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EU court adviser says linking to pirated content is not illegal

Over the years, plenty of sites that simply link to pirated content have been slammed with legal action despite not actively hosting. However, that could change over here in the EU as a court adviser has spoken out to say that simply linking to copyright infringing content publicly available on another site should not be considered illegal.

Back in 2014, the EU Court of Justice announced that it does not see linking to publicly available content as a form of copyright infringement, which has now been backed up thanks to Advocate General, Melchior Wathelet, who is advising a Dutch court in a case involving a blog site that linked to a set of leaked Playboy photos.

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Explaining his stance, Melchior (via TorrentFreak) said: “Hyperlinks which lead, even directly, to protected works are not ‘making them available’ to the public when they are already freely accessible on another website, and only serve to facilitate their discovery.”

This would essentially mean that sites like TV Links or Primewire, which are blocked by ISPs in the UK on copyright grounds, would not actually be breaking any laws as they don’t actively host content. This take on the matter isn’t legally binding and the eventual verdict of this specific case has yet to be announced but the court will likely take this opinion quite seriously.

KitGuru Says: There has been a lot of debate surrounding the legality of linking to a site hosting copyright infringing content. I tend to hold the opinion that linking to something available elsewhere shouldn’t be breaking any rules but obviously copyright holders are going to try to stomp on anyone it deems to be aiding piracy, whether they should or not. 

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