CJEU Judgment Will Help Rightsholders Create New Services for Consumers and Protect Their Content Online

February 13, 2014

Today, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) handed down a significant judgment in the Svensson case confirming that linking to protected content that is made available without consent, or made available on a restricted access basis, for example on legal video steaming platforms, infringes copyright.

This is an important judgment because it clarifies the concept of what constitutes an act of communication to the public with regard to linking.  More importantly though, it reinforces the legal framework to develop legitimate online services for  consumers.  Today, Europeans have access to more legal sites on a variety of devices than ever before, including over 3,000 on demand video services.

The movie industry is working every day to develop new, innovative and consumer-friendly legitimate platforms to deliver the shows and movies audiences want.  The harsh reality is that the growth of the legal market is constantly hindered by sites that provide protected content without permission free of charge.  With this judgment, the CJEU confirms that the rightsholders have the power to define what public their protected work is intended for.  Any link that would create other than the originally intended public constitutes an unauthorized act of communication to the public and thereby infringes copyright.

In the Nils Svensson and Others v Retriever Sverige AB verdict, the court states that if the rightsholder makes available a work without restrictions on the Internet, any linking to that content would not create a new public and is therefore authorized.

We have always defended the fact that if there are creators who wish to offer their work to the public at no cost and without any restrictions – they have every right to do so.  But for those who create content for a living, they should not have to accept a world in which their content can be highjacked, for example through illegal linking and torrent sites, without consequences.  Today’s judgment reconfirms this fundamental fact and will push pirate sites further into the dark shadows of the Internet.

Today’s judgment further supports the view that the EU’s copyright regime is fit for purpose.  The CJEU and national courts can provide important interpretations as and when needed.