A European Union court ruled on Thursday that hyperlinks are not copyright infringement. In other words, the court decided not to ruin the Internet. In a case brought to our attention by TorrentFreak, the EU’s Court of Justice ruled in favor of Retriever Sverige AB, a service that collects links to free articles. Back in 2010, Swedish journalists were upset at Retriever for making their work public and felt they should be compensated. They lost the case, but appealed to the Stockholm District Court, which in turn asked the EU Court of Justice to decide. Fortunately, common sense prevailed, and as a result, so did the Web.
“The public targeted by the initial communication consisted of all potential visitors to the site concerned, since, given that access to the works on that site was not subject to any restrictive measures, all Internet users could therefore have free access to them,” the court ruled.
However, the court did place some limited restrictions on linking. The court ruled that a link that helps a user bypass a paywall or a subscription could be considered copyright infringement.
Still, this ruling is good news for anyone who has ever posted a link to Twitter or Facebook, which is just about everyone.