back to article You're legit and you know you are... Thanks to chanting racist footie fans, linking to dodgy stuff isn't necessarily illegal (well, in Europe)

The complex legal headache of linking to controversial material on the internet has been given additional, but qualified, protections by the European Court of Human Rights. In a decision this week, the court decided that a publisher could not be held liable for hyperlinking to unlawful material – so long as it doesn't endorse …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Interesting

    It will be interesting to hear a qualified opinion on how this ruling relates to UK libel law.

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Re: Lord of the Dance?

    The Tottenham fans' chant to Sol Campbell was probably the most offensive I've ever heard. It's homophobic, racist, anti-Semitic,

    You have not been to an Eastern European or god forbid Russian match especially in days past. I am not going to quote or send references as some of the sh*t which was NORMAL in those days and nobody minded will get you a jail term today.

    So Hungarian football fans singing "interesting" stuff does not surprise me in the slightest (it is also a language I cannot parse, so I have to judge based on rather lousy translation). I have heard Bulgarian, Serbian, Russian (any country around those parts - you name it) sing and shout worse. Much, much worse and let's leave it at that.

    In any case, what they sang is not interesting, the aspects of the decision and the mandatory modifications to libel law which result from it are the interesting bit in this case.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an advocate of free speech I'm often troubled by well meaning attempts to silence some of the more unsavoury elements that abuse free speech in that it also silences genuine and well founded criticism.

    A return to being executed for heresy frightens me far more than harsh words.

  5. wolfetone Silver badge

    The right of free speech includes the right to offend, and it includes the right to defend.

    If someone wants to say something horrific, let them. But it's in the public domain, and it allows those who are offended to state why that person is wrong. Banning such things from being said then allows the original person to cry persecution, and leads others to think why can't it be discussed in a public forum so that people can understand what they said was wrong and disgusting. It gives a chance for all sides to put their case forward, and for the wider audience to understand the situation.

    But banning things just leads to the abuse of power, and in the end that's what festers strong feelings without recourse for education or for people to be told why they believe such and such a thing is wrong. That's what breeds terrorism, that's what breeds underground movements, that's what breeds people to go out at night and target sectors of the public.

  6. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    "If someone wants to say something horrific, let them. But it's in the public domain, and it allows those who are offended to state why that person is wrong."

    In an ideal world, yes.

    Unfortunately, many people are not critical free-thinkers.

    Witness the power that Fox News, Trump, Alex Jones etc. have in the US, and our very own tabloids and brexit campaign.

    If everyone picked up on their bullshit and called them out for it, then fine, but that's not the case, and they can have immense power and followers simply by feeding the people lies.

    The old saying "you can't shout 'fire' in a theatre when there isn't one" is related -- in that case, people will not have time to critically analyse the evidence, and will believe the warning, and panic.

    In these other cases, it's not urgency or panic, it's stupidity and mental lazyness that makes the lies believed.

    It's a difficult one - I'm all for the principal of free speech, even if I disagree with it, and even if it's hateful, but when lies are used to manipulate people, checks and balances are needed.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm all for the principal of free speech, even if I disagree with it, and even if it's hateful, but when lies are used to manipulate people, checks and balances are needed.

    Lies are used in adverting all the time, yes we have the ASA but still lying gets past them all the time. Politicians lie as do used car salesman, it's part of life. I do find it insulting that the self appointed great and the good decide for me which lies I can be presented with and which ones to be believe, I'm a rational thinking human being and it's my choice what sensory input I decide is trash and what's gold.

    Grasshopper must find it's own path.

  8. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    "I do find it insulting that the self appointed great and the good decide for me which lies I can be presented with and which ones to be believe, I'm a rational thinking human being and it's my choice what sensory input I decide is trash and what's gold."

    You may be. Others aren't.

    I find it insulting that we have speed limits, when I know how to drive properly. I find it even more insulting we have speed bumps near schools, which damage my car, despite the fact I'd already drive at virtual walking pace in such circumstances.

    I find it insulting there are security people, and CCTV camera in shops, when I've never stolen, or wanted to, in my life.

    I find it insulting when there are laws to make us wear seatbelts... As if I'd ever drive without wearing one anyway!

    The thing is, it's not all about me, and it's not all about you. We live in a society, and for better or worse, there are laws in place for "the greater good".

    As I said, if everyone was intelligent, and critical-thinking like you, laws on public lying wouldn't be necessary.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The thing is, it's not all about me, and it's not all about you. We live in a society, and for better or worse, there are laws in place for "the greater good".

    But are they, or are they there to protect someone else's good ?

    Human history has a habit of making laws to protect vested interest, the first commandment (and the next three) is all about securing the collection plate with murder coming in at a lowly no 6.

    Law and enforcement is about control then when you do fall foul of the law, you get the justice you can afford.

    Maybe I'm just getting old and cynical.

  10. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    "But are they, or are they there to protect someone else's good ?"

    Oh... I agree with your post generally.. Many laws are for someone else's vested interest. There is a huge legal minefield of unfair laws put there by corrupt people.

    I was talking about the other laws :-)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was talking about the other laws :-)

    Aye, ye cannae break the laws of physics captain.

  12. ratfox Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    But what about memes? Can we still post memes?

    It's interesting to see fairly important rules being decided to resolve case after case. Right now, it does feel like a lot is still undecided and constantly changing.

    I would hope that in time, you could say with certainty that this or that is legal, but I'm not holding my breath.

    PH icon, because it is a public figure whose representation is used for satirical purposes in this context, and therefore allowed under ruling 78290-λ of the ECJ. Or something.

  13. daughterofdevil

    Sing along

    If you linked it and you don't know - it's okay!

    If you linked it and you don't know - it's okay!

    If you linked it and you don't know - even earned some money now,

    if you linked it and you don't know - it's okay!

  14. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Trollface

    Please select your response to this article:

    Please select one of the below choices:

    ( . ) - Fortunately we won't have to put up with this bullshit when we leave the EU.

    ( . ) - A decent ruling. No doubt when we leave the EU our authoritarian government will cave into US pressure and revoke this ruling.

  15. DougS Silver badge

    Re: Please select your response to this article:

    Cave to US pressure? The US has free speech rights far beyond what the EU allows. The US has a lot of overly authoritarian tendencies, but limiting speech is fortunately not one of them.

  16. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Re: Please select your response to this article:

    Sorry, I agree.

    It was badly phrased. When I wrote that post, I was thinking of some of the brexit comments that have generally appeared on this site, and at that point I was thinking of the reaction to GDPR not this particular article.

    My bad

  17. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    Re: The US has a lot of overly authoritarian tendencies, but limiting speech is [..] not one of them

    Don't worry, Trump is not out of office yet. It can still happen.

  18. DougS Silver badge

    Re: The US has a lot of overly authoritarian tendencies, but limiting speech is [..] not one of them

    That's why we are fortunate freedom of speech is enshrined in the Constitution, so is resistant to any attempts to modify it via executive order. His followers would have a cow if a president was able to override the first amendment without changing the Constitution, because that would mean a future president could override the second.

    All Trump can do is call speech he doesn't like "fake news", but his followers' credulity will only extend so far as the evidence piles up against him and the mainstream media reports are proven true. He risks undoing decades of republican effort to cultivate the idea of "liberal media bias" meaning that only Fox News and similar sources can be trusted by republicans. When they learn Fox has been lying to them all along, many will not be happy.

  19. Insert sadsack pun here

    Re: Please select your response to this article:

    The European Court of Human Rights enforces the European Convention on Human Rights in states-signatories that are members of the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe was formed in London before the European Union existed.

    Brexit won't affect it because none of these things are EUey...

  20. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Good English law

    As ever, a journalist expresses his dislike of the English law of libel.

    That law says in effect that if you claim something as fact you must in the last resort be prepared to prove it in court (to a civil standard, less demanding than a criminal standard).

    If you make it clear that it is an opinion, it is necessary only that other people might share that opinion: it does not have to be factual, or politically correct.

    What the law does forbid is reproducing rumour as fact. It also forbids printing something and than claiming that the source cannot be revealed. Both these bans remove a lot of worthless reporting and are worth having.

    PS This is an opinion.

  21. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Re: Good English law

    It also forbids printing something and than claiming that the source cannot be revealed.

    In the US, this would be a serious issue as it would not allow protected whistleblowing or confidential sources. It's a two-edged sword. What protects honest, well-intentioned information releases also protects those of less than honorable acts. Somewhere there's a balance but damned we as a society will be able to find it.

  22. hellwig Silver badge

    Re: Good English law

    So linking content IMPLIES fact? Oh boy, I can only imagine how people in the UK handle Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc...

    This is like "The Invention of Lying". Since no one had ever lied, everything was trusted, regardless of how ridiculous it might seem to an outsider (yes, a meteor is going to destroy the earth in the next 30 minutes unless you have sex with me). Apparently the UK trusts the Internet in the same way? No one would ever lie on the internet, so EVERY single thing linked to by a webpage MUST be fact?

    I mean, I know that's how people in the US react to facebook posts come election time (thanks Zuck!), but in your country, it's LAW?

    And if everything is guilt by association, then wouldn't Jobbik be legally liable for the action of the drunken fans through association (being racist dicks), regardless of any actual intent? Once someone posted on the internet that the fans were part of Jobbik, it became immutable truth!

  23. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Re: Good English law

    "So linking content IMPLIES fact?"

    Not at all. That's not what the ruling implies.

  24. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Re: Good English law

    It's OK, it's not true. Otherwise there'd be no political or investigative reporting in the UK.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So no mention of banned search results and KODI? certainly if the content was illegal where it is hosted then the censors would attack the host directly.

    Shame we are leaving the EU as I for one would like the return of unlimited internet

  26. ashdav

    Kodi is a media player/server so what's your point?

  27. Steve 129

    Catch 22?

    Erm, did I ready this wrong...??

    To be safe I would have to be...

    a) A 'professional' journalist and

    b) Not make money from the link

    ??

    Or is it that you have to check ALL the following boxes to be in danger ?

    You make money from your posts.

    The material isn’t readily available elsewhere.

    You know the material is unlawful.

    You refuse to pull the link when contacted and told it is unlawful.

  28. TheProf
    Devil

    So......

    Does this mean ElReg will now refrain from posting links to the Daily Mail/Express?

  29. EJ

    Re: So......

    As the great US journalist Norm Chad says... "Pay the man, Shirley."

  30. hellwig Silver badge

    Drunken *Soccer* Fans

    You meant Soccer.

  31. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Re: Drunken *Soccer* Fans

    In the majority of the world, it's football. In only a very few countries does football need to be called soccer to differentiate it from Rugby which has been mis-labelled as football :-p

  32. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Nothing to say about the story

    If the Board of your employer was a football team, what would be your favourite chant?

    Mine would be: "Everybody hacks us, we don't care!"

    A few other possibilities spring to mind...

  33. Tom Paine Silver badge

    "You're going home with a golden handshake, ginormous final contribution to your already bulging pension pot and a couple of cosy non-exec posts we'll sort out for you"

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Those Hungarians all say the darndest things...

    Complaining that their hovercrafts are full of eels and such....

  35. Ken Shabby

    Re: Those Hungarians all say the darndest things...

    You are hereby charged that on the 28th day of May, 1970, you did willfully, unlawfully, and with malice of forethought, publish an alleged English-Hungarian phrase book with intent to cause a breach of the peace. How do you plead?

  36. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Re: Those Hungarians all say the darndest things...

    (Reading haltingly from a Hungarian guidebook in excrutiatingly bad Hungarian) I would like to have sex with your sister. RumpyRumpy SpankySpanky.

    (Looking up from the guidebook & in English) I would like to speak to the American Consulate, Please.

    (Snaps the guide closed to reveal the HHGTTG Blob on the cover with the legend "PANIC!" in Hungarian.)

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