European Union Court of Justice Holds that Individuals Browsing Websites are not in Violation of Copyright Law
By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Yixuan Long
Case C‑360/13, Pub. Relations Consultants Ass’n v. Newspaper Licensing Agency Ltd. (E.C.R., June 5, 2014)
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) affirmed the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which had held that webpage browsers do not need license to view copyrighted materials online. The court concluded that the on-screen and cached copies meet the criteria for exemption from reproduction laws laid out in Articles 5(1) and 5(5) of the Directive 2001/29, art. 5, 2001 O.J. (L 167/10) 16, 17 (EC) (hereinafter “Directive”), finding both types to be: temporary, created in the context of the technological process of viewing webpages, contributing to the efficiency of browsing, and transient and/or incidental in nature. The court also concluded that these reproduction acts do not unreasonably prejudice the interests of rightholders and do not conflict with the normal exploitation of the reproduced works.
With this holding, the CJEU issued a crucial decision for European Union law, balancing the rights of copyright holders and the rights of individuals to browse authorized content without being liable for infringement.
The Guardian and PCWorld provide overviews of the case. Ars Technica offers a critical perspective on the decision, claiming that the real issue was much narrower than the CJEU portrayed with its decision. (more…)