An important judgment on the interpretation of distribution rights was handed down on 13 May 2015 by the Court of Justice of the European Union. The judgment ruled that copyright owners could prevent an unauthorised trader to offer for sale or address a targeted advertisement of the original or a copy of a protected work, even if it is not established that the advert gave rise to the purchase of the protected work by an EU buyer.
The judgement was triggered by a preliminary ruling request from the German Bundesgerichtshof in an alleged infringement proceedings that saw two Italian companies contending their rights in relation to specific pieces of furniture designed by Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and protected by copyright in Germany.
The Fourth Chamber ruled that
Article 4(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that it allows a holder of an exclusive right to distribute a protected work to prevent an offer for sale or a targeted advertisement of the original or a copy of that work, even if it is not established that that advertisement gave rise to the purchase of the protected work by an EU buyer, in so far as that advertisement invites consumers of the Member State in which that work is protected by copyright to purchase it.
To convey its judgement the Court has interpreted the InfoSoc Directive in the light of the “making available” right enshrined in Art. 6(1) the WIPO Copyright Treaty and referred to previous case law, namely Blomqvist, Donner and Peek & Cloppenburg.
Case C-516/13 Dimensione Direct Sales Srl, Michele Labianca v Knoll International SpA [13 May 2015] is available here.