ECJ advocate general: hyperlinks to copyrighted material do not count as copyright infringement

According to the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) Advocate General, links to websites that publish copyrighted material without the authorisation of the owner cannot be held accountable for copyright infringement. The case emerged in the Netherlands, where a website had provided a link to an Australian site that portrayed photos taken by Playboy magazine – without Playboy’s consent. The Advocate General argues that ‘the posting on a website of a hyperlink to another website on which works protected by copyright are freely accessible to the public without the authorisation of the copyright holder does not constitute an act of communication to the public.’ Furthermore, it is not important for the person posting the hyperlink to be aware whether the copyright holder has or has not authorised the content on another website. The opinion of the Advocate General is not binding, although the court usually follows the advice.