Tue, Apr. 12, 2011

Link in News Report Protected

CK -Washington.   Time and again, we note that some lower German courts fail to understand the internet while the Supreme Court for civil matters is quite adept at it. Recently, it cleared up a misconception that handicapped the German press, bloggers and internet users since early 2005. Lower courts had found an online report violative of copyright law because the report not only explained the business of, but linked to the website of a vendor whose software is deemed illegal.

Video marketing groups alleged that the report contributorily infringed on copyright because readers could easily acess the site and download software to undo copyright restrictions from DVDs.

The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appeals court and the court of first instance for failing to ignore the broad protection owed the press under the German constitution. The links support informational needs and back up the story. As such, the report enjoys in its entirety the broadest possible protection for press freedoms and freedom of speech, the court reasoned.

The lower courts had assumed that a more limited form of press freedom applied, one for services ancillary to reporting which in this case assured the reader access to the illegal software. The Supreme Court, Bundesgerichtshof, dismissed that proposition in its opinion in I ZR 191/08, Heise, on October 14, 2010, which it now published.

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