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Imperial Press Law (May 7, 1874)

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§ 28. During the duration of the confiscation, the dissemination of the printed matter affected by it, or the reprint of the passages provoking it, is inadmissible.

Anyone with knowledge of the confiscation who acts contrary to this regulation will be punished by a fine of up to 500 marks or imprisonment of up to six months.

§ 29. Sole jurisdiction over decisions on transgressions committed by the press also rests with the courts in those federal states where the administrative authorities are still responsible for the sentencing of these offences.

As far as the involvement of the public prosecutor’s office in courts of the lowest instance is not mandatory in the individual federal states, the files in the cases of confiscations effected without judge’s order are to be presented to the court immediately.*

VI. Final Regulations

§ 30. For the time being, the special legal regulations that exist with respect to the press in times of impending war, of war, of a declared state of siege, or of domestic political unrest (uprising) remain in force in this law as well.

The right of state legislators to pass regulations concerning public posting, fastening, and exhibiting of announcements, posters, and proclamations, as well as their free and public distribution, is not affected by this law.

The same applies to the regulations of state laws with respect to free copies in libraries and public collections.

Barring any general business tax based on state laws, no particular taxation of the press and of individual press products (newspaper or calendar stamp tax, taxes on advertisements, etc.) can take place.

§ 31. This law takes effect on July 1, 1874.

Its introduction in Alsace-Lorraine is subject to a special law.**

* § 29 para. 2 became invalid because of §§ 12 ff. of the Law on the Constitution of the Courts dated January 27, 1877 (RGBl. [Reich Law Gazette], 77).
** The Imperial Press Law was introduced, with the exception of §§ 14, 23-29, and 31, in Alsace-Lorraine by state law on August 8, 1898 (GBl. [Law Gazette], 73).

Source: Reichsgesetzblatt [Federal Law Gazette], 1874, pp. 65ff.

Original German text reprinted in Ernst Rudolf Huber, ed., Dokumente zur Deutschen Verfassungsgeschichte [Documents on German Constitutional History], 3rd rev. ed., vol. 2, 1851-1900. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1986, pp. 455-60.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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