Spanish Court Rules That Linking to Potential Copyright Infringing Material Is Not Copyright Infringement
Posted in: Legal, Privacy & Security at 07/08/2011 14:53
We all know that HTML links are the heart of the World Wide Web. What many don't appreciate is that legal liability for linking varies greatly across countries. Given the importance of linking to the World Wide Web, whether websites can be held liable for copyright infringement for linking to material that is potentially copyright-infringing is a key issue. While US copyright law has a safe harbor for websites that provide location tools, the European framework for e-commerce does not have a specific limitation on liability for websites that provide links.
As a result, courts in different EU member states have developed different standards for linking liability. In recent years, Spanish courts have issued several inconsistent rulings on whether websites containing links to potentially copyright-infringing material on peer-to-peer networks violate copyright owners' exclusive right under Spanish law of making available copyrighted works. But now a recent decision of the influential Court of Appeals of Barcelona (Audiencia Provincial de Barcelona) in the case of Indice-web has clarified that merely providing a link is not "making available" content, and does not infringe copyright.