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Hyperlinking to unlawfully published copyright images is still legal, says top European judge

Peter Sayer | April 8, 2016
The opinion of the attorney general of the Court of Justice of the EU is not binding on the court.

If the CJEU follows the advocate general's opinion, then it will be good news for GeenStijl and its particular style of irreverent blogging -- but also for websites across the EU.

A different ruling from the CJEU could oblige sites to verify that everything they link to is published with the authorization of the copyright holder -- or to not hyperlink at all.

"If users were at risk of proceedings for infringement of copyright ... whenever they post a hyperlink to works freely accessible on another website, they would be much more reticent to post them, which would be to the detriment of the proper functioning and the very architecture of the internet, and to the development of the information society," Wathelet wrote in his opinion.

The CJEU will now begin considering its judgment on the points of law. It will then be up to the Dutch court to apply the ruling, which courts in other EU member states must also apply when faced with similar questions.


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