The European Court of Justice decides about Hyperlinks and Copyright

In the decision of February 13, 2014 (C-466/12) the European Court of Justice came to the conclusion that the owner of an Internet page is allowed to refer to copyright protected works which are accessible through a third party’s Internet page via a hyperlink and without the permission of the copyright owner. The European Court of Justice stated in fact that setting of a hyperlink which leads to a copyright protected work is an act of public reproduction within the meaning of the laws of the European Union; but because the copyright protected work is freely accessible at another Internet page, there is no copyright infringement. The reproduction is, according to the Court, not directed to a new audience, which means an audience which the copyright owner did not want to reach when he allowed the original reproduction. In that respect, it does not play a role whether an Internet user, clicking onto that link, has or does not have the impression that the work is directly accessible via the webpage he is visiting and which contains the link.