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Linking to illicit content - lawful or unlawful conduct?

Wilkens, Simon LU (2016) JURM02 20161
Department of Law
Abstract
This essay specifically concerns itself with how the EU regulates the activity of using hyperlinks on the internet in connection with copyright protected material. Although there has been prior case-law dealing with this relationship, it is still unclear whether the publishing of a hyperlink which directs the internet user towards unlawfully uploaded copyright protected works, which are freely accessible, constitutes an infringement of the author’s rights. This is the main question in a proceeding currently lodged at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). If deemed unlawful, it would mean that the use of a hyperlink in said manner would constitute an act of communication to the public in accordance with art. 3(1) of Directive... (More)
This essay specifically concerns itself with how the EU regulates the activity of using hyperlinks on the internet in connection with copyright protected material. Although there has been prior case-law dealing with this relationship, it is still unclear whether the publishing of a hyperlink which directs the internet user towards unlawfully uploaded copyright protected works, which are freely accessible, constitutes an infringement of the author’s rights. This is the main question in a proceeding currently lodged at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). If deemed unlawful, it would mean that the use of a hyperlink in said manner would constitute an act of communication to the public in accordance with art. 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (ISD). In addition, the essay discusses how this ruling, deeming this activity either lawful or unlawful, will affect both the right holder and the general users of the internet.

After the introduction, the essay in chapter 2 begins with a brief discussion on how the EU legal body is constructed. This is then followed by a somewhat lengthier discussion of the role of the CJEU as it is with this Court that the answer the stated question ultimately lies. Chapter 3 of the essay discusses what the internet is as well as the different types of links that can be used within it. Chapter 4 gives a general overview of how copyright legislation has developed on the EU-level, and what has influenced it. Chapter 5 discusses the most prominent features of the ISD with a focus on the right holder’s right of communication to the public. The essay then in chapter 6 specifically discusses how this right has developed in an internet context by analyzing CJEU case-law that has dealt with some of the provisions of the ISD. This continues in chapter 7, but this chapter instead focuses on the case currently pending before the CJEU that will ultimately resolve the first of the stated questions of which there recently has been an opinion of the Advocate General published. Chapter 8 discusses all of the findings above and these are then brought together in a final conclusion.

It is concluded that the answer to the principal question of the essay, whether one lawfully can link to illicitly uploaded content that is freely accessible on the internet, is not definitively ascertained. (Less)
Popular Abstract (Swedish)
Denna uppsats handlar om hur EU-lagstiftningen reglerar användningen av hyperlänkar på internet mot bakgrund av det skydd som finns för upphovsrättsligt skyddat material. Även om detta förhållande har behandlats i tidigare EU-rättslig praxis kvarstår oklarheter. Uppsatsen vill närmare bestämt svara på frågan huruvida publiceringen av en hyperlänk som styr internetanvändare mot olovligt uppladdade men fritt tillgängliga verk, skyddade av upphovsrätt, utgör en överträdelse av upphovsmannens rättigheter. Detta är huvudfrågan i ett ärende som för närvarande väntar på domslut från Europeiska unionens domstol (EU-domstolen). Om det anses olagligt, skulle det innebära att användningen av en hyperlänk, skulle innebära en överföring till... (More)
Denna uppsats handlar om hur EU-lagstiftningen reglerar användningen av hyperlänkar på internet mot bakgrund av det skydd som finns för upphovsrättsligt skyddat material. Även om detta förhållande har behandlats i tidigare EU-rättslig praxis kvarstår oklarheter. Uppsatsen vill närmare bestämt svara på frågan huruvida publiceringen av en hyperlänk som styr internetanvändare mot olovligt uppladdade men fritt tillgängliga verk, skyddade av upphovsrätt, utgör en överträdelse av upphovsmannens rättigheter. Detta är huvudfrågan i ett ärende som för närvarande väntar på domslut från Europeiska unionens domstol (EU-domstolen). Om det anses olagligt, skulle det innebära att användningen av en hyperlänk, skulle innebära en överföring till allmänheten i enlighet med art. 3 (1) Europaparlamentets och rådets direktiv 2001/29/EG om harmonisering av vissa aspekter av upphovsrätt och närstående rättigheter i informationssamhället. Dessutom diskuterar uppsatsen hur ett domslut som innebär att denna aktivitet är antingen laglig eller olaglig kommer att påverka både rättighetsinnehavare och internetanvändare.

Efter uppsatsens inledning börjar kapitel 2 med en kort diskussion om hur EU:s lagstiftning är utformad. Detta följs sedan av en något längre diskussion om EU-domstolens roll och arbetssätt eftersom det är denna domstol som kommer att ge svaret på uppsatsens huvudfråga. Kapitel 3 diskuterar vad internet är och de olika typer av länkar som finns. Kapitel 4 ger en allmän översikt över hur lagstiftningen om upphovsrätt har utvecklats på EU-nivå, och vad som har påverkat den. Kapitel 5 diskuterar några av de viktigaste bestämmelserna i ovan nämnda direktiv med fokus på rättighetsinnehavarna rätt att överföra sina verk till allmänheten. Uppsatsen diskuterar sedan, mera specifikt, i kapitel 6 hur denna rättighet har utvecklats i relation till internet genom att analysera EU-domstolens rättspraxis som har behandlat detta förhållande tidigare. Detta fortsätter även i kapitel 7 men här med fokus på det domstolsförfarande hos EU-domstolen som kommer att svara på uppsatsens huvudfråga. Vad gäller detta ärende har nyligen ett yttrande avgivits från Generaladvokaten. Kapitel 8 diskuterar därefter resultatet av undersökningen och slutligen görs en sammanfattande konklusion.

Svaret på huvudfrågan i uppsatsen, d.v.s. frågan om man lagligen kan länka till olagligt uppladdade verk som är fritt tillgängliga på internet, är att den ännu inte har fått ett definitivt svar. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Wilkens, Simon LU
supervisor
organization
alternative title
An assessment of the relationship between art. 3(1) of the Information Society Directive and the use of hyperlinks on the internet.
course
JURM02 20161
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Linking, Information Society Directive, hyperlink, internet, copyright, EU, länkning, länkar, upphovsrätt
language
English
id
8873817
date added to LUP
2016-06-10 14:50:38
date last changed
2016-06-10 14:50:38
@misc{8873817,
  abstract     = {This essay specifically concerns itself with how the EU regulates the activity of using hyperlinks on the internet in connection with copyright protected material. Although there has been prior case-law dealing with this relationship, it is still unclear whether the publishing of a hyperlink which directs the internet user towards unlawfully uploaded copyright protected works, which are freely accessible, constitutes an infringement of the author’s rights. This is the main question in a proceeding currently lodged at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). If deemed unlawful, it would mean that the use of a hyperlink in said manner would constitute an act of communication to the public in accordance with art. 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (ISD). In addition, the essay discusses how this ruling, deeming this activity either lawful or unlawful, will affect both the right holder and the general users of the internet. 

After the introduction, the essay in chapter 2 begins with a brief discussion on how the EU legal body is constructed. This is then followed by a somewhat lengthier discussion of the role of the CJEU as it is with this Court that the answer the stated question ultimately lies. Chapter 3 of the essay discusses what the internet is as well as the different types of links that can be used within it. Chapter 4 gives a general overview of how copyright legislation has developed on the EU-level, and what has influenced it. Chapter 5 discusses the most prominent features of the ISD with a focus on the right holder’s right of communication to the public. The essay then in chapter 6 specifically discusses how this right has developed in an internet context by analyzing CJEU case-law that has dealt with some of the provisions of the ISD. This continues in chapter 7, but this chapter instead focuses on the case currently pending before the CJEU that will ultimately resolve the first of the stated questions of which there recently has been an opinion of the Advocate General published. Chapter 8 discusses all of the findings above and these are then brought together in a final conclusion. 

It is concluded that the answer to the principal question of the essay, whether one lawfully can link to illicitly uploaded content that is freely accessible on the internet, is not definitively ascertained.},
  author       = {Wilkens, Simon},
  keyword      = {Linking,Information Society Directive,hyperlink,internet,copyright,EU,länkning,länkar,upphovsrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Linking to illicit content - lawful or unlawful conduct?},
  year         = {2016},
}