In February, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered judgement on the legality of hyperlinking in Svensson et v Retriever Sverige AB (C-466/12). The CJEU assessed whether by hyperlinking to third party content (news content) made available on the Goteborgs-Posten website, Sverige was infringing the exclusive copyright of Gotenborgs-Posten and its authors (the journalists) to make that content available to the public. The CJEU provided that the owner of a website may, without the authorisation of the copyright holders, redirect internet users, via hyperlinks, to works protected by copyright which are freely available and accessible on another site. As a result, in such circumstances, copyright holders would not be able to claim their right to restrict communication to the public.
It is unfortunate that the CJEU has not clarified what content is considered “freely accessible”. Therefore one would question whether mere registration to access a site, or limitations placed in a website's terms and conditions will be sufficient for a copyright owner to protect its right over the content.