A Unanimous Judgment on Hyperlinking and Defamation from the European Court of Human Rights

This is an important judgment because it correctly recognizes hyperlinking as a technique of reporting that is essentially different from traditional acts of publication in that it simply directs users to content available elsewhere on the internet.

Extract of an article from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR)

In a unanimous judgment today in the case of Magyar Jeti ZRT v Hungary, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found a violation of the applicant’s right to freedom of expression.

The central issue in this case was whether applying an objective liability standard for posting hyperlinks on the internet is compatible with the rights to freedom of expression and press freedom. The ECtHR’s judgment is an important clarification of the circumstances in which liability might exist for using hyperlinks, given the importance of hyperlinks in the everyday functioning of the internet.

This is an important judgment because it correctly recognizes hyperlinking as a technique of reporting that is essentially different from traditional acts of publication in that it simply directs users to content available elsewhere on the internet. The linked content is not communicated to an audience, but rather attention is called to its existence on another website. The ECtHR’s decision also notes that a person referring to information through a hyperlink does not exercise control over the content of the website to which a hyperlink enables access.

Additional Reading

Press Release on ECtHR Judgment (Magyar Jeti ZRT v Hungary)

Judgment Magyar Jeti Zrt v_ Hungary – use of hyperlinks in online articles

Source: ComplexDiscovery

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