|The IPKat and some of his friends from Wales|
The Supreme Court has referred questions ... concerning whether end users, who view web-pages on their computers without downloading or printing them, are committing infringements of copyright.This case and the questions referred to the court can be viewed on our website at:
This appeal raises an important question about the application of copyright law to the technical processes involved in viewing copyright material on the internet.
Where a web-page is viewed by an end-user on his computer, without being downloaded, the technical processes involved will require temporary copies to be made on screen and in the internet "cache" on the hard disk of the computer. The end-user's object is to view the material. He does not make a copy unless he downloads or prints the image. The copies temporarily retained on the screen or in the cache are merely an incidental consequence of using a computer to view the material.
The referred question as in circumstances where:
(i) an end-user views a web - page without downloading, printing or otherwise setting out to make a copy of it;Are such copies (i) temporary, (ii) transient or incidental and (iii) an integral and essential part of the technological process within the meaning of Article 5(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC [the InfoSoc Directive]?
(ii) copies of that web - page are automatically made on screen and in the internet "cache" on the end-user's hard disk;
(iii) the creation of those copies is indispensable to the technical processes involved in correct and efficient internet browsing;
(iv) the screen copy remains on screen until the end - user moves away from the relevant web - page, when it is automatically deleted by the normal operation of the computer;
(v) the cached copy remains in the cache until it is overwritten by other material as the end - user views further web - pages, when it is automatically deleted by the normal operation of the computer; and
(vi) the copies are retained for no longer than the ordinary processes associated with internet use referred to at (iv) and (v) above continue;
If you would like to comment on this case please email firstname.lastname@example.org. At this point there is no deadline for comments since the IPO has not received official notification of this case from the Court of Justice.
Says the IPKat, since there's no immediate deadline for the submission of opinions (which won't of course influence the CJEU but might colour the UK government's decision to make representations to that court), it would be good if interested readers focused on the legal issues rather than just making sweeping and rhetorical assertions. Once the CJEU rules, we can then go back to the drawing board and see whether the law we actually have is in fact the law we want. Merpel disagrees: it's not possible to separate law from policy on a matter as sensitive as this, she mewses.
Some further reading
- Eleonora's katpost of 17 April on the Supreme Court's decision to refer questions to the CJEU here
- Katpost reporting on the Baker & McKenziie debate on whether this case represents the end of browsing as we know it here
- Lionel Bently's assault on the Court of Appeal decision in this case, hosted on this weblog here
- Simon Clark's explanation of why the Court of Appeal decision won't break the internet, hosted on the 1709 Blog here -- and the response of James McKenzie (Cutbot) on the same blog here