Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Viewing a web page is not breach of copyright

Finally, some sense...

"...it has never been an infringement, in either English or EU law, for a person merely to view or read an infringing article in physical form."

Basically, that "viewing" something is not a breach of copyright - you can read a book without being in breach of copyright.

It was considered that "browsing a web page" made temporary copies that were considered a breach for various reasons. There are clauses in the legislation to allow these transient copies (on screen, cache in memory and disk, etc) but only for lawful use, and the argument was that reading the web page could be unlawful if not licensed. But the judgement here says that "reading" the information in a web page does not need a licence, and so is lawful and therefore so are the transient copies made as part of that process.

Choosing to download or print a web page is not the same, that is protected, but simply viewing a web page is not a breach of copyright.

Yay!

http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2011_0202_Judgment.pdf

Also http://www.out-law.com/en/articles/2013/april/unauthorised-browsing-of-copyrighted-material-online-is-legitimate-says-uk-supreme-court/

9 comments:

  1. Hurrah for common sense.

    Now try to explain the difference between a web hosting company (or social network) requesting rights to transmit your content, in full or in part, to person or persons unknown at any time of the day without your explicit permission, and the same web hosting company asserting copyright over your content. It's amazing how many people get this simple distinction wrong.

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  2. Does that explain the absense of the OTELO, DHL, ETC line in the top banner?

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    1. Yep, until this judgement the case law was that a copyright holder can restrict viewing of a web site. Now I can't I have removed that comment.

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    2. Can you not do something similar to the car park "contracts" and have a banner that imposes conditions on the viewer and fees?

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    3. That only works if you have some leverage. The copyright act makes some things illegal without agreement of the copyright holder, so you can offer agreement in return for money. But if what I am doing is not illegal then why would I take your offer of a contact. If a book has printed in it on one of the pages "You can read this page if you pay the author £1", what does that mean? Nothing! It is a contractual offer. I don't have to take that offer. I can still read the page though even without agreement of the author to do so.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. invoke the Computer Misuse Act on them then, prohibiting them (the "unwashed") accessing it? :)

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  5. What about altering web pages? I can see that ad-blockers could potentially make you responsible for breach of copyright as they undoubtedly produce an altered version of the web page, and presumably the implied permission only extends as far as looking at the page, not to producing altered copies. But then again it's not very different from covering up the advertisements on your screen with a piece of paper so you don't see them and nobody would claim that is a crime. ( I hope).

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