Hyperlinking and copyright

Author: Sadulla Karjiker

ISSN: 1996-2177
Affiliations: Anton Mostert Chair of Intellectual Property Law, Stellenbosch University
Source: South African Law Journal, Volume 139 Issue 1, p. 181-204


This article critically considers the legality of hyperlinking to copyright-protected material on the Internet. It considers the position with respect to standard hyperlinks, and attempts to provide a possible approach in light of the proposed introduction of two new exclusive rights, namely (i) the right of communication to the public; and (ii) the making-available right. These new exclusive rights appear to be an attempt to amend the South African Copyright Act in order to give effect to the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty, which sought to ‘digitise’ copyright law in light of the digital technology that had developed. The WIPO Copyright Treaty supplements, in particular, the rights granted to copyright owners under the Berne Convention, extending the right of communication to the public to include the making-available right. Use will be made of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which has given effect to the right of communication to the public (including the making-available right), following its inclusion in the WIPO Copyright Treaty of 1996. Through a more focused analysis of these exclusive rights, it is intended that this article can provide some guidance to South African lawyers and our courts when considering the application and scope of these exclusive rights.