While most of us would, I hope, consider this common sense, it is nonetheless nice to have the EU courts confirm it.
This is important because the EU has some of the strongest copyright protection laws, which give authors a great deal of control over their published work.
‘The court had to consider whether by providing links Retriever Sverige had taken part in an “act of communication to the public”. Under EU copyright law, authors have the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit any communication to the public of their works.
The court ruled that the law had not been broken because the articles in question were on Goteborgs-Posten’s website and therefore already “freely available”.
In a statement it said: “The owner of a website may, without the authorisation of the copyright holders, redirect internet users, via hyperlinks, to protected works available on a freely accessible basis on another site.” ‘
A link that would take you behind a pay-wall, that is a different thing…
However, this ruling parallels the victory Connie and Mark Fournier of the now censored Free Dominion had won in Canada’s federal court over Richard Warman, who claimed they had infringed his copyright by linking to an image on his own website. In this particular case, the judge ruled that Warman had complete editorial control over his image and that linking to it, even should a thumbnail be displayed, did not constitute re-publishing it without permission.