Spanish case law about hyperlinks
A Spanish judge last month dismissed charges against a website accused of
hyperlinking to illegal material. The website www.ajoderse.com (which means
‘fuck off’) was accused based on the article 17 of the LSSICE (the Spanish
version of the European E-Commerce Directive). The site includes hyperlinks
to websites which, supposedly, describe techniques to descramble TV
satellite signals, to get pay TV for free.
The judge gave 2 reasons to dismiss the case:
A) It was not properly stated in court that the linked pages where indeed
B) It was not clearly shown that the owners of ajoderse.com were aware of
the illegal nature of the linked webpages.
Without proof of these two prerequisites the judge would not apply article 17.
Nevertheless, article 17 could still turn out to be a powerful instrument
for digital censorship. It is easy for the Spanish government to declare
some site illegal, make it public in a newspaper, and then ask for the
closure of every annoying web with hyperlinks to the now illegal site.
The sentence is important because it is the first application of the
LSSICE, and it shows how this legislation differs from the European
directive it is supposed to mimic, as the last one has no provisions about
linking to illegal pages.
Text of the sentence (in Spanish) (07.03.2003)
(Contribution by David Casacuberta, CPSR)