You may have thought it was obviously true, but the legality of linking to other people’s content on the Internet has only just been established in the EU. A recent ruling by the European Court of Justice states that there is no requirement to obtain permission from the copyright holder before linking to another website.

The case was triggered by a complaint in Sweden. A Swedish newspaper, Goteborgs-Posten, questioned whether they should be paid compensation by a website run by Retriever Sverige, which they claimed had made articles available without authorisation.

The good news is that the European Court of Justice said no permission was required to link to articles that were freely available. This ruling, however, does not apply if you are linking to content that is behind a paywall: in this case permission from the copyright holder is required.

On the face of it, this news seems like a very expensive way to establish the blindingly obvious. But it is good news that there is now clear legal protection for anyone in the EU who has a website that links to other’s content.