Shockblog GeenStijl was breaking copyright laws when it linked to an Australian website containing leaked photographs from a Playboy session featuring a Dutch television personality, the European Court of Justice said on Thursday.
The blog linked to the photographs of reality soap start Britt Dekker when they were leaked in 2011 and uploaded to the Australian site.
The EU court said that linking to internet pages which could break copyright rules can be sanctioned in some cases. However in this case, the blog aimed to make a profit from photographs which had not yet been officially published, the court said.
By linking to the photos, GeenStijl effectively republished the photographs and the hyperlinks therefore contravened copyright rules, the court said in its ruling.
The case is considered to be a landmark issue in copyright law and other, similar cases are pending across Europe.
The case was started by Playboy publisher Sanoma five years ago. Following the European court ruling, it will now go back to the Dutch Supreme Court which will give its verdict and decide what, if any, sanctions GeenStijl should face.
The website said in a reaction that the ruling, which went against the advice of the court’s advocate general, was a serious infringement of press freedom.
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