The latest ruling on hyper links and copyright confirms previous case law and adds a new rule of presumption, which may threaten the existence of some Internet media.

In case C-160/15, the European Court of Justice confirmed that if the person adding a hyper link was aware or ought to have been aware that the link referred to a work, which had been disclosed unlawfully on the Internet, this person would be violating the licensee's exclusive right.

This has now been supplemented by a rule of presumption applying especially to business operators. According to the ruling, it must be expected that every person linking for commercial purposes to a work will make the necessary control to ensure that the work has not been posted illegally on the linked website.

Stricter requirements for use of sources

In practice, this means that media using hyper links in articles must be able to rebut this presumption, which will, inevitably, make stricter requirements for the use and examination of sources and documentation. In the present case, it was taken into account, however, that the defendant was aware that the work had been posted illegally.

The ruling is presumably to be considered a considerable strengthening of the licensees' position on the Internet.