This decision confirms that it is sufficient that the allegedly infringing content is accessible online from a certain Member State, for the courts situated in that territory to have jurisdiction.

In Pez Hejduk v EnergieAgentur, NRW GmbH, Case C-441/13 (22 January 2015) the CJEU considered the question as to where a copyright owner can bring proceedings for infringement when a third party makes work available online for viewing and downloading without consent.

Facts

In this case, a professional photographer of architecture brought proceedings in Austria, against a conference organiser for infringement of her copyright in photographs by uploading them on its website. The organiser contended that the proceedings could not be brought in Austria, as its website used the German .de top-level domain, and was not directed at users in Austria. It argued that the mere fact that the website was accessible in Austria was not sufficient to confer jurisdiction on the Austrian courts.

The law

Article 2 of the Brussels Regulation provides that persons domiciled in a Member State shall, whatever their nationality, be sued in the courts of that member state.  Article 5(3) is an exception to Article 2, and provides that a person may be sued in another Member State, in matters relating to tort, in the courts for the place "where the harmful event occurred or may occur". 

CJEU case-law shows that Article 5(3) extends to both place where the damage occurred and the place of the event giving rise to it, so that the defendant may be sued, at the option of the applicant, in the courts for either of those places.

Decision

The CJEU held the Austrian court had jurisdiction by virtue of being located where the damage occurred. It ruled that Article 5(3) must be interpreted as meaning that, in the event of an allegation of online infringement of copyright, proceedings may be brought in any Member State where the relevant website is accessible, although each court can only rule on the damage caused in the Member State within which the court is situated (Pinckney EU:C:2913:635 cited).  The court rejected the defendant's argument that the targeting of the website at German website users was relevant.