Magyar Jeti Zrt v Hungary 2018 ECHR

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Note

In this ruling on a hyperlinks issue, the ECHR relies heavily on the Crookes decision.

Decision Summary

The case originated in an application (no. 11257/16) against Hungary lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by a private limited company registered under Hungarian law, Magyar Jeti Zrt, on 23 February 2016.

The applicant company complained under Article 10 of the Convention that, by finding it liable for the posting of a hyperlink leading to defamatory content on its website, the domestic courts had unduly restricted its freedom of expression.

The decision relies on the Crookes decision, first at para 3:

...hyperlinking does not convey “the linked statements to the audience or communicate its content”. Instead, it merely communicates the existence of such information. This is also the position of the German Federal Constitutional Court, the Canadian Supreme Court, in Crookes v. Newton, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC, whose jurisprudence the Court cites and adopts. Accordingly, referencing via hyperlink “by itself, is content-neutral – it expresses no opinion ...”.

Then at para 31:

In Crookes v. Newton (2011, SCC 47, [2011] 3.S.C.R. 269) the Supreme Court of Canada considered the issue of whether creating a hyperlink to defamatory material constituted publishing the defamatory statements. It held that a person cannot defame someone merely by publishing a hyperlink to a third-party website or document containing defamatory material.

The court found "that the domestic courts' imposition of objective liability on the applicant company was not based on relevant and sufficient grounds. Therefore the measure constituted a disproportionate restriction on its right to freedom of expression."

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Magyar Jeti Zrt v Hungary 2018 ECHR

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