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Legality of linking to contents

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Europe’s highest court (“CJEU”) has recently ruled on a key case that is relevant to all businesses that publish content online.

In the case of GS Media v Sanoma, the claimant had brought a claim for copyright infringement as a result of a third party website linking to content that it owned but which had been published by another party on their website. The claimant argued that linking to the content was an infringement of its copyright. In this specific case, the claimant had complained to the company that had republished its content but they had refused to take it down. Other websites then linked to that content which resulted in the claimant bringing an action. 

The CJEU stated that all EU member states should give copyright owners the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit communications of work but that there should be a “fair balance” between their interest and that of the freedom of expression. 

The court went on to say that in instances where a website publishes content in infringement of the content owner’s copyright, then third parties can be prevented from linking to the infringing content. However, if a business links to content on the copyright owner’s website, or to content on third party websites that have been published with the copyright owner’s consent, then the links do not constitute any infringement of copyright. 

This case has brought much needed clarity to an area of the law that was giving rise to a number of disputes. If you have any copyright or digital publishing matters that you would like our assistance on then please feel free to us.