Friday, February 14, 2014

Landmark Decision by European Court of Justice: Links to Otherwise Free Public Content Do Not Violate Copyright Law

The European Court of Justice could not have timed it better, in view of transatlantic discussions taking place as members of the US Supreme Court, past and present, visit Luxembourg.

As reported at the Wall Street Journal in Luxembourg Links In, the European Court of Justice has issued a landmark judgment holding that links to otherwise freely available, unrestricted content do not violate copyright law:
"The owner of a website may, without the authorisation of the copyright holders, redirect internet users, via hyperlinks, to protected works available on a freely accessible basis on another site."
Publicly available content of course still retains its normal copyright protection, so it would be illegal to "post" such content (e.g. images) on one's own web site without the express permission of the copyright holder.

The court also emphasized that it remains illegal -- without express permission from copyright holders -- to circumvent restrictions on content via clickable links. Accordingly, restricted content remains restricted and can not be linked in order to bypass things like paywalls.

Sources are:

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