There was a very interesting article published by of Project Disco on how Europe is viewing links with relation to copyright law.
That’s right links, the driving force of the Internet, I don’t think I have ever spoken with anyone that thinks they should have copyright protection.
Europe’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), has made a ruling that will cause many to take a step back and say Wait, What ?
The case and ruling in question which can be viewed here, was a case where the publication probably knew that the photos were not cleared by the IP holder. But the ruling by the CJEU makes everyone responsible for every link to every piece of content out there. Perhaps you are linking to a website that has a picture that the website did not properly license. You would have no way of knowing that in many cases.
Here is paragraph 51
Furthermore, when the posting of hyperlinks is carried out for profit, it can be expected that the person who posted such a link carries out the necessary checks to ensure that the work concerned is not illegally published on the website to which those hyperlinks lead, so that it must be presumed that that posting has occurred with the full knowledge of the protected nature of that work and the possible lack of consent to publication on the internet by the copyright holder. In such circumstances, and in so far as that rebuttable presumption is not rebutted, the act of posting a hyperlink to a work which was illegally placed on the internet constitutes a ‘communication to the public’ within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29.
Maud accurately points out in her article the problems with this ruling.
Any for-profit website, (including journalists and potentially blogs with ads, among others) would have to conduct checks with regards to the legality of the content before linking – irrespective of the fact that no one, when looking at a webpage, can know whether it is infringing or not copyright, and who owns the rights. And that’s without even reminding everyone that webpages are dynamic… And that the content there on day 1 can have changed on day 2.
So it will be interesting to see how thing move forward, but links getting copyright protection could prove very cumbersome for Europe and those doing business there domestically and internationally.
Read the full story here