream like here. There is a risk of imprisonment of up to two years or a fine, but the offense will only be prosecuted at the request of the injured party or his relatives.

Finally, one could think of the public invitation to criminal acts, § 111 StGB in connection with § 211, murder. This penal norm is often relevant when showing IS propaganda videos. Section 111 of the Criminal Code states that anyone who encourages an illegal act by distributing a video, for example, will be punished like an instigator. Instigators receive the same sentence as the perpetrator, i.e. life sentences in the case of murder. If the request is unsuccessful, the penalty is imprisonment for up to five years or a fine. It depends on whether or how clearly the perpetrator said in the video that others should imitate him. It would not be enough if he only accepted that the dissemination of the video could lead to him having to have said it explicitly.

After all, the victims' personal rights are severely disregarded and violated, so that the victims or their relatives could sue the perpetrator under civil law for compensation for pain and suffering. Both through the defamation of the victims and their degradation as people in the video and through the violation of their rights to their own image, §§ 22, 33 Art Copyright Act (KUG). The violation of the right to the picture is also punishable, but is usually prosecuted under civil law.

And of course, the distribution is against the terms of use of all platforms.

Is it a criminal offense to share, like or comment on the video in Germany?

Only those who have committed or participated in an offense can make themselves liable to prosecution. Here it depends on the crime and whether the mere distribution of such a video is already a criminal offense:

In the case of depictions of violence and inflammatory videos, distributing it or making it accessible to the public is a criminal offense. In this respect, everyone can be punished like the original perpetrator according to Sections 130, 131 StGB who shares the video - but not by "liking" them.

The disseminator can also commit the violation of the highly personal area of ​​life according to § 201a StGB himself, as they make the video accessible to third parties in this way - but not by "liking" it.

With regard to public calls for criminal offenses, the mere distribution of a video would not be enough to fulfill the criminal offense. Here the divider would have to express himself in such a way that he asks others to do the same as the Christchurch assassin. A mere like would not be enough, it would have to be an explicit comment that is actually expressed with the intention that others will also commit such acts.

Could those affected sue those who share, like or comment on such videos in Germany?

One can, however, be liable under civil law by so-called "making one's own contribution" from someone else's contribution. The victims or their relatives can sue the perpetrator or the parting party for compensation for pain and suffering for personal rights violations.

For the violation of personal rights in the form of the degradation of the victim's violation of the law, the person who has adopted the content of the violation as his own is liable according to case law. What is important is whether the average intelligent user has to get the impression that the person who shares, likes, etc. identifies himself with the information in such a way that it appears as his own. However, several courts have already judged the activation of the "Like" button to be attributing illegal statements. A comment that clearly supports the content speaks in favor of appropriating. Then this can be assessed in such a way that one makes someone else's utterance one's own because one identifies with it and incorporates it into one's own train of thought in such a way that it appears as one's own.

It is therefore not infringing the law to merely share a post with infringing statements on Facebook. Here, the mere sharing of the contribution is a purely technical process and thus not attributing it, because the mere further dissemination, on the other hand, does not initially have any expressive content of its own.

On the other hand, the violation of the right to one's own image is to be viewed differently, which is not only punishable under Section 33 KUG, but also constitutes a violation of personal rights (Section 22 KUG). Simply sharing the image material on the Internet is enough to violate this right - the “liking”, on the other hand, is irrelevant.

Could shocked viewers sue those who shared the video?

In terms of civil law, one could remember that people who have accidentally seen the video and suffered a shock are entitled to compensation and compensation for pain and suffering from the perpetrator. However, German case law is strict with regard to the award of claims in the event of so-called shock damage and only grants close relatives of victims in individual cases such a right.