EU Court Of Justice: Just Viewing Stuff Online Isn't Infringing On Copyright

from the about-time dept

It's kind of ridiculous that it's taken this long, but the EU Court of Justice has now made it clear that viewing stuff that is legally on the internet is not copyright infringement. We had written about this case a few months back, as an offshoot of the various cases against clipping service/aggregator Meltwater. This specific dispute involves the Newspaper Licensing Agency's (NLA) continuing argument with the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA), and NLA's absolutely insane assertion that on-screen and cached copies of articles online was copyright infringement unless there was a license. As we noted last year, the UK Supreme Court agreed that this was nutty, but asked the EU Court of Justice to weigh in to be sure.

And, thankfully, on this one the EUCJ got it right, saying that on-screen and cached copies don't require a special license:
Article 5 of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that the copies on the user’s computer screen and the copies in the internet ‘cache’ of that computer’s hard disk, made by an end-user in the course of viewing a website, satisfy the conditions that those copies must be temporary, that they must be transient or incidental in nature and that they must constitute an integral and essential part of a technological process, as well as the conditions laid down in Article 5(5) of that directive, and that they may therefore be made without the authorisation of the copyright holders.
This is kind of important, because if the ruling had gone the other way, basically all of the internet would be infringing, and any time people loaded up anything in their web browsers, they'd likely be infringing. Kudos to the EUCJ for getting it right, but it's kind of crazy that we had to wait until now to make that clear...

Filed Under: cache, clipping, copyright, eu court of justice, eucj, europe, incidental copies, the web, transient copies, viewing
Companies: meltwater, nla, prca

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  1. identicon
    A. Lauridsen, 6 Jun 2014 @ 5:16am

    Re: The Trouble With This Decision Is...

    The ruling is based on Directive 2001/29/EC 'on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society'

    The directive has certain exceptions for when copyright not. Specifically Article 5.1, permits temporary reproduction. The ruling states: Google translation:

    According to Article 5. 1 of Directive 2001/29 is an act of reproduction exempted from the reproduction right provided for in its Article 2 that:

    - That it is temporary,

    - It is transient or incidental,

    - That it is an integral and essential part of a technological process

    - That its sole purpose is to enable an intermediary transmission in a network between third men or a lawful use of a work or other subject matter, and

    - It has no independent economic significance.

    It then goes on to explain that web-browser caches are a requirement for the browser implementation. And consequently storing copyrighted material in a temporary cache manged by the browser is in accordance with article 5.1

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