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Linking to illegally copied works can itself be copyright infringement, rules Dutch court

Publishing links to copyright infringing material hosted elsewhere on the internet can itself be an act of copyright infringement, a court in the Netherlands has ruled.17 Sep 2012

The Court of Amsterdam said that GeenStijl.nl had breached the copyright of publisher Sanoma after posting links to naked images of Dutch celebrity Britt Dekker without the publisher's consent. Sanoma is the Dutch publisher of Playboy magazine. GeenStijl.nl had provided links to the copyrighted images within a report it had published about the leaked pictures of Dekker, according to media reports.

The Court said that GeenStijl.nl's linking to the pictures had constituted a publication of the material under Dutch copyright law, according to a report on the Future of Copyright website.

The Court reached its decision on the basis that GeenStijl.nl had intervened to enable its readers to view images they otherwise would not have been able to see, because it made those images available to a new audience, and because the website operators had provided the links in order to drive more traffic to the site with the intention of profiting from the extra visitors, according to the report.

Although the images had been removed from FileFactory.com following a removal request by Sanoma, GeenStijl.nl updated its story to contain links to other locations at which the images could be found, according to the Future of Copyright report. GeenStijl.nl did not remove the links to the material when Sanoma asked it to.

GeenStijl.nl has been ordered to pay Sanoma approximately €28,400 to cover the publisher's legal costs, whilst the Dutch website could be fined €50,000 if it does not comply with the Court's order to remove the links to the copyrighted photographs, according to a report by Associated Press.