"The Court concludes from this that the owner of a website, such as that of Retriever Sverige, may, without the authorisation of the copyright holders, redirect internet users, via hyperlinks, to protected works available on a freely accessible basis on another site," it said.
The position would be different though in a situation where the hyperlink permits users of the site on which that link appears to circumvent restrictions put in place by the site on which the protected work appears, the court added. In that situation the users would not have been taken into account as potential public by the copyright holders when they authorized the initial communication, it said.
Member states do not have the right to give wider protection to copyright holders by broadening the concept of communication to the public, the court said. This would have the effect of creating legislative differences and, accordingly, legal uncertainty, when the directive at issue is specifically intended to remedy those problems, it said.
It is now up to the Svea Court of Appeal to dispose of the case in accordance with CJEU's decision. The decision is similarly binding on other national courts or tribunals before which a similar issue is raised.
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