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BizReport : Blogs & Content archives : April 08, 2016

Linking to copyrighted content does not constitute copyright infringement

There is a big difference between making content available and facilitating content discovery, according to the European Court of Justice who have just ruled on copyright infringement.

by Helen Leggatt

The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice has ruled that linking to websites that contain unlawfully published copyrighted materials is not considered copyright infringement.

It is the opinion of the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice that "hyperlinks which lead, even directly, to protected works are not 'making them available' to the public when they are already freely accessible on another website, and only serve to facilitate their discovery".

The Advocate General went on to explain that, while every act of communication of a copyrighted work must be cleared by the copyright owner, it would be detrimental to the Internet to make hyperlinks fall under these rules.

The case arose few years back when Dutch blog GeenStijl linked to a file locker where users could download leaked photos from a Playboy photo shoot. Playboy requested the blog to take down the links, but the blog site refused, so the publication had the page taken down through the site's ISP.

The blog then retaliated by linking to other sites that were linking to the file locker portal and, eventually, Playboy ended up suing the smaller site.

Until the Court of Justice makes a ruling on the matter, the Advocate General's opinion remains an advisory.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: blog, copyright, Europe, law, online content

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