Legal Issues – Why Are We So Inaccessible?
When the VC emerged, there were seemingly more European and German sites than there are nowadays. And those sites which are still there are very often members only, the vital data being hidden behind access restrictions. There is, frankly, barely any real vampire information site available that is accessible for everybody. And those which are available are often crude mixtures of fiction and reality or they are so superficial that they cannot be considered helpful for vampires or related folks.
Now, where have all those European and German sites gone? And why don’t I - that is me, Sasha - simply present a Germany-based website for German vampires in the format of “A Theory...”?
One reason for sure is that sites simply vanish eventually. Many well-known US-based sites don’t exist anymore. Same happens over here. The Crux Ansata website has vanished, so has the Crux itself. House Clessidra Ligamentum has been closed as well, even though memorial fragments of its page still exist. In fact, the majority of webpages existed between 1999 and 2004; many have been taken of the web again or were simply discontinued.
However, there is yet another issue, and this leads me to why the remaining support sites are all “members only”. The reason is that of the legal information.
Legislation in Germany is different from US legislation when it comes to issues of publication. Every website in Germany that does NOT exclusively caters to family issues (stuff presented for the publishers family only) or either is access restricted should devote a section to legal information about the publisher. In order to fulfill legal requirements, this information has a) to be accessible from the index page and every subsequent content page and b) has to feature legal contact information concerning the publisher which includes a real life contact address (real location, mind you, P.O. boxes are not allowed) and a phone number. It does not even matter whether the website features informational contents (entertainment, news, etc.) or is a commercial project (shops, services etc.). Or rather, this is a minor point. Officially, only commercial sites must have a legal notice, any other site providing non-commercial information is in case of doubt better off with it.. Only for the sake of comparison: The legal notice of a commercially published book which would be on sale in a book shop does NOT feature such detailed information. A book author even has the right to use a pen name. The publisher of a website does not have this right. Even if he just offers non-commercial information catering only to a certain subculture.
Now frankly, on top of that, Germany has no such rigid minority protection system as the USA have. Not everybody claiming to be a minority is accepted as such. Vampires neither have a lobby nor the status of a recognized minority. Rather, legal authorities investigate on and off, whether contents of vampire-related websites need to be “investigated further” due to all sorts of legal questions, like the protection of minors or religious issues only to name a few.
Now imagine you were a vampire and wanted to publish a page on a German server, in German for a German audience. And you were forced or at least strongly advised to give the address of your personal address and your phone number out to just anybody who reads your page. Would you do it? Or would you possibly rather fulfill requirements for not having to provide your contact address?
For this reason, access restricted websites have become fairly common. Some even feature a legal notice; however, it is not extremely obvious on the main page that the contents are about real vampires and related topics. Or they are simply a web-based discussion forum with no legal notice at all. By means of these evasive tactics, we protect our identities, our privacy, our life even, maybe.