On 22 January 2015, the European Court of Justice ruled in the case Pez Hejduk vs. EnergieAgentur, NRW GmbH (case C-441/13). The Court definitively established that in cases concerning copyright infringements on the Internet, you may bring legal action in all EU countries where the material is accessible. The Court thereby confirmed its ruling from October 2013 in the Pinckney case (case C-170/12).

The Court's ruling in the Pinckney case stated that legal action may be commenced concerning copyright infringements on the Internet under article 5, no. 3 of the Brussels I Regulation (regulation no. 44/2001).

With the recent ruling, the Court has established that you may bring legal action in all EU countries where there is 1) protection of copyright and 2) a risk of damage. 

The ruling also throws more light on the legal position.


The case concerned the architectural photographer Pez Hejduk bringing legal action in Austria against a German company arranging conferences.

Pez Hejduk claimed that her copyright had been infringed as the German company had made some of her photos available on its website without her permission or a copyright statement. 

The German company claimed dismissal stating that the Austrian court was not the proper forum to hear the question as the company's website was not aimed at the Austrian market. The website did not market itself against the Austrian market, and the domain name ended on ".de". 


The Court ruled based on section 5, no. 3 of the Brussels I Regulation establishing that, according to case law, it was not important that the website was not aimed at the member state where the action was brought. 

On the contrary, it was relevant that the photos were protected by Austrian copyright law, and that they were made available in Austria through the German website. The alleged damage - or the risk of damage - was therefore considered to have occurred in Austria, which was decisive for the Austrian court having authority to hear the case even though the opponent was a German company.

As in the Pinckney case, the Court also found that the Austrian court could only decide on the infringements committed in Austria. 

You may therefore conclude that there are good possibilities within the EU of bringing legal action concerning a copyright infringement on the Internet.