Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

ECHRts: Hungarian Statute Imposing Strict Liability For Linking To Defamatory Content Is Violation of ECHR, Article 10

New ruling from the European Court of Human Rights: a Hungarian law imposing strict liability for the dissemination of defamatory material violates Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. From the press release concerning Magyar Jeti Zrt v Hungary (application no. 11257/16):


Relying on Article 10 (freedom of expression), the applicant company complained that by finding it liable for posting a hyperlink on its website which led to defamatory content the domestic courts had unduly restricted its rights....The Court highlighted the importance of hyperlinks for the smooth operation of the Internet by making information available through linking. When it came to reporting, hyperlinks were different from other traditional acts of publication as they did not present content or communicate it, but directed users to information available elsewhere or called readers’ attention to its existence. The content behind a hyperlink had also already been made available by the original publisher, providing unrestricted access to the public. Given such considerations the Court did not agree with the Hungarian courts’ approach of equating the posting of a hyperlink with the dissemination of defamatory information, which led to objective liability....Such objective liability could have negative consequences on the flow of information on the Internet by impelling authors and publishers to refrain altogether from hyperlinking to material whose content they could not control. That could directly or indirectly have a chilling effect on freedom of expression on the Internet.

Here is a link to the ruling.

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