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Hyperlinking Is Not Copyright Infringement, EU Court Rules 97

Posted by timothy
from the just-to-be-safe-please-type-the-link-yourself dept.
Freshly Exhumed writes "Does publishing a hyperlink to freely available content amount to an illegal communication to the public and therefore a breach of creator's copyrights under European law? After examining a case referred to it by Sweden's Court of Appeal, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled today that no, it does not. The Court found that 'In the circumstances of this case, it must be observed that making available the works concerned by means of a clickable link, such as that in the main proceedings, does not lead to the works in question being communicated to a new public.'" Reader Bart Smit points to the court's ruling.
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Hyperlinking Is Not Copyright Infringement, EU Court Rules

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  • DO NOTE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gaygirlie (1657131) <{gaygirlie} {at} {}> on Thursday February 13, 2014 @07:45PM (#46242027) Homepage

    This ruling only applies to copyrighted content that is legally and publicly available. Linking to content that is behind e.g. a paywall would constitute a copyright-infringement. Similarly, it doesn't rule that linking to publicly available, but unauthorized content would be legal, that is an entirely different matter.

    Why is this ruling important, then? Well, it could be used as a stepping-stone for more in-depth ruling about linking to content, like e.g. the aforementioned unauthorized content. Similarly, many journalists, newspapers and whatnot have been sued in the recent past for copyright-infringement simply for linking to an article on another newspapers' website. Some companies are even trying to extort money from Google and other search-engines for the same thing, so now they could possibly use this ruling as a defense. Search-engines aren't journalists, that's true, but a new ruling could be based on this one and grant search-engines the same rights in hyperlinking.

  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jake Sylvestre (3536917) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @07:48PM (#46242039)
    Search is hyperlinking..
  • Re:Internet 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @07:49PM (#46242057) Journal

    The internet before search depended on hyperlinking.

    Even that aside, 'hyperlinking' is pretty much an improved flavor of citation. If you are going to ban 'hyperlinks to illegal material' you are this close to just banning the mere mention of illegal material; except easier to sell because there are scary computer words involved.

    Whether you see this as ironic, or as a continuation of copyright's original purpose, it is simply a matter of fact that the defenders of this sort of 'property' are learning that doing what they want requires rolling back all sorts of long-held rights. Worse, they seem OK with this.

  • Re:TPB legit? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @08:10PM (#46242191)
    That's the same as AllOfMP3. They were 100% legal, but shut down on pressure from the US to shut them down. No arrests. No charges. Just threats until they were shut down. The US believes in freedom of speech, unless they don't like it. hyperlinks are still illegal in the US, and taxpayer money was spent stiffling speech in other countries that didn't harm the US, but some businesses within the US asserted was harmful. Rights are available in the US only if you are rich enough to afford them.
  • by raymorris (2726007) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @11:46PM (#46243161)

    No, it's not similar. In this case, the plaintiff complained that someone linked to them, apparently within a iframe or something. Nobody linked to unlawful or "pirated" material. The (silly) claim was that linking to Slashdot would violate Slashdot's copy rights.

    TBP llinks to unlawful material, and exists primarily for the purpose of assisting in the unlawful distribution of material. They are therefore committing "contributory infringement" - they are contributing to a direct infringement. In the instant case, there is no direct infringement for anyone to contribute to.

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