(CN) – In what may prove a landmark decision for European copyright law, the Barcelona Court of Appeals ruled that websites that simply provide links to copyright-infringing content are not liable for illegal downloads.
The Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, a group dedicated to protecting intellectual property rights of artists and writers, sued the CEO of Indice-web, a website which provides links to copyrighted music, movies, software, and games that can be downloaded via third-party servers.
Indice-web does not host any illegal content. The site merely acts as an index of downloadable content, which visitors use to access peer-to-peer file sharing sites.
That distinction shields Indice-web from liability, the Spanish court found.
“The linking system does not constitute distribution, nor reproduction nor public communication” (translation) under Spanish law, wrote Judge Marta Rallo Ayezcuren.
The court rejected SGAE’s argument that providing assistance for direct downloads and authorized streaming qualified as copyright infringement. Spanish law does not prohibit such guidance, Ayezcuren explained.
Though the ruling is only binding in Spain, the prestige of the Barcelona Court of Appeal will likely influence other European courts.