Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
EU The Courts Businesses Communications Network The Internet Your Rights Online

Linking Without Permission Violates Copyright, Rules EU Court (reuters.com) 282

BarbaraHudson writes: Reuters is reporting that Playboy has won a lawsuit against a Netherlands news site for linking to photos without permission: "'It is undisputed that GS Media (which owns GreenStijl) provided the hyperlinks to the files containing the photos for profit and that Sanoma had not authorized the publication of those photos on the internet,' the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) said in a statement. 'When hyperlinks are posted for profit, it may be expected that the person who posted such a link should carry out the checks necessary to ensure that the work concerned is not illegally published.' The European Commission, the EU executive, is set next week to propose tougher rules on publishing copyrighted content, including a new exclusive right for news publishers to ask search engines like Google to pay to show snippets of their articles." Neil_Brown adds: The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled today on whether posting, on a website, hyperlinks to copyright infringing works constitutes a "communication to the public" for the purposes of EU copyright law, an act which requires permission of the rights holder or other authorizing basis. The court held that, if the links are provided "without the pursuit of financial gain by a person who did not know or could not reasonably have known the illegal nature of the publication of those works on that other website," the act of posting the hyperlink is not an infringement of copyright. However, if the links are providing in the pursuit of financial gain, the poster of such links is deemed to have known that they were infringing copyright, unless they can prove otherwise. The court has stated that those sites operating "for profit" are expected to have carried out the (impossible?) "necessary checks to ensure that the work concerned is not illegally published on the website to which those hyperlinks lead." The court does not clarify what is meant by "the pursuit of financial gain." If previous decisions are followed, any sites which host ads (Papasavvas), or perhaps even just accrue value to a brand (if the Advocate General's opinion in McFadden is followed), might be treated as operating for financial gain.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Linking Without Permission Violates Copyright, Rules EU Court

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 08, 2016 @05:28PM (#52850641)

    Farewell. We hardly knew ye.

  • by cigawoot ( 1242378 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @05:31PM (#52850663)

    I guess other countries have to come to their own conclusions, but at least in the US this has been settled. If you don't want something available publicly, put authentication on it. This isn't hard guys.

    You're linking to a party that is legally hosting the content, how is that infringement?

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      This does seem like it would have that effect, or at least a chilling effect on for-profit search engines as they now bear the burden of proof that they did not link illegally to the images. I didn't see anything that would lead me to believe there would be an exception for search engines, although I don't know if they have some other protection. I would have thought the article would have underlined a problem for search engines, though.

      Even if this doesn't affect them it still looks the EU wants a piece

      • by Bryan Ischo ( 893 ) * on Thursday September 08, 2016 @05:55PM (#52850827) Homepage

        I don't see how this burden to search companies is a reason to weaken the rights of copyright holders.

        Image thumbnails in search results would probably be covered under fair use no?

        Frankly I'm surprised that copyright wasn't already enforced this way. Documents viewed on the world wide web are these ethereal things that are composed on the fly by client browser software as instructed by web server software. If the web server software instructs the client software to present a document which mixes non-copyright-infringing and copyright-infringing content, it seems eminently reasonable to me that this would be copyright infringement.

        What if I distributed a bunch of mini printing presses that, when you pressed a button, produced a perfect copy of this year's best selling novel? Sure, I didn't actually distribute the novel, but I enabled a mechanism whereby the user, when using my device as intended, would end up with a copyright infringing document.

        I think of the web browser in the same way. The servers tell it what to display. Therefore, if they tell it to display something that violates copyright, then the server has violated copyright.

        Here's how I would make the rules if I could:

        - Publishing web pages with links to copyrighted content where those links cause the display of the copyrighted content inline in the linking document, would violate copyright
        - Publishing web pages with links to copyrighted content where those links do not cause the display of the copyrighted content inline in the linking document, but instead merely lead the user to the content, would not violate copyright

        Analog: you can publish instructions on where to go to listen to a copyrighted song. You cannot publish a document which plays the copyrighted song to the user.

        • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @06:09PM (#52850909)
          "rights of copyright holders."

          Uh, privileges. Copy"right" is not a natural right (like the right to self-defense), but a privilege granted by society to encourage creation of new works which benefit society. It's a very recent concept, going only back to the 17th/18th centuries.
        • by suutar ( 1860506 )

          Your rules seem to boil down to "embedding is bad, pointing is okay", which doesn't seem unreasonable. But in this case the judge is dinging the news site for pointing to a pointer, so now we're back to "how do we make sure our pointers are safe".

        • by s.petry ( 762400 )

          I don't see how this burden to search companies is a reason to weaken the rights of copyright holders.

          Well then, you are not even trying.

          Image thumbnails in search results would probably be covered under fair use no?

          No, because there is no fair use provision here. If you own and run a pay-for site and link to someone else, you can be penalized for doing so regardless of the reasoning. This leads to abuse like we see constantly in the US with DCMA take down notices.

          Frankly I'm surprised that copyright wasn't already enforced this way. Documents viewed on the world wide web are these ethereal things that are composed on the fly by client browser software as instructed by web server software. If the web server software instructs the client software to present a document which mixes non-copyright-infringing and copyright-infringing content, it seems eminently reasonable to me that this would be copyright infringement.

          You are assuming that all copyright claims are valid, are of a valid duration, and benefit the artist. Fact is however, the overwhelming majority of copyrights are owned by big corporations not artists. Further, a measur

    • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @05:52PM (#52850807)
      "You're linking to a party that is legally hosting the content, how is that infringement?"

      It isn't. It's no different than saying "go to the library to read this book" (although the action of going to the library becomes more automatic, since it's done for the user by the browser). The "linker" isn't involved in either delivering or receiving the content, and they're not a party to any copying. It's entirely up to the content provider if they want to deliver content which is linked from off-site.

      This is just a case of a content provider being lazy by not going through the work of denying content linked from off-site, and trying to push their responsibility onto someone else.

      The decision is a step towards further Balkanization of the web, which is based on hyperlinks.
      • by mrvan ( 973822 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @06:25PM (#52851033)

        As far as I understand the ruling, the infringement is *not* that GS linked to a site where it is legally hosted, but that they are linking to a site that hosts the pictures illegally, and the GS should have known that it was illegal (and you can be damn sure they knew that the linked site was not authorized by the copyright holder)

        So, this case is more akin to pirate bay, which also just hosts links to places where stuff is hosted illegally; and has little to do with linking to something someone intended to distribute on the web.

        Now, whether it should be legal to link to something you know is illegal is another matter. I for one am curious whether the court proceedings contain the hyperlink itself. While the central government is not liable for criminal persecution, it is liable for civil suits...

        • by msauve ( 701917 )
          Makes no difference. "Contributory infringement" is legally bankrupt BS. The offended party simply picked the path of least resistance to prosecute. If some third party was hosting infringing material, they should have gone after them.
      • It's entirely up to the content provider if they want to deliver content which is linked from off-site.

        Off-site is not the criteria here. Commercial use is, and it always has been too. This isn't anything surprising to anyone who's done as much as first year of lawschool. There's a big difference between publishing content, even distributing it widely, and making a profit of the said content. Not the least of which is the subject matter itself may have a problem with it.

        e.g. I take a picture of a pretty girl drinking a black drink. I post it on my site. I link to it on forums and generally share it around. S

        • by msauve ( 701917 )
          "Suddenly Coke-Cola embeds it on their website linking to my site. That now changes everything. "

          It changes nothing. It's up to you whether you serve content referenced through off-site links or not. They're only giving you that choice.

          "This has been bashed around the courts for years with a very consistent result."

          In many instances, the law has no clothes. There's no copying, and the legal power for copyright only covers exclusivity of works. Linking in no way infringes that, as exclusivity remains a d
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 08, 2016 @05:33PM (#52850673)

    ok, so one party puts the pictures onto a public http server, then claims they did not want those pictures publicly available--- and the courts accepted this logic?

    there are other ways besides putting them on a public http server, for those images to be shared with purchasing clients and other select audiences.

    so, linking to files on a public http server is copyright infringement, if the copyright holder made them available, but is really an idiot and did not mean to?

    because that is what i am taking away from this.

    • Linking to photos is a means for having them embedded in content you are serving. You are basically serving to clients instructions on how to compose a displayable document. By linking directly to copyrighted images you are instructing the user's computer to produce a document which is a mix of your content, and copyrighted content.

      Basically this ruling says that instructing client software to present documents which when examined in sum total are copyright infringing, then you have violated copyright, ev

      • by ebyrob ( 165903 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @06:06PM (#52850889)

        A link isn't "instructions". It's just the address of where to find something.

        What you're saying is like prosecuting me for prostitution if I tell you there's a brothel at 411 B street.

        • I just went to 411 B Street, and the lady of the house wasn't all that happy with my inquiry about the "services" offered at her fine establishment.

        • "hyperlinks to copyright infringing works constitutes a "communication to the public" for the purposes of EU copyright law"

          It sounds like there is a clause against merely telling someone where copyrighted work can be found, and because it's part of the copyright law itself, it's a violation of the whole law.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        I'm not sure I like the implications of that line of reasoning, because if you create a derivative work in violation of copyright law through instructions to include referenced content then it stands to reason the same would apply to omissions, making ad blockers illegal. Or at the very least only legal through fair use, which it may or may not be as it ruins the copyright holder's business model. And if that's where you draw the line, you're basically relying on the client's decision to show <a href....

    • by suutar ( 1860506 )

      nope, one party's images were copied illegally onto a server and they're complaining that someone else published a pointer to the server with the illegal copies.

    • ok, so one party puts the pictures onto a public http server, then claims they did not want those pictures publicly available--- and the courts accepted this logic?

      No. One party puts their pictures onto a public server and then claims that another party showing them had no right to make a profit off the photos. And yes courts have accepted this logic since the camera was first invented, just because it's on the internet doesn't mean it's new.

  • by zentigger ( 203922 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @05:39PM (#52850703) Homepage

    So does that mean speaking, writing or otherwise commenting on a copyrighted subject is now a violation of copyright.

    It's the same thing.

    • I might be worried about precedent but this is the EU we're talking about. No one takes their rulings seriously anymore.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      All we can do now is post a random selection of words, names, dates as a list, with the hint to put them into a search engine and the .com brand that should be in the 10 ten results to find the same "news".
      No more links to the EU? No more quotes... from any EU site? The US and soon the UK will still be ok :)
      Maybe multinational search engines should shop listing all EU sites as legal protection for their users by default?
      With the option to risk EU search results sites as a preference setting with a cle
  • by WolfgangVL ( 3494585 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @05:49PM (#52850775)

    Facebook challenged in 3...2....1....

  • And search engines (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phorm ( 591458 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @05:49PM (#52850785) Journal

    are now completely f****'ed....

  • Don't host or own internet company in the EU
    • Or allow any of your internet content to be accessible in the EU

      https://www.theguardian.com/te... [theguardian.com]

      "The Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) ordered Google in May to apply RTBF removals not only to the company’s European domains such as google.co.uk or google.fr, but to the search engine’s global domain google.com."

  • Didn't they also say that unprotected Wi-Fi invites connections? You need to add authentication/encryption to connections for security. Should the linking ruling not then say that you need authentication for all content that you do not want linked? If there is no protection, you then invite said linking?
    • But that would make sense and be logically consistent.

      This ruling comes from the same hard of thinking people that brought you the "right to be forgotten" (right to censor the internet 'because I'm a different person now, honestly').

  • Unity on Slashdot? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @06:38PM (#52851121) Homepage

    I'm genuinely curious:

    Is there anyone here who believes that this is not a completely stupid ruling?

    If so, please explain to the rest of us how pointing to something that is already publicly available (ie published on a web page) could possibly be a violation of copyright.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @09:57PM (#52852099)

      Is there anyone here who believes that this is not a completely stupid ruling?

      Yes me, and I'll gladly explain it.

      If you post a photo publicly you don't magically give up copyright. You still retain all rights to decide how people may use that photo. You post it on your website, it's still your photo. You embed it in a forum post, still your photo. It remains your photo at all times and in some cases you may provide someone else limited rights to use it. E.g. I upload it to a competition there will likely be a release form allowing them to use the photo on their website.

      At no time does making something publicly available give a 3rd party ability to profit from it. Not on the web, not in newspaper publishing, advertising, and not since copyright was first introduced. There's a big difference between commercial use and non commercial use. Had the online newspaper linked to the Playboy site in context rather than directly providing links to photos the ruling would have gone differently. Were the site in question not a news site that makes money from the story about the images where they were publishing the images the ruling would have gone differently.

      This sounds like a perfectly ordinary copyright ruling and as Slashdot's favourite meme goes "ON THE INTERNET" doesn't make something new.

      • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Friday September 09, 2016 @03:35AM (#52853103) Homepage

        You still retain all rights to decide how people may use that photo.

        No, you still retain whatever rights you had. You certainly don't have complete authority to decide how other people may use it. So long as other people use it in a manner which doesn't infringe on your copyright, you can't control them at all, in fact.

        At no time does making something publicly available give a 3rd party ability to profit from it.

        It does for first sale. It does for fair use, if the particular use happens to qualify (commercial uses are fully able to be fair uses). There's a number of other exceptions that can apply as well. For example, if you release a record, other people can record and sell cover versions of it, and the whole intent of this was to allow third parties the ability to profit without the permission of the copyright holder.

        This sounds like a perfectly ordinary copyright ruling

        In fact, this is an asinine ruling. The court got it right before, when it found that linking to a file which had been put up with authorization was not infringing (which the exact thing you've been claiming was infringing, idiot). Here, the difference was that the underlying files had been put up in an infringing manner. But, rather than tell the rights holder to go after the actual wrong-doer who put them up to begin with, they decided to shift liability to third parties who were not responsible for the underlying infringement. It's very reminiscent of the stupid 'right to be forgotten' cases, in that it tries to sweep things under the carpet by imposing liability on the wrong parties just because they're more convenient.

    • Me, I see the tiniest bit of sense in it. Suppose for example, a website links to a full-length, high-rez version of Pirates of the Caribbean on an external website. Whenever it is taken down, they switch the link to another external website hosting the same content. Even though they're just linking to someone else's infringing content and not infringing themselves, I'd consider it to be basically an accomplice to the infringer.

      However, there's no good way to prevent that without massive collateral damage -

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @06:45PM (#52851173) Homepage

    Linking Without Permission Violates Copyright, Rules EU Court

    Eh, not quite, as far as I can tell. Linking to files which already violate copyright themselves has now been ruled to be copyright violation.

    Linking to a BBC news article or a legitimately copyrighted and published YouTube video aren't going to be considered copyright violations.

  • Copy rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gatfirls ( 1315141 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @06:55PM (#52851249)

    It would seem copy has more rights than people.

    • It would seem copy has more rights than people.

      Snide remark right until you realise how royally fucked all parties would be if the person in the photo didn't sign a model release.

  • Goodbye, EU.
    Delinked.
    EUexit.
    Executed.
    404

  • by jdavidb ( 449077 ) on Thursday September 08, 2016 @08:23PM (#52851693) Homepage Journal

    Linking Without Permission

    Linking without permission... Linking without permission? Linking without what? This phrase doesn't even make sense.

  • ... publish the violating website (GreenStijl.nl) in their court documents? And then make these documents available on-line? Because I can see this coming around to bite them in the ass.

  • by Zoxed ( 676559 ) on Friday September 09, 2016 @02:04AM (#52852875) Homepage

    The comments I read seemed to have missed the point that the link was to illegally posted, pre-publication photos. Not just any old link. Just sayin, puts a different angle on the story, although a little less clickbaity!

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351

Working...