A top court in Europe has ruled that the publishers of Playboy magazine can stop GeenStijl, one of the top ten news websites in Netherlands, from linking to pictures of Britt Dekker, a TV personality, without their permission.
The ruling says that the website is on the wrong side of the copyright rules because the court is of the view that the links were posted with a profit motive, clearly knowing that the photos had been published online by Playboy without consent.
This essentially means that you can be now sued in Europe for placing simple hyperlinks in your blog or website. GeenStijl said in a statement:
“An eye on profit, that’s something dirty, according to the European clowns. The consequence is that from now on, you always run the risk of being sued, just for placing a hyperlink.”
This is a victory for publishers and copyright owners who are fighting that internet sites do not link or publish their content without permission. This might even have implications for Google when it provides links in its search results.
This means that those publishing content online and using hyperlinks will also now have to perform additional checks the content they are linking to has been published with the consent of the person or company in question. This makes reporting news items very difficult because many a time the news is based on leaked information.
The hyperlinks need to be understood as road signs and should be delinked from the copyright issues, keeping in line with the spirit of the internet.