London, 5 June 2014 – In a landmark legal case, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) today ruled that Internet users have the right to browse online freely without the threat of copyright infringement. The ruling marks the culmination of five years of litigation between publisher copyright group, the NLA, and Meltwater, leading provider of online intelligence solutions delivering big data insights, backed by the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA). The NLA had claimed that “cached” copies automatically saved on a computer while browsing the web, and images appearing on a computer monitor contravened copyright law. However, the CJEU found the NLA’s claims to be covered by the temporary copy exception in EU law, confirming an earlier ruling from the UK Supreme Court.
The significance of this judgement is far-reaching. It ensures that people across Europe retain their Internet freedoms to view or browse online content, which in the case of the NLA newspaper publishers was made freely available by the rights holders, and that their rights are protected from overreaching copyright collectors. Without this decision, millions of average citizens would be infringing on the law every day with the simple act of using a search engine or browsing the Internet.
An adverse ruling in this case could have left the door open for publishers of potentially any form of content to claim copyright infringement whenever a link is viewed over the Internet. This would have threatened basic tenets of Internet freedom and could have had untold negative and unfair impact.
“We are pleased that the Court of Justice has stepped in to set an important precedent for Internet freedom across the European Union,” said Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater. “This ruling serves the interests of business, technology and millions of Internet users and ensures they are protected from being accused of copyright infringement. Meltwater is a strong believer in copyright and a strong supporter of a sustainable, independent press. However, we are pleased that the Court has interpreted the copyright law in a way that allows citizens to use the Internet without fear of unintentional infringement.”
“We are utterly delighted that the CJEU has accepted all of our arguments against the NLA, which represents eight national newspapers,” comments PRCA Director General Francis Ingham. “The Court of Justice, like the Supreme Court before them, understands that the NLA’s attempts to charge for sharing online content does not just affect the PR world, but the fundamental rights of all EU citizens to browse the Internet. This is a huge step in the right direction for the courts as they seek ways to deal with the thorny issues of Internet use and copyright law.”
Background to the Court of Justice of the European Union ruling:
- Dating back to 2009, Meltwater, backed by the PRCA, took the NLA to the Copyright Tribunal over its licensing scheme for online articles.
- As the litigation proceeded, one of the questions was whether temporary digital “cached” copies of online news content made when a user surfs the web, violate a copyright holders rights came into question.
- In April 2013, the UK Supreme Court ruled in favor of PRCA and Meltwater’s position, and referred the ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union as they believe it would have impact far wider than the UK.
Those wishing to find out more about the CJEU’s judgement can view the ruling on the Court of Justice of the European Union website. This CJEU ruling provides clarity on the legal status of temporary digital “cached” copies of online news content and will lead to on-going discussions between Meltwater and the NLA.
About The Meltwater Group
Meltwater helps businesses drive growth and build brands. Meltwater’s online intelligence platform analyzes billions of digital documents daily to extract precise, timely business insights that help more than 20,000 companies understand their markets, engage their customers, and master the new social business environment. With offices in 27 countries, Meltwater is dedicated to personal, global service built on local expertise. Meltwater also operates the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing future generations of entrepreneurs. Follow Meltwater on Twitter, Meltwater on Facebook, Meltwater on LinkedIn, Meltwater on YouTube or visit www.meltwater.com.
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