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HomeOpinionEU to Ban Linking to Other Sites Citing Copyright Protection

EU to Ban Linking to Other Sites Citing Copyright Protection

STRASBOURG - European Union - The EU is preparing a formal taxation of the hyperlink, the basic building block of the Internet as we know it. All news aggregrators, search engines and news portals will have to pay media companies for promoting their freely accessible articles.

Non-creative sites like Drudgereport and Infowars, who simply link to other news sources to garner huge amounts of revenue for themselves (aggregrators), may be punished with vast fines in the future when the EU goes ahead with its new law.

“A precondition for a well-functioning market place for copyright is the possibility for right

holders to license and be paid for the use of their content, including content distributed online.

The production of rich and diverse creative content and innovative online services are part of

the same equation. Both — creative content and online services — are important for growth

and jobs and the success of the internet economy.

There is, however, growing concern about whether the current EU copyright rules make sure

that the value generated by some of the new forms of online content distribution is fairly

shared, especially where right holders cannot set licensing terms and negotiate on a fair basis

with potential users. This state of affairs is not compatible with the digital single market’s

ambition to deliver opportunities for all and to recognise the value of content and of the

investment that goes into it. It also means the playing field is not level for different market

players engaging in equivalent forms of distribution.

Currently, these discussions centre on certain online platforms and aggregation services. They

are, however, likely to continue to arise for all online activities involving the commercial

reuse or retransmission of copyright-protected content.”

How the new law will affect social news sharing sites like Twitter, Facebook and Reddit is still under question, however the linking tax would adversely change the way they are allowed to operate.

Search engine news has already been affected as Google News pulled its service from Spain due to the incompatible laws and taxation.


Respect for copyright, as for any other intellectual property right, is essential to promote

creativity and innovation and create trust in the market place. Rights that cannot be effectively

enforced have little economic value, particularly when infringements occur on a commercial

scale that free-rides on the work and investment of creators, the creative industries and legal

distribution services. This is currently very frequent and harmful to the EU economy as a

whole. An effective and balanced civil enforcement28 system is required to reduce the costs of

fighting infringements, particularly for small businesses, and keep up with their increasing

cross-border nature.

An effective response to these challenges calls for a renewed effort and for a possible review

of certain aspects of the existing legal framework. A ‘follow-the-money’ approach, which

sees the involvement of different types of intermediary service providers, seems to be a

particularly promising method that the Commission29 and Member States have started to apply

in certain areas. It can deprive those engaging in commercial infringements of the revenue streams (for

example from consumer payments and advertising) emanating from their illegal activities, and therefore act as a deterrent.”

Legal link

European Commission new Internet laws to be announced 9 December 2015


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