The ECJ has ruled that the streaming of illegal content can constitute copyright infringement by the user streaming (ECJ, judgment of 04/26/2017, Case C‑527/15). Even the temporary storage of a work during streaming is protected by copyright law.

In essence, the decision was about the distribution of a media player. According to advertising claims made by the Dutch manufacturer, the device was deliberately equipped with pre-installed add-ons containing hyperlinks that gave access to works published illegally through online streaming sites.

The court held that the sale of such a media player in and of itself constitutes an inadmissible ‘communication to the public’ of the illegal content within the meaning of EU law. Irrespectively – and this is the new facet to the theme – also the user of the media player and not only the party making a work available for streaming – also violates copyrights when using it for the streaming of obviously illegal content.