Articles

Svensson-case: European Court of Justice rules hyperlinking to protected works can be done without consent

Svensson-case: European Court of Justice rules hyperlinking to protected works can be done without consent

Svensson-case: European Court of Justice rules hyperlinking to protected works can be done without consent

15.07.2014

In 2012, the Court of Appeal of Svea (Sweden) submitted to the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) preliminary questions on whether providing hyperlinks constitutes an act of communication to the public under Directive 2001/29/EC (the “Copyright Directive”). This Directive stipulates that authors have the exclusive right to authorize or prohibit any communication of their works to the public.

The background facts of this specific case are the following: news articles from the daily newspaper Göteborgs-Posten are published on its own website which is freely accessible. A Swedish company, called Retriever Sverige, provides its clients with hyperlinks to news articles that are published on
other websites, including that of Göteborgs-Posten. The journalists who were authors of those articles saw this hyperlinking as a breach of their copyright.

On 13 February 2014 the ECJ ruled that a clickable hyperlink to an authorized publicly available work does not infringe the “communication to the public” right because there is no communication to another, new public. In other words: while a link is an act of making available and where a work is already freely accessible on the Internet, then that act of making available does not require the consent of copyright holders because that act does not communicate the work to a “new public”. The ECJ indicates that a new public is a public that has not been taken into account by the copyright holders at the time the initial communication was authorized. And there is no such “new public” from the website operated by Retriever Sverige.

The ECJ’s conclusion is that website owners are allowed to redirect Internet users, via hyperlinks, to protected works that are available in a freely accessible basis on another site, without the authorization of the copyright holders. It must be kept in mind that different considerations apply regarding the situation where a hyperlink takes you to a website that is not freely available. Furthermore, the ECJ concluded that the Member States do not have the right to give wider protection to copyright holders by broadening the concept of “communication to the public”.

The case (C-466/12) can be found on http://www.curia.europa.eu

 

Click here to see a printable version of this article

All rights reserved. Care has been taken to ensure that the content of this e-bulletin is as accurate as possible. However the accuracy and completeness of the information in this e-bulletin, largely based upon third party sources, cannot be guaranteed. The materials contained in this e-bulletin have been prepared and provided by Stibbe for information purposes only. They do not constitute legal or other professional advice and readers should not act upon the information contained in this e-bulletin without consulting legal counsel. Consultation of this e-bulletin will not create an attorney-client relationship between Stibbe and the reader. The e-bulletin may be used only for personal use and all other uses are prohibited.

Team

Related news

20.09.2022 EU law
Launch of Metaverse blog series

Articles - Stibbe launches a new blog series focusing on the legal challenges of the Metaverse. In our upcoming blog posts, we will discuss the legal challenges of NFTs, crypto-assets, Metaverse platforms, crypto exchanges, DAO, and many more.

Read more

28.07.2022 NL law
Zuiver commercieel belang ook gerechtvaardigd belang: Raad van State laat zich er niet over uit

Short Reads - Op 27 juli 2022 heeft de Raad van State bevestigd dat de Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens onterecht een boete van € 575.000 aan VoetbalTV heeft opgelegd. De hoop bestond dat de Afdeling antwoord zou geven op de vraag of de AP terecht of onterecht meent dat een zuiver commercieel belang géén gerechtvaardigd belang kan zijn in de zin van de Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming. Het antwoord op deze vraag blijft echter uit.  

Read more

28.07.2022 NL law
Purely commercial interest also a legitimate interest? Council of State leaves the question unanswered.

Short Reads - On 27 July 2022, the Council of State confirmed that the Dutch Data Protection Authority wrongly imposed a €575,000 fine on VoetbalTV. But the Council did not answer the question whether the AP rightly or wrongly believes that a purely commercial interest cannot be a legitimate interest within the meaning of the General Data Protection Regulation.

Read more