Italian Courts Order Yahoo! Italia To Keep the Links Missing

I picked up an interesting article published today in the International Law Office, and since the article is listed in the category of Information Technology, I thought some Legal Bytes readers with international interests and activities that are "content," "search" or "link" related might not see it.

The article summarizes a case in which Yahoo! Italia was held responsible for failing to remove links to infringing versions of a motion picture – thus, in the court’s view, resulting in contributory liability. What is also of interest is that the Italian court ordered Yahoo! in Italy to not only remove links to websites that "served" the allegedly infringing content, but also to remove any other websites that contained links to the websites serving that content – even if those websites had other links or provided other legitimate content, features and functions. Such a decision could have far-ranging implications since it goes to the heart of the ripple effect that linking has on legitimate content-sharing. It also raises the chilling specter of restricting access to otherwise legitimate, non-infringing content, features and functions based on a finding that there is a link to infringing material.

While one can make the case that such strong enforcement helps deter and ultimately prevent infringement, the breadth of the decision and the fact that a rights-holder can simply send a notice without requiring formal "proof" of infringement, means every link to every website that connects to an offending website could potentially be forced to de-link, and arguably bears some liability for contributory infringement. Think of the connections on social media, embedded players and links on the web – Wow!

If you want to read the entire article, you can access it right here Yahoo! Italia liable for searchable content. And as always, if you need advice from a U.S. lawyer who has done work with Italian companies and legal colleagues in Italy, call me, Joseph I. ("Joe") Rosenbaum, or any of the Rimon attorneys with whom you regularly work.