Hyperlinks May Infringe Copyright
The Court of Justice of the European Union has cast doubt on the relatively orthodox view that a hyperlink on a website that links to copyrighted material does not constitute an infringement of copyright.
In GS Media BV v Sanoma Media Netherlands BV, Playboy Enterprises International Inc., Britt Geertruida Dekker the ECJ held as follows:
“…. where it is established that such a person knew or ought to have known that the hyperlink he posted provides access to a work illegally published, for example owing to the fact that he was notified thereof by the copyright holders, the provision of that link constitutes a ‘communication to the public’. The same applies if that link allows users to circumvent the restrictive measures taken by the site where the protected work is posted in order to restrict the public’s access to its own subscribers. “
Arguably, this is an example of a court recognizing that in the online world copyright can be undermined directly and indirectly and that those parties who knowingly and for commercial gain procure or facilitate infringement by others should be held to account.
A copy of the Court’s recent press release is available at: