Europe (Finally) Decides Links Are Not Copyright Infringement

Feb 18, 2014

European courts ruled on a question many of us already thought was answered. According to Gigaom, the EU's highest court decided that linking from one website to another does not constitute copyright infringement.

The ruling is heralded as a victory, but the question it was answering was confusing, if not unnecessary. As Gigaom puts it, "In the ruling, the Court of Justice of the European Union explained that links...don't deprive authors of their right to make their work available to the public. The reason is that the author has made the work public in the first place, and all a link does is act as a pointer to the work."

If you are reading this post in North America, the idea that anyone would be debating the legality of links seems like a waste of time, but in Europe, some news organizations are still fighting this foundation of the web. Because it would be impossible to link to a work that had not already been published the idea that anyone linking to a work could be depriving "authors of their right to make their work available to the public" seems completely backward, and the case probably should have been thrown out of court. Luckily, the courts got this one right.