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Playboy success in CJEU hyperlinks copyright case

Written by Ellis Sweetenham on 09 September 2016

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After much debate, the Court of Justice for the European Union has ruled in favour of Playboy in an argument over the use of hyperlinks leading to copyrighted content.

The case ignited after a Dutch website, Geenstijl, which is operated by GS Media, posted linked to another site that were using photographs from Playboy without their permission.

The ruling of the court was that this constituted copyright infringement as it was motivated by profit.

This decision has gone against the opinion of a number of people including the EU Advocate General Melchior Wathelet how stated that he did not believe the hyperlinks and their use did not interfere with the existing copyright.

The court went further in their judgment stating that the posting of the links constituted a ‘communication to the public’ which means they have a duty to ensure that the said communication did not include any unauthorised content. This duty to check for illegal content is more important when they have been posted for profit.

Commenting on the decision, GS Media’s lawyer stated that the restricting the use of hyperlinks will restrict the freedom on the internet.

Ultimately, Remy Chavannes the lawyer has said that "The mere uncertainty about potential infringement claims will encourage both media outlets and individuals to refrain from linking, leading to less verifiable journalism and a less open internet."

This case has been a long time coming and it will be interesting to see how future cases will apply this judgment.

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