Playboy can now reserve the right to prevent media outlets from providing links to its own images, a European Union court has ruled.
The case was brought to the courts after the Dutch blog GeenStikl were accused of breaching copyright laws for posting links to photos of TV personality Britt Dekker without prior permission of Sanoma Oyj, the owners of Playboy in the Netherlands.
The verdict was reached on the basis that the links were knowingly published for commercial purposes, when GeenStikl were fully aware that the original posting of the photos had been done illegally.
In response to the verdict, GeenStikl said: “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.”
However, the court contested that it “it is undisputed that GS Media provided the hyperlinks to the files containing the photos for profit and that Sanoma had not authorized the publication of those photos on the internet.”
The ruling could have huge consequences for media companies that regularly use hyperlinks as a means of sourcing their content. It will come as a boost, however, to copyright owners who claim the use of hyperlinks equates to a breach of their intellectual property.
Tom Collins, an intellectual property lawyer, said that “there will now be an expectation to carry out checks to ensure that the content has not been illegally published. This will inevitably raise some practical difficulties for some online businesses.”