EU Court Rules Hyperlinking Not Copyright Infringement

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled on February 13 that publishing a hyperlink directing to freely available content does not breach the copyrights of the creator.

Journalists vs Retriever Sverige AB

EU CourtThe case originates from the complaint of some journalists against an Internet-based subscription company Retriever Sverige AB, which apparently indexed links to articles that are available in other sites for free.

 The journalists took their case to the Stockholm District Court, arguing that they deserve compensation for the company’s act of communicating their works to the public without permission. The 2010 lawsuit was dismissed, and the journalists appealed their case before reaching the EU Court.

Not copyright infringement

The Court published a lengthy ruling dismissing the 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.

“The public targeted by the initial communication consisted of all potential visitors to the site concerned, since, given that access to the works on that site was not subject to any restrictive measures, all Internet users could therefore have free access to them.

“Therefore, since there is no new public, the authorization of the copyright holders is not required for a communication to the public such as that in the main proceedings,” wrote the court.