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EU rules linking, embedding is not infringement

EU rules linking, embedding is not infringement

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that linking to or embedding publicly-accessible content cannot be considered infringement of the original author's copyright.

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that publishing links to or embedding existing publicly-accessible content is not enough to be found guilty of copyright infringement, in a move which is likely to allow EU-based search businesses to breathe easier.

Referred to the Court of Justice by the Swedish Court of Appeal, the case referred to specifically to claims that a content aggregation service, Retriever Sverige AB, had breached copyright by providing its subscribers with links to articles written for the Göteborgs-Posten newspaper without providing compensation to the authors. Retriever claimed that providing links to content freely available elsewhere - and even embedding said content directly on its own site - did not constitute copyright infringement; the copyright holders, meanwhile, claimed that the company's actions constituted unauthorised communication of a copyright work to the public, and that payments were due.

The case was dismissed in 2010, but the copyright holders appealed against the ruling. Now, four years later, have received a formal and final decision: linking is not copyright infringement.

'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,' the ruling explains. 'Therefore, since there is no new public, the authorisation of the copyright holders is not required.'

While the ruling is generally in favour of free and open linking and embedding of internet content, the judiciary did warn of one instance where such re-communication would constitute copyright infringement: 'Where a clickable link makes it possible for users of the site on which that link appears to circumvent restrictions [such as paywalls or subscription requirements] put in place by the site on which the protected work appears in order to restrict public access to that work to the latter site’s subscribers only, and the link accordingly constitutes an intervention without which those users would not be able to access the works transmitted, all those users must be deemed to be a new public,' the ruling warns, which would indeed require authorisation - and, likely, a payable licence - from the original copyright holder.

The full ruling has been published on the Court's official site.

10 Comments

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Umbra 14th February 2014, 12:05 Quote
I'd not heard of this before but it's just as well that linking has been ruled not to be an infringement as this forum and many others would be rather bare with no videos, pictures or links, jeez, just imagine nothing but us lot shouting at each other it would be like a yahoo group, but even worse, if that's possible :?
theshadow2001 14th February 2014, 13:51 Quote
Does this mean that there is nothing illegal about the pirate bay, since its essentially linking to files which are hosted on peoples computers?
faugusztin 14th February 2014, 13:57 Quote
@theshadow2011: No. This is about content made publicly available for free by the owner of the content; in other words, this is pretty much about Google News types of service. If you have a content which is not behind a paywall, then you aren't breaking the copyright of the original owner if you take the title, exempt from the content and link to the original article. If Google News would link behind the paywall, bypassing it, it would be illegal.

So no, this doesn't "make Pirate Bay legal", because the original content is not publicly available for free in first place.
Gareth Halfacree 14th February 2014, 16:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by faugusztin
@theshadow2011: No. This is about content made publicly available for free by the owner of the content; in other words, this is pretty much about Google News types of service. If you have a content which is not behind a paywall, then you aren't breaking the copyright of the original owner if you take the title, exempt from the content and link to the original article. If Google News would link behind the paywall, bypassing it, it would be illegal.
This. Although, interestingly, Google *does* bypass certain paywalls - although not deliberately. Have a browse of the Financial Times or Wall Street Journal websites. Click on stories til you hit the paywall. Copy the headline of the story you're trying to read and paste it into a Google search. Click on the relevant result. Ta-da: the whole story, complete and unredacted, with no need to subscribe.

I say 'not deliberately,' 'cos the reason that works is that sites allow Google to see the whole content so that it can search based on the whole content; the fact that clicking a Google link allows you to see the whole content as well as Google's spider is a handy byproduct for anyone without the cash to spare on a subscription.

Not that you heard that trick from me, of course.
theshadow2001 14th February 2014, 16:10 Quote
That's the wall streets journal fault for not taking the necessary precautions to protect their material.

Although something tells me they allow this back door on purpose. As they must have their head under a rock if they don't realise this is happening.
Dave Lister 14th February 2014, 16:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshadow2001
Does this mean that there is nothing illegal about the pirate bay, since its essentially linking to files which are hosted on peoples computers?

It may be being made legal..."as a court in The Hague ruled that Dutch ISPs need to stop blocking the site after the ban proved ineffective against piracy."

And since the article is about posting links: http://rt.com/news/court-unblock-pirate-bay-308/
That link is where I first heard the news.
John_T 14th February 2014, 17:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
Although, interestingly, Google *does* bypass certain paywalls - although not deliberately. Have a browse of the Financial Times or Wall Street Journal websites. Click on stories til you hit the paywall. Copy the headline of the story you're trying to read and paste it into a Google search. Click on the relevant result. Ta-da: the whole story, complete and unredacted, with no need to subscribe.

I say 'not deliberately,' 'cos the reason that works is that sites allow Google to see the whole content so that it can search based on the whole content; the fact that clicking a Google link allows you to see the whole content as well as Google's spider is a handy byproduct for anyone without the cash to spare on a subscription.

Not that you heard that trick from me, of course.

Just tried it on a couple of Lex articles from the FT, (just to satisfy my curiosity that this works of course). Have to say, not working for me...
Gareth Halfacree 14th February 2014, 21:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by John_T
Just tried it on a couple of Lex articles from the FT, (just to satisfy my curiosity that this works of course). Have to say, not working for me...
Works fine for me. Went onto FT.com, clicked on the story "Italy's prime minister Letta resigns" at random, hit the paywall:

http://gareth.halfacree.co.uk/pubimages/ftdirect.png

Typed the headline into the search bar, clicked the Google link, got the full article and no paywall prompt:

http://gareth.halfacree.co.uk/pubimages/ftgoogle.png

Not sure why it doesn't work for you, I'm afraid.
mrbens 16th February 2014, 15:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by John_T

Just tried it on a couple of Lex articles from the FT, (just to satisfy my curiosity that this works of course). Have to say, not working for me...

If you get the following prompt when accessing the article through google then just click any 2 answers to the questions it asks you then you can read the article for free:

"To read the full article please do one of the following:"

I don't think it works for the Lex articles though as google doesn't have direct link to the actual articles and just sends you here: http://www.ft.com/lex/indepth
John_T 17th February 2014, 13:07 Quote
Ah, you've got the answer there mrbens - I just happened to choose the section that they do actually protect!

Nice tip Gareth, not that I ever intend to use it of myself course - like I said, purely an exercise in intellectual curiosity...
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