PositionEuropean Union Court of Justice

Hyperlinks play a part in public access to information, as long as this information is freely accessible elsewhere on the web: so ruled the EU Court of Justice on 13 February (Case C-466/12). The case was between Swedish journalists, who published on Goteborgs Posten's website, and Swedish company Retriever Sverige. Retriever Sverige operates a website that gives its clients access to clickable links (hyperlinks) to articles published elsewhere on the internet. But the journalists who filed the complaints had not been given a chance to authorise access to the links. As a result, the Svea hovratt (Svea Court of Appeal, Sweden) brought the matter before the ECJ to ascertain whether the provision of such links constitutes "an act of communication to the public" within the meaning of EU law. In its judgement, the ECJ referred to the 2001 directive on copyright. The ECJ holds that the provision of clickable links to protected works constitutes an act of communication.

"The users of Retriever Sverige's site must be deemed to be part of the public already taken into account by the journalists at the time the publication of the articles on the Goteborgs-Posten was authorised. That finding is not called into question by the fact that the internet users who...

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