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German Court Rules Against Author’s Claim for Indemnification

An author’s reputation is not property in the sense that that term is used in the German indemnification laws, the Federal Supreme Court has ruled here in an unusual case.

Prof. Max Apt, a lawyer and economist who was forced to leave Germany under the Nazi regime and returned to the country in 1954, filed a claim for damages he incurred as a result of Nazi policies–the fact that as a result of the burning of his books by the Nazis and his forced emigration from the country, his name had been obliterated from the public consciousness.

Prof. Apt’s claim ultimately reached the high court which ruled that “physical, intellectual and occupational attributes of an individual are a part of his personality, inseparable from their bearer.” It added that even if these attributes were of economic significance, they were implicitly not property but personal values. Prof. Apt died last year before the high court had acted on his appeal.