publishers who knowingly link to illegally uploaded content are liable
for copyright infringement, according to a European Court of Justice
ruling that could have broad consequences for digital media.
院(European Court of
The ruling, which marks the culmination of a five-year legal fight
involving a Dutch blog, Playboy magazine and celebrity nude pictures,
draws new lines around what has been a highly contested area of online
Until now, Europe’s top court has tolerated the widespread practice of
providing weblinks to unauthorised online content — whether films,
pictures, video or text — concluding that this did not generally amount
to a breach of copyright.
Instead, the website that hosted the underlying content was liable.
But on Thursday the ECJ decided that linking to such material did
infringe copyright unless it was done without the pursuit of financial
gain by a person who did not know or could not reasonably have known the
illegal nature of the publication.
After Thursday’s ruling, they could be forced to go further by taking
down search results featuring publishers that merely link to other
websites hosting unlicensed content, according to some copyright