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Zwischen Feuer und Freiheit - Verdachtsberichterstattung und Äußerungsrecht im Fall Till Lindemann
Between Fire and Freedom - Suspicious Activity Reporting and Freedom of Speech in the Till Lindemann and Ramstein Case


Rechtsanwalt Michael Terhaag, LL. M.

Fachanwalt für IT-Recht
Fachanwalt für gewerblichen Rechtsschutz

Between Fire and Freedom - Suspicious Activity Reporting and Personal Rights in the Rammstein Singer Case Till Lindemann

[German version]

The expression of opinions is a high good - that is beyond question. But so is the general right of personality - and of course also that of so-called celebrities or persons in whom there is a particular public interest.
We have already reported on the fact that freedom of expression is not unlimited, as well as on the requirements for permissible suspicious activity reporting.

According to the case law of the highest courts (cf. e.g. BGH, judgment of February 16, 2016, Case No. VI ZR 367/15), the principles that must be observed in the case of suspicious activity reporting generally include the following points:

  • Minimum set of evidentiary facts: There must be facts that speak for the truthfulness of the information and thus give the report a public value.
  • A matter of serious importance: It must be a matter of serious importance - i.e. not a matter that only involves a low level of interest on the part of the public.
  • No prejudgement of the person concerned: The person concerned must not be made to fear that he or she will be prejudged in public as a result of the suspicious activity report. In particular, they must not be pilloried. This also means that the media must also use exonerating facts.
  • Opportunity to comment: Last but not least, the person concerned must always be given the opportunity to comment on the specific allegations. The statement must then be taken into account in the reporting.

That is just the introduction.

It's about the Rammstein singer.
We actually did not want to write about Till Lindemann and Rammstein at first, because in addition to the above-mentioned important principles of the rule of law, the presumption of innocence is also very important (to us).
Courts should decide on the guilt and innocence of people and no one should be publicly pilloried. At the same time, however, the press must be allowed to report on alleged wrongdoing under the conditions described above, especially if it is ensured that there is no pre-judgment.

Now to the status quo in the causa Lindemann vs. Spiegel, NDR, Süddeutsche Zeitung, but also Shelby Lynn, "Kayla Shyx" and other affected persons (as of 22.8.2023):

After the Hamburg Regional Court initially prohibited parts of Spiegel's coverage of Rammstein singer Till Lindemann (decision dated July 14, 2023, ref. 324 O 228/23), interim injunctions have also been issued in the meantime, among others against NDR reports on tagesschau.de (decision of August 14, 2023, ref. 324 O 298/23 and decision of August 10, 2023, ref. 324 O 273/23) and the Süddeutsche Zeitung (decision of August 10, 2023, ref. 294/23), but also against Kaya Loska aka Kayla Shyx (July 24, 2023 - ref. 324 O 264/23).

In all proceedings it concerns the expressed suspicion of the rape or execution of sexual actions at women without their consent or agreement - partly also the alleged administration of drugs and/or so-called K.O. drops is the subject of the arguments.

According to the Hamburg Regional Court (Case No. 324 O 228/23), Lindemann is entitled to injunctive relief on the grounds of infringement of his general right of personality under Sections 1004 (1) sentence 2 analogously, 823 of the German Civil Code (BGB) in conjunction with Article 2 (1) and 1 (1) of the German Basic Law. On the other hand, insofar as efforts have been made to have reports on sexual contacts and/or an alleged recruitment system for young ladies banned from the point of view of privacy, these have so far been rejected on the grounds of lawful suspicious reporting. Appeals have been filed and (also) these proceedings are continuing.

Lindemann was also successful against the influencer Kaya Loska. In a YouTube video, she reported on her own experiences of a visit to a Rammstein after-show party and, rather independently of this, made accusations against Rammstein singer Till Lindemann. The Hamburg Regional Court (Case No. 324 O 264/23) prohibited a total of eight passages from the video.
For example, it may no longer claim that Shelby Lynn was drugged or girls are "made drunk" from which Lindemann then chooses a sex partner. Expressions of opinion through comparisons with the convicted sex offender R. Kelly are also inadmissible, according to the court. Only accusations around the fan casting system that might exist around Lindemann were not objected to. Subjectively understandable, but still somewhat bizarre, that the young lady concerned, following the court decision processed this in a new video on Instagram, in which she reads out what exactly she was no longer allowed to express.

In the most recent decision in favor of Irish Shelby Lynn (decision dated August 15, 2023, file no. 324 O 256/23), the press chamber of the Hamburg Regional Court has now rejected all of Lindemann's requests for an injunction against the influencer.
The latter had used her photo on Instagram with bruises and with the English text meaning "At the concert I was drugged, I only had two drinks at the pre-party. And Till gave everyone a tequila shot. I don't know when or how that happened" first triggered the alleged scandal.

As for the main allegation in the posting of being drugged without her knowledge ("I got spiked"), the Chamber concludes that this was a permissible expression of opinion by the Irishwoman.
The court comes to this conclusion because the posting is to be seen in the context of others and therefore it is recognizable for the readers that Lynn did not claim to know how the drugs were administered to her or who administered the drugs to her. Rather, she had recognizably inferred the administration of drugs in an evaluative manner from the fact that she had merely taken three drinks and then suddenly found herself in a state that she could not otherwise explain - " I don't know when this happend or how."

The questions and proceedings are not yet closed.
Criminal charges were filed by third parties, i.e., "persons not themselves involved". The criminal investigation initiated in June because of initial suspicion against Lindemann because of sexual offenses accused to him and the possible delivery of narcotics was stopped and a criminal case was dropped  by the public prosecutor's office in Berlin in the meantime, as this confirmed straight.