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Web Browsing Isn't Copyright Infringement, Rules EU Court of Justice 79

Posted by timothy
from the this-is-a-court-of-law dept.
mpicpp (3454017) writes with this news from Ars Technica: 'Europeans may browse the Internet without fear of infringing copyrights, as the EU Court of Justice ruled Thursday in a decision that ends a four-year legal battle threatening the open Internet. It was the European top court's second wide-ranging cyber ruling in less than a month. The court ruled May 13 that Europeans had a so-called "right to be forgotten" requiring Google to delete "inadequate" and "irrelevant" data upon requests from the public. That decision is spurring thousands of removal requests. In this week's case, the court slapped down the Newspaper Licensing Agency's (NLA) claim that the technological underpinnings of Web surfing amounted to infringement. The court ruled that "on-screen copies and the cached copies made by an end-user in the course of viewing a website satisfy the conditions" of infringement exemptions spelled out in the EU Copyright Directive. The NLA's opponent in the case was the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA). The PR group hailed the decision.'
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Web Browsing Isn't Copyright Infringement, Rules EU Court of Justice

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  • WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05, 2014 @05:06PM (#47175007)

    Why would the newspapers want it to be illegal to view their websites?

    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by internerdj (1319281) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @05:25PM (#47175165)
      Because if they can make it illegal to view their content on a computer they can go back to the more controllable form of print media.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Because if they can make it illegal to view their content on a computer they can go back to the more controllable form of print media.

        I cannot imagine a set of non-apocalyptic circumstances that would ever coax the cat back into that particular bag.
        It's just beyond me. You win, Internet; I am undone.

      • ...but isn't this really about information control as opposed to a business model initiative? Print has been dying a slow death for the better part of a decade now.
      • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pepty (1976012) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @07:59PM (#47176145)

        It would give them twin business models: subscriptions for the people willing to pay, infringement shakedowns for the people who aren't willing to pay.

        What I'd like to know is if:

        The court ruled that "on-screen copies and the cached copies made by an end-user in the course of viewing a website satisfy the conditions" of infringement exemptions spelled out in the EU Copyright Directive.

        applies to streaming video websites as well.

      • by jhol13 (1087781)

        No, that is not what they are after. They want you to pay for the information.
        So that you would not get it freely from "illegal" or "gray" (hard to say whether illegal or not) sites.
        So that if you do, they can send you the "600€ or face prosecution" -letter.

      • by pr100 (653298)

        Huh? If the newspapers don't want people to view their content via the web then they should stop publishing it on the web.

    • So they can charge licensing fees for viewing it.

    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05, 2014 @05:48PM (#47175279)

      They didn't. Or they didn't seem to think that's what they were doing.

      They wanted to be able to get higher revenues from certain client companies who pay licensing fees for the right to RE-produce the newspapers' contents on their own web sites, and/or who distribute it to secondary companies.

      As I glean it, those fees are based on the number of end-user copies that are being made. The newspapers wanted to count ... uh, hang on now, this is getting fuzzy. I guess they wanted to count the copies that existed in end-user browser caches as ADDITIONAL copies, so that the bottom line revenues would be higher. Or something. "Its main argument was the cost that the licensing public relations companies pay for the reproductions should factor in to what is temporarily copied on a reader's computer."

      Like I charge you per-copy for reading my paper, and I count the ink that rubs off on your hand as a copy. Also the reflection in your glasses.

      I don't get that it would prevent anyone from reading stuff from their website, because publishing the material would constitute a license to use it, browser cache included. It's strictly a grab for more revenues for this particular redistribution channel.

      Because, you know, revenue.

      • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jc42 (318812) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @06:03PM (#47175401) Homepage Journal

        Like I charge you per-copy for reading my paper, and I count the ink that rubs off on your hand as a copy. Also the reflection in your glasses.

        And there's also the copy from short-term to long-term memory that occurs in your brain when you read an article and actually remember it the next day. Soon they'll be quizzing readers about last-weeks news, and every correct answer means they can charge for the extra copy in your long-term memory.

        Lest you think this is a joke, remember that companies did try to claim that computer backups are legally "copies" that must be paid for to be legal.

        • by ledow (319597)

          Would love to meet the sales rep at a company that tries to charge me for backing up my workplace's software.

          The amount of backups taken and required would make even the cheapest bit of software 10-fold more expensive just because of that clause, and see us move to an alternative. And I do that because my employer needs that kind of data security.

          I bet, even if that were true, there'd always be a competitor who would sell me their competing product but not charge for backups (because, let's face it, they'd

        • by pantaril (1624521)

          And there's also the copy from short-term to long-term memory that occurs in your brain when you read an article and actually remember it the next day. Soon they'll be quizzing readers about last-weeks news, and every correct answer means they can charge for the extra copy in your long-term memory.

          This would be yet another principal problem with copyright in the future, when photorealistic 100% accurate memories will be made possible by computer-brain interfaces and silicon data storage implants. Imagine the cinema warnings: "please turn off your digital memory while watching this movie".

    • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gweihir (88907) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @07:24PM (#47175947)

      Because they are fundamentally stupid. They think that everybody needs to view their sites (i.e. that they have a needed, irreplaceable good), so controlling all access gives them maximum impact. What actually happens is that they are a luxury good and people just stop caring about their product when it gets hard to access. Kind of like the music industry classifying each illegal download as a "lost sale", when the reality is that people just would do without if copying it was difficult. Many younger artists understand that now and are putting samples or their full works on the web, because the only way to make somebody pay for content is if they are willing to pay for content. And for the customers willing to pay, putting everything up for free and asking for donations works just as well and without all the stupidity that DRM and copyright restrictions for non-commercial copying brings with it.

      The newspapers really are are primarily responsible for their own decline.

    • by Elbart (1233584)
      Probably for the same reason they want to get cash from Google for registering their sites for Google News: Greed.
  • Copyright ending (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @05:17PM (#47175101) Homepage
    What we really need is some way to prevent congress from constantly extending copyright, slowly stealing from the public public works.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just make Congress liable for all copyright infringement.

      Come to think of it, we should also make them go to the VA, eat food bought by food stamps, and government housing.

    • by lawnboy5-O (772026) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @05:24PM (#47175149)
      ...or of course, just get rid of congress once and for all and elect working class people who know better from the get-go. It comes down to getting the money out of politics. It's time. Cheers!
      • Re:Copyright ending (Score:4, Informative)

        by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['ish' in gap]> on Thursday June 05, 2014 @05:39PM (#47175239)

        The way Congress currently is, electing middle-class people would be a significant downgrade in their wealth. The median net worth of a Senator is $2.6 million.

        • Yes, I am aware.
        • A few of those people were middle class when they went into Congress. Somehow they miraculously became millionaires while in Congress. Funny how that works.

          • by gurps_npc (621217)
            Not funny at all. Up until this year, it was entirely legal for congressmen to engage in insider trading.
      • SO, you suspect that poorer people would have less incentive to accept "campaign contributions" in exchange for a favourable vote?
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It will certainly have a better effect on the economy, since they are poor it is because of 1 of 2 reasons:

          They are no good at making money (No net change if they get bribed)
          They are really good at spending money (All bribe money flows right back into the economy!).

          I think it is a good thing for the economy to have more poor congresscritters!

          Remember; Rich people are usually a varying combination of:

          1) Don't spend money on shit you don't need (until you have so much that you can afford to spend a tiny tiny

          • 1) This isn't going to get the average person rich. The median net worth of a Senator is given as $2.6M above. In order to amass that through thrift alone, over a 50-year career one would have to find $52K to not spend on what one doesn't need each year. That's pretty close to the median family before-tax household income, so the average person would have to avoid spending on things like taxes and food. Thrift is a good idea, and I find a great deal of comfort in living below my means*, but it's not a

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There's an agency that actually has control over that, two of them in fact. One is the President, with the veto power. The other is the Supreme Court with the power to decide what the Constitution means by the limited time clause for patents and copyrights.

      Unfortunately both seem to agree with Congress that life + 90 years is still in effect a limited duration.

  • The Newspaper Licensing Agency should have to pay the government for four years of bullshit.
  • by mpicpp (3454017) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @05:31PM (#47175189)
    To argue that cache files in a web browser is infringement is as silly as claiming that your eye transmitting an image to your brain is infringement...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      To argue that cache files in a web browser is infringement is as silly as claiming that your eye transmitting an image to your brain is infringement...

      Well technically speaking all things digital copy. Wether it's a computer, a router, a network interface card, a graphics card etc... It's Copyright law that is not well defined for this era. If you interpret copyright as it is all computers, tablets even television sets etc.. are infringing devices. So the solutions is : either modify copyright law for the XXIst century and beyond (fat chance of this happening) or you carve out exceptions with the old rotten framework of copyright law.
      And that is what the

      • by vux984 (928602) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @06:42PM (#47175669)

        Copyright law is mostly there. It specifically allows for incidental copies made to use software for example. So you don't need a separate license to move it from the CD to the hard drive, from the hard drive to the drive controller cash, to RAM, to L1 cache, to L2 cache, and to video memory, along with the copy that gets shunted to the backup tape system at night....

        That all media should be extended the same incidental copyright exclusion should be a nobrainer, but yeah, until its settled we get idiots thinking the image on screen is infringement, the image in your browser cache is infringement, and by golly, and if ~thats~ not infringement, then its surely infringment when you do a complete PC back up that night and your browser cache ends up duplicated onto your external USB drive along with everything else. You dirty criminal.

        Good on the EU court for setting a precedent.

    • by dinfinity (2300094) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @05:46PM (#47175269)

      You're right. Clearly we need Brain-HDCP! It would solve everything!
      Kind regards, the MPAA.

      P.S. HNCP would be more apt, I guess.

    • by toejam13 (958243) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @06:02PM (#47175393)

      The stupid thing is that they can block caching of files using HTTP headers...

      Cache-Control: no-cache, no-store, must-revalidate
      Pragma: no-cache
      Expires: 0

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Would it be illegal to intentionally use a http client which disobeys to those headers?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's not the point. Nobody wants you to stop viewing their websites, that would be silly.

      The point is: if it is an "infringing" copy that the owners have the right to restrict, then they have the right to impose whatever extra conditions they want to impose on you in exchange for your "license to view". For instance, a website owner could try to say that you can't view their site in a public place, or show it to more than 3 other people, without paying them a fee. This ruling basically says they have no b

    • To argue that cache files in a web browser is infringement is as silly as claiming that your eye transmitting an image to your brain is infringement...

      Let's not give them any ideas now shall we...

    • by ZorinLynx (31751) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @10:29PM (#47176717) Homepage

      I recall that back in the day, when people started charging for computer software, it was treated as a book. If you paid for the book, it was yours and you could use it for whatever you want.

      Then someone came along and decided that copying the software from disk into memory was considered copyright infringement, and thus you needed a license to do so. Hence the software license and all its associated pain in the ass restrictions was born.

      So basically, these idiots are trying to use the same concept to add additional legal hurdles to simply browsing the web. At least this time, unlike back in the day with software, sanity ended up being victorious.

      • by GTRacer (234395)
        Ah, the amazingly useful Borland "Like a Book" license. As I recall, you could install to your heart's content (possibly limited to your own household or business), subject to the agreement only one person can "borrow the book" at any given time. They didn't manage this with technological measures, just the good ol' fashioned honor system.
  • I wish the EU would stop infringing on America's status as leader of the Free World. USA is land of the free, home of the brave, dammit!

    • by jopsen (885607)

      USA is land of the free,

      Yes, free to be poor... :)

      home of the brave,

      Indeed, cheap guns and poverty is a cocktail only for the brave :)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The EU Court of Justice makes a judgement that is rational, implementable, and conforms to what 99.999% of citizens want, while only PO'ing the remaining 0.001% who, if they cannot accept this judgement, can opt out of publishing on the Internet.

    It's a miracle!!

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