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. icon
    ethorad (profile), 6 Jun 2014 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re: Blizzard take note

    This article says that transient copies of web pages made by a computer may be made without the express authorisation of the copyright holder.

    Blizzard is currently suing some StarCraft cheat writers (and historically sued some World of WarCraft cheat writers) by claiming copyright infringement. Essentially in order to run the game (or any program), the computer makes a copy of the program in memory. Blizzard argues that the permission to make that copy goes along with your adherence to the Terms of Service. The moment that you breach the ToS (by, for example, installing a cheat program), you no longer have their permission to create a temporary copy of their product in the computer's memory. So the moment that you run the game with the cheat live, you are making an infringing copy and thus guilty of copyright infringement. (See the links in my post above for the Techdirt stories about this).

    Essentially the EU is now ruling that transient copies of web pages can't be found to be infringing copyright. The extension would be that transient copies of anything, which are an integral part of the technological process, aren't copyright infringement.

    Therefore, Blizzard would lose the ability to use their currently preferred line of attack in Europe.

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