(credit: Hernán Piñera)
Europe’s highest court is considering whether every hyperlink in a Web page should be checked for potentially linking to material that infringes copyright, before it can be used. Such a legal requirement would place an unreasonable burden on anyone who uses hyperlinks, thereby destroying the Web we know and love.
The current GS Media case examining hyperlinks builds on an earlier ruling by the European Union’s Court of Justice (CJEU) in 2014. In that case, known as Svensson, the court decided that netizens didn’t need a licence from the copyright holder to link to an article that had already been posted on the Internet, where previous permission had been granted by the copyright owner.
Although that was good news for the online world, it left open a related question: what would the situation be if the material that was linked to had not been posted with the copyright owner’s permission? Would it still be legal under EU law to link to that pirated copy? Those are the issues that the latest CJEU case seeks to resolve for the whole of the 28-member-state bloc, and its 500 million citizens.
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