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CJEU in very dangerous waters

Posted by on February 6, 2016.

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) is presiding over a case that could effectively destroy the Internet, as we know it. The debate is if a website hyperlinks to content that infringes on copyright laws, does the hyperlink to that freely available media constitute an infringement.

The court heard arguments regarding the GS Media case, in which a popular Dutch blog site posted links to leaked photos on a separate file hosting site.

Late last year, European Parliament member Julia Reda noted the “European Commission is preparing a frontal attack on the hyperlink, the basic building block of the Internet as we know it”

Reda also warned the commission’s decision to “break the Internet” could affect American websites linking to European content. Reda continued, “From a practical standpoint, this law would affect any news aggregator linking to and excerpting works from European content sources, not just EU based aggregators. Each weblink would become a legal landmine and would allow press publishers to hold every single actor on the Internet liable”

In the US a popular news aggregator Matt Drudge is quoted as saying, “I had a Supreme Court Justice tell me it’s over for me. They’ve got the votes now to enforce copyright law, you’re out of there. They’re going to make it so you can’t even use headlines.”

“If the CJEU rules that every web user, in Europe and beyond, is expected to verify the copyright status of every item on a page before linking to that page, it could effectively destroy the web as we know it today,” write Matt Schruers And Jakob Kucharczyk for Project-Disco.org.

The red alert is this – in 2014 the CJEU had to decide whether a link to a newspaper article violates copyright law in the Svensson case. CJEU got it right in that decision. However, my experience and observation of such matters lead me to believe that when the same question of legal nuance is raised repeatedly, the underpinning desire is clear and it is just a matter of time before persistence overcomes liberty.


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Submitted in: Martin Zinaich | Tags: