June 27, 2012

Online publishing, problematic for “time and space”


Internet publishing is well established as a legal minefield, and now an advisor to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has further increased the confusion (or lessened it, depending on your opinion).

Advocate General Yves Bot of the ECJ has suggested that internet publishing takes place both where the information is served from and where it is read. Out-Law.com interprets Bot as saying,

“The internet was a complex communications network and that the High Court in the UK had been wrong to determine that organisations are responsible for ‘making available’ internet-hosted material in the country where its host server is based and not in the country where the material is read or used.”

Bot went on,

“Categories based on concepts, such as time and space, the meaning of which becomes highly ambiguous in the world of virtual reality, are rendered ineffective by the networked configuration of a global communication medium, the content of which is constantly being renewed and which even today remains highly resistant to the discipline of a legislative framework that can be effective and efficient only if it is set up with the support of the international community of States as a whole.”

In making this comment, Bot was reflecting on a UK High Court decision that based its findings on laws that divided broadcasts between where they are sent and where they are received. The question referred to the ECJ was, ”what the law means when a company uploads material which is protected by the Database Directive from country A and that information is seen in country B. It has asked it would any infringement exist in country A, country B, or in both countries.”

Bot’s comment, non-binding as it is, is worth taking note of—it might indicate the position Europe will take on copyright infringement in the future.


Ariel Bogle is a publicist at Melville House.