In context

CJ: one can sue before any EU court for online infringement

November 11, 2013
In context

The CJ ruled that the relevant criterion for establishing jurisdiction in online copyright infringement cases is whether copies of the infringed works are accessible online in the member state of the court addressed. This is a considerably lower threshold than the criterion that the website activity be directed at that member state, as established in earlier case law.

In Pinckney v Mediatech a copyright infringing CD was made by a company in Austria and sold by several companies in the UK on a website which was also accessible in France. The French copyright owner sued the Austrian company in France. Questions regarding the jurisdiction of the French court ended up in Luxembourg before the Court of Justice (“CJ“).


The CJ ruled that in the case of a copyright infringement committed on or via a website, the court will be able to hear the action if the website is accessible in that court’s jurisdiction. This is an approach that deviates from earlier case law. According to prior rulings, the claimant had to prove that the website was specifically targeted at consumers in the member state where protection was being requested. The sole limitation is that the national court of the country of access can only award damages suffered in that jurisdiction.


This ruling will make it easier for national courts of the member states to establish jurisdiction when a copyright infringement takes place on or via a generally accessible website. Copyright owners as a consequence will be able to sue the entities in the courts of any member state from where the infringing contents are accessible. This should be especially useful in proceedings where provisional (injunction) measures are requested or in main proceedings when the infringer is based outside the EEX since in those cases it might be possible to obtain a cross-border measure. This is likely to apply to online infringement of other IP rights as well.

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