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Linking to Other Sites Might Become Illegal in EU: How the New Law Threatens Online Innovation

September 2016 by NordVPN

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that the act of linking to copyrighted content can be a breach of copyright in all 28 EU nations. This is unfortunate contrast to what CJEU’s Advocate General stated earlier this year that the act of linking should not be illegal.

Links are a part of communication and freedom in the new digital world that we live in. The new ruling takes away the right to share information without restrictions. Small businesses and bloggers will especially feel the heavy burden of the new law, as they will be forced to check the copyright status of each link they are using, despite the promise that some publishers might benefit from the law. According to CJEU, “when hyperlinks are posted for profit, it may be expected that the person who posted such a link should carry out the checks necessary to ensure that the work concerned is not illegally published.”

Even businesses that use social media for promotion will have to check the links of everything they share.

In addition, the costs of implementing such regulations are very high, and it’s basically impossible to track each small blogger and business. “The Internet was born with the idea to connect people and to freely share information. The new law threatens to stall the growth of innovation and to harm online businesses, which are the driving force of our modern digital economy,” says Marty P. Kamden, CMO of NordVPN.

NordVPN, which provides Virtual Private Network services, supports protecting Internet users’ rights against court rulings that might negatively impact online innovation by favouring corporate giants at the cost of small businesses, unfair content restrictions, and authoritarian governments that block websites, social media and people’s access to free speech.

NordVPN is partnering up with, an organization that fights to keep the Internet open, affordable and surveillance-free. In this partnership, NordVPN will support initiatives of to hear the public opinion and to fight for reversal of various unfair laws, in this case for the right to link.

After the EU’s top court ruled that websites were liable for linking to copyrighted content, the European Parliament will now consider the EU Commission’s Link Tax proposal, which would make it a law to charge fees when snippets of text are used in hyperlinks.

How can you help? Over 118,000 people have already signed the petition. “The Web without links is like a world without roads,” says a statement on Save the Link page. “Links are what empower us to access the greatest collection of human knowledge and experiences the world has ever seen with the click of a button.”

NordVPN and invite you to sign the petition and to express your stance on the freedom of linking.

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