EU court says aggregation services don't need permission to link to news articles

A ruling by the European Union Court of Justice earlier this month could have a big impact on media websites.

The ruling affects hyperlinks to articles on other sites, and could result in more EU media organisations using paywalls.

The case involved was Svensson and others v Retriever Sverige.

Four Swedish journalists took action against a media monitoring and aggregation service that provided links to their articles that had been published on other sites.

They complained to a Swedish court that the service breached their right to authorise who published their copyright work. They lost, appealed, and the case was referred to the EU Court of Justice.

The EU judges said the aggregation service did not need the journalists’ permission to link to copyright work that was freely accessible on another site. They ruled that when the journalists published their work, they were making it available to everyone, via hyperlinks.

The company would only breach copyright if the link communicated the article to a new audience … one that the journalists did not intend. For instance, to paying subscribers.
The ruling is binding on all EU states. It is good news for news aggregation services. But potentially bad news for news organisations.

Cleland Thom runs distance learning courses in media law

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