Court gives GeenStijl wrong in lawsuit over hyperlink to Playboy-photos

Court gives GeenStijl wrong in lawsuit over hyperlink to Playboy-photos

Photo: 123RF

The European Court of Justice has Stated wrong in a lawsuit that revolved around the link to the Playboy pictures of Britt Dekker nude.

According to the Court, it is linking to copyrighted material illegally is published online is not permitted, provided this is done with a non-profit, and the one that the link puts know that the material illegally online.

GeenStijl must know that the photos of Britt Dekker without the consent of Sanoma, the former publisher of Playboy, were posted by an Australian site, as judge of the highest court of Europe (pdf). Because GeenStijl with a non-profit act had the site this also need to verify it for publication.

Sanoma, the publisher of, among others started with the lawsuit five years ago. After the judgment of the European Court remanded the case to the High Council, that a final decision and any penalty it may impose.


With the judgment of the Court against the advice of his attorney-general, who was of the opinion that the link is not “communication to the public”, because it linked the work already online. Therefore, it could posting a link so no copyright infringement mean, he wrote in april.

Rather, the Court found that linking to a news article not a copyright infringement. This was, however, to articles that legal online were placed, while that in the photos was not the case.

In an article on GeenStijl writes editor Bart Nijman, that the Court “a minefield on the free internet laid”. According to the site, which is the judgment of the Court is bad for the freedom of the press.


The new ruling creates an important precedent for other cases, to rotate the linking to copyrighted material. Will judges in the future should consider whether there is a non-profit, and or clearly should have known that was linked to illegal material.

The Court stressed that for individuals it is difficult to verify this. The ruling will therefore presumably primarily have implications for commercial operators of websites.


According to intenetjurist Micah Mold of SOLV calls the judgment to new questions. “How do you decide well that there is a non-profit exists?”, he asks. For example, it is unclear whether or not there there would be if an individual employee of a company somewhere to link.

Also, according to Mold striking that the Court, the easier it appropriate for companies to verify something with permission posted. That is, according to him, is not always the case.

“If you take this ruling to the letter follows, is that all large problems in the future,” he says. New case law in future cases will, according to him, more clarity to create.

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