Linking to freely available content is not copyright infringement — the CJEU’s decision in Svensson v Retriever Sverige

In one of the most eagerly anticipated decisions on copyright, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has decided that internet users can use hyperlinks to redirect users to copyright works on other websites without infringing copyright, on one condition. The condition is that the copyright works are ‘freely available’ on the other site. Linking which, for example, goes behind a pay wall without authority would be an infringement.

The implication is that everyday users of links to freely available, legitimate third-party content will not thereby infringe copyright. It is a sensible carve-out that linking to content that has access restrictions (for example a pay wall) could still be an infringement where those restrictions are circumvented. The decision is consistent with the 2003 German Supreme Court decision in Paperboy and the 2007 US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal decision in Perfect 10

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