european-court-says-linking-to-illegal-content-is-copyright-infringement

The facts of the present case were egregious but the law created by the court is bad for the internet.

In a decision that is already controversial, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled in favor of copyright owners and against hyperlinks. The CJEU decision, though qualified, raises the strong possibility that publishers linking to infringing third party sites will also be liable for infringement.

Critics charge the CJEU decision amounts to judicial lawmaking and is an attack on the free flow of information online, contrary to the way the internet has operated to date. It also places a burden of investigation on the linking publisher to determine whether the linked content is authorized or infringing. In some cases that may be easy to determine but in many others it won’t be.

The facts of the present case were egregious but the law created by the court is bad for the internet.

The copyrighted material at issue in the case, GS Media vs Sanoma, were photos (presumably nude) of Dutch celebrity Britt Dekker, which were owned by the Dutch edition of Playboy, published by Sanoma. Here are the facts as explained by the CJEU

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