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Browsing the Web Is Not a Crime

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June 08, 2014, 06:22:16 PM
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The European Court of Justice has handed down the ruling saying that users who just visit a website can’t be sued for copyright violation. A landmark ruling says that browsing and viewing articles in the web is legitimate and does not require permission from the copyright owners.


The European Court of Justice ruled that the on-screen copies and the cached copies made by Internet users when viewing a website are legitimate and may therefore be made without the authorization of the copyright holders.

When you browse the web, your computer makes a copy of the webpage you are visiting in order to display it on your screen. Experts in copyright law argue that the EU law known as “the temporary copying exception” is specifically intended to avoid people having to worry about this fact from a copyright perspective. They believe that the court ruling is a good thing, as it clarified that browsing legitimate content online doesn’t constitute a potential infringement and gives many users a peace of mind.

The body engaged in licensing companies to distribute reproductions of newspaper content argued that the fees PR companies pay for such reproductions should consider the copies made on the reader’s machines, and ultimately won on that point in the British high court.

Others believe that the temporary copying exception is intended to protect Internet service providers and telecoms companies when transmitting information from within networks. The PR spin put on the recent case was that if the ruling on question was allowed to stand, then Internet users would be criminalized for using a browser. They point out that the real question is should the worldwide web be one where browsing is permitted or where it's permissible.

One of the copyright attorneys argued that 2013's supreme court case, which the European Court of Justice concurred with, misapplied the temporary copying exemption. He believes that the exemption in question was designed to avoid a situation where the copies made, for instance, in a router when it passed information from one computer to another, appeared infringing. But now the Supreme Court’s judgment broadens those circumstances.

Although the first ruling saying that Internet users can’t make temporary copies of webpages was overturned, another one still stands – the one saying that headlines can be covered by copyright, even if they are just a link back to the original article.

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June 08, 2014, 07:33:06 PM
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June 08, 2014, 08:31:09 PM
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