IP case law Court of Justice

Article 3 - Right of communication to the public

1. Member States shall provide authors with the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit any communication to the public of their works, by wire or wireless means, including the making available to the public of their works in such a way that members of the public may access them from a place and at a time individually chosen by them.

2. Member States shall provide for the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit the making available to the public, by wire or wireless means, in such a way that members of the public may access them from a place and at a time individually chosen by them:
(a) for performers, of fixations of their performances;
(b) for phonogram producers, of their phonograms;
(c) for the producers of the first fixations of films, of the original and copies of their films;
(d) for broadcasting organisations, of fixations of their broadcasts, whether these broadcasts are transmitted by wire or over the air, including by cable or satellite.

3. The rights referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall not be exhausted by any act of communication to the public or making available to the public as set out in this Article.

3 pending referrals

Referral C-753/18 (Stim and SAMI, 30 Nov 2018)


Referral C-484/18 (Spedidam, 20 Jul 2018)


Referral C-476/17 (Pelham and Others, 4 Aug 2017)


23 preliminary rulings

Judgment of 7 Aug 2018, C-161/17 (Renckhoff)

The concept of ‘communication to the public’, within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, must be interpreted as meaning that it covers the posting on one website of a photograph previously posted, without any restriction preventing it from being downloaded and with the consent of the copyright holder, on another website.

Judgment of 29 Nov 2017, C-265/16 (VCAST)

Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, in particular Article 5(2)(b) thereof, must be interpreted as precluding national legislation which permits a commercial undertaking to provide private individuals with a cloud service for the remote recording of private copies of works protected by copyright, by means of a computer system, by actively involving itself in the recording, without the rightholder’s consent.

Judgment of 14 Jun 2017, C-610/15 (Stichting Brein)

The concept of ‘communication to the public’, within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, must be interpreted as covering, in circumstances such as those at issue in the main proceedings, the making available and management, on the internet, of a sharing platform which, by means of indexation of metadata relating to protected works and the provision of a search engine, allows users of that platform to locate those works and to share them in the context of a peer-to-peer network.

Judgment of 26 Apr 2017, C-527/15 (Stichting Brein)

1. The concept of ‘communication to the public’, within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, must be interpreted as covering the sale of a multimedia player, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, on which there are pre-installed add-ons, available on the internet, containing hyperlinks to websites — that are freely accessible to the public — on which copyright-protected works have been made available to the public without the consent of the right holders.

2. Article 5(1) and (5) of Directive 2001/29 must be interpreted as meaning that acts of temporary reproduction, on a multimedia player, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, of a copyright-protected work obtained by streaming from a website belonging to a third party offering that work without the consent of the copyright holder does not satisfy the conditions set out in those provisions.

Judgment of 16 Mar 2017, C-138/16 (AKM)

Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society and Article 11bis of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, in the version resulting from the Paris Act of 24 July 1971, as amended on 28 September 1979, must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which provides that the simultaneous, full and unaltered transmission of programmes broadcast by the national broadcasting corporation, by means of cables on national territory, is not subject, under the exclusive right of communication to the public, to the requirement that authorisation be obtained from the author, provided that it is merely a technical means of communication and was taken into account by the author of the work when the latter authorised the original communication, this being a matter for the national court to ascertain.

Article 5 of Directive 2001/29, in particular paragraph 3(o) thereof, must be interpreted as precluding national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which provides that a broadcast made by means of a communal antenna installation, when the number of subscribers connected to the antenna is no more than 500, is not subject, under the exclusive right of communication to the public, to the requirement that authorisation be obtained from the author, and as meaning that that legislation must, therefore, be applied consistently with Article 3(1) of that directive, this being a matter for the national court to ascertain.

Judgment of 1 Mar 2017, C-275/15 (ITV Broadcasting)

Article 9 of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, and specifically the concept of ‘access to cable of broadcasting services’, must be interpreted as not covering, and not permitting, national legislation which provides that copyright is not infringed in the case of the immediate retransmission by cable, including, where relevant, via the internet, in the area of initial broadcast, of works broadcast on television channels subject to public service obligations.

Judgment of 16 Nov 2016, C-301/15 (Soulier and Doke)

Article 2(a) and Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as precluding national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, that gives an approved collecting society the right to authorise the reproduction and communication to the public in digital form of ‘out-of-print’ books, namely, books published in France before 1 January 2001 which are no longer commercially distributed by a publisher and are not currently published in print or in digital form, while allowing the authors of those books, or their successors in title, to oppose or put an end to that practice, on the conditions that that legislation lays down.

Judgment of 8 Sep 2016, C-160/15 (GS Media)

Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that, in order to establish whether the fact of posting, on a website, hyperlinks to protected works, which are freely available on another website without the consent of the copyright holder, constitutes a ‘communication to the public’ within the meaning of that provision, it is to be determined whether those links are provided without the pursuit of financial gain by a person who did not know or could not reasonably have known the illegal nature of the publication of those works on that other website or whether, on the contrary, those links are provided for such a purpose, a situation in which that knowledge must be presumed.

Judgment of 31 May 2016, C-117/15 (Reha Training)

In a case such as that in the main proceedings, in which it is alleged that the broadcast of television programmes by means of television sets that the operator of a rehabilitation centre has installed in its premises affects the copyright and related rights of a large number of interested parties, in particular, composers, songwriters and music publishers, but also performers, phonogram producers and authors of literary works and their publishers, it must be determined whether such a situation constitutes a ‘communication to the public’, within the meaning of both Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society and Article 8(2) of Directive 2006/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property and in accordance with the same interpretive criteria. Furthermore, those two provisions must be interpreted as meaning that such a broadcast constitutes an act of ‘communication to the public’.

Judgment of 19 Nov 2015, C-325/14 (SBS Belgium)

Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, must be interpreted as meaning that a broadcasting organisation does not carry out an act of communication to the public, within the meaning of that provision, when it transmits its programme-carrying signals exclusively to signal distributors without those signals being accessible to the public during, and as a result of that transmission, those distributors then sending those signals to their respective subscribers so that they may watch those programmes, unless the intervention of the distributors in question is just a technical means, which it is for the national court to ascertain.

Order of 14 Jul 2015, C-151/15 (Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores)

The concept of ‘communication to the public’ within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that it covers the transmission, by operators of a café-restaurant, of musico-literary works broadcast by a radio broadcasting station, by means of a radio apparatus connected to loudspeakers and/or amplifiers, to the customers present in that establishment.

Judgment of 26 Mar 2015, C-279/13 (C More)

Article 3(2) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation extending the exclusive right of the broadcasting organisations referred to in Article 3(2)(d) as regards acts of communication to the public which broadcasts of sporting fixtures made live on internet, such as those at issue in the main proceedings, may constitute, provided that such an extension does not undermine the protection of copyright.

Order of 21 Oct 2014, C-348/13 (BestWater International)

The mere fact that a protected work, freely available on an internet site, is inserted into another internet site by means of a link using the ‘framing’ technique, such as that used in the case in the main proceedings, cannot classified as ‘communication to the public’ within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society since the work at issue is not transmitted to a new public or communicated a specific technical method different from that of the original communication.

Judgment of 27 Feb 2014, C-351/12 (OSA)

Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as precluding national legislation which excludes the right of authors to authorise or prohibit the communication of their works, by a spa establishment which is a business, through the intentional distribution of a signal by means of television or radio sets in the bedrooms of the establishment’s patients. Article 5(2)(e), (3)(b) and (5) of that directive is not such as to affect that interpretation.

Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29 must be interpreted as meaning that it cannot be relied on by a copyright collecting society in a dispute between individuals for the purpose of setting aside national legislation contrary to that provision. However, the national court hearing such a case is required to interpret that legislation, so far as possible, in the light of the wording and purpose of the directive in order to achieve an outcome consistent with the objective pursued by the directive.

Judgment of 13 Feb 2014, C-466/12 (Svensson)

1. Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, must be interpreted as meaning that the provision on a website of clickable links to works freely available on another website does not constitute an ‘act of communication to the public’, as referred to in that provision.
2. Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29 must be interpreted as precluding a Member State from giving wider protection to copyright holders by laying down that the concept of communication to the public includes a wider range of activities than those referred to in that provision.

Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29 must be interpreted as precluding a Member State from giving wider protection to copyright holders by laying down that the concept of communication to the public includes a wider range of activities than those referred to in that provision.

Judgment of 7 Mar 2013, C-607/11 (ITV Broadcasting)

The concept of ‘communication to the public’, within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, must be interpreted as meaning that it covers a retransmission of the works included in a terrestrial television broadcast – where the retransmission is made by an organisation other than the original broadcaster, – by means of an internet stream made available to the subscribers of that other organisation who may receive that retransmission by logging on to its server, – even though those subscribers are within the area of reception of that terrestrial television broadcast and may lawfully receive the broadcast on a television receiver.

The answer to Question 1 is not influenced by the fact that a retransmission, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, is funded by advertising and is therefore of a profit-making nature.

The answer to Question 1 is not influenced by the fact that a retransmission, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, is made by an organisation which is acting in direct competition with the original broadcaster.

Judgment of 15 Mar 2012, C-135/10 (SCF)

The provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, which constitutes Annex 1C to the Agreement establishing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) signed at Marrrakesh on 15 April 1994 and approved by Council Decision 94/800/EC of 22 December 1994 concerning the conclusion on behalf of the European Community, as regards matters within its competence, of the agreements reached in the Uruguay Round multilateral negotiations (1986-1994) and of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty of 20 December 1996 are applicable in the legal order of the European Union. As the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations, adopted at Rome on 26 October 1961, does not form part of the legal order of the European Union it is not applicable there; however, it has indirect effects within the European Union. Individuals may not rely directly either on that convention or on the agreement or the treaty mentioned above. The concept of ‘communication to the public’ which appears in Council Directive 92/100/EEC of 19 November 1992 on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property and Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted in the light of the equivalent concepts contained in the convention, the agreement and the treaty mentioned above and in such a way that it is compatible with those agreements, taking account of the context in which those concepts are found and the purpose of the relevant provisions of the agreements as regards intellectual property.

The concept of ‘communication to the public’ for the purposes of Article 8(2) of Directive 92/100 must be interpreted as meaning that it does not cover the broadcasting, free of charge, of phonograms within private dental practices engaged in professional economic activity, such as the one at issue in the main proceedings, for the benefit of patients of those practices and enjoyed by them without any active choice on their part. Therefore such an act of transmission does not entitle the phonogram producers to the payment of remuneration.

Judgment of 9 Feb 2012, C-277/10 (Luksan)

Articles 1 and 2 of Council Directive 93/83/EEC of 27 September 1993 on the coordination of certain rules concerning copyright and rights related to copyright applicable to satellite broadcasting and cable retransmission, and Articles 2 and 3 of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society in conjunction with Articles 2 and 3 of Directive 2006/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property and with Article 2 of Directive 2006/116/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on the term of protection of copyright and certain related rights, must be interpreted as meaning that rights to exploit a cinematographic work such as those at issue in the main proceedings (reproduction right, satellite broadcasting right and any other right of communication to the public through the making available to the public) vest by operation of law, directly and originally, in the principal director. Consequently, those provisions must be interpreted as precluding national legislation which allocates those exploitation rights by operation of law exclusively to the producer of the work in question.

Judgment of 24 Nov 2011, C-283/10 (Circul Globus)

Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society and, more specifically, Article 3(1) thereof, must be interpreted as referring only to communication to a public which is not present at the place where the communication originates, to the exclusion of any communication of a work which is carried out directly in a place open to the public using any means of public performance or direct presentation of the work.

Judgment of 4 Oct 2011, C-403/08 (Premier League)

‘Communication to the public’ within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29 must be interpreted as covering transmission of the broadcast works, via a television screen and speakers, to the customers present in a public house.

Judgment of 22 Dec 2010, C-393/09 (BSA)

Television broadcasting of a graphic user interface does not constitute communication to the public of a work protected by copyright within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29.

Order of 18 Mar 2010, C-136/09 (Sillogikis)

The hotelier, by installing televisions in his hotel rooms and by connecting them to the central antenna of the hotel, thereby, and without more, carries out an act of communication to the public within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.

Judgment of 7 Dec 2006, C-306/05 (SGAE)

While the mere provision of physical facilities does not as such amount to communication within the meaning of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of copyright and related rights in the information society, the distribution of a signal by means of television sets by a hotel to customers staying in its rooms, whatever technique is used to transmit the signal, constitutes communication to the public within the meaning of Article 3(1) of that directive.

The private nature of hotel rooms does not preclude the communication of a work by means of television sets from constituting communication to the public within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29.


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