EU – No copyright infringement when using embedding or hyperlinking for freely available works

The CJEU rendered two important decisions regarding the embedded linking of copyright protected work and on the scope of legitimate hyperlinking.

On 13 February 2014, in Svensson and Others v Retriever Sverige AB (C466/12), the CJEU decided that a website which redirects Internet users through hyperlinks to protected work which is already freely available online does not infringe copyright in this work.

On 21 October 2014, in the BestWater International case (C-348/13) the CJEU confirmed its approach by establishing that embedding or framing copyrighted content which is already freely available for anyone to access on the Internet also does not constitute in itself copyright infringement.

As a reminder, embedding requires merely the addition of a small (HTML) code linking to the video, enabling the end-user's web browser to display the website and the video as an integrated whole.

In its ruling, the CJEU argued that embedding a file or video is not a copyright infringement, as long as the message is not altered or communicated to a new public.

This decision does not change the copyright breaching status of the original upload, but ensures that an Internet user is not liable for embedding or framing a video or an image from another website, if the latter is accessible by the general public.