The e-learning materials you upload to your students often contain links to other materials. For example to websites, articles, pictures or other.

The material that you link to is very often protected by copyright law. So the question remains – is it legal to link to it?.

That used to be doubtful. However, in 2014 the European Court of Justice cut through and clarified the rules. The legal uncertainty that used to prevail no longer exists. See Ophavsret for begyndere – a beginner’s guide to copyright, chapter 5.B.5.

The following rules now apply:

  • As a rule, you are always allowed to link to legal material, that is, material which has been lawfully posted online by those who have made it, or with their permission. Therefore you are allowed to link to, for example,  or for e-learning purposes and in other contexts.  This applies no matter if you are linking to the front page of a website (“reference linking”) or linking to underlying pages, files, etc. (“deeplinking”). And it also applies even if it is a so-called “embedded link”, that is, a link that makes it look as if what you are linking to is on the website you link from. For example, you are allowed to make an embedded link to a legal Youtube video, so it looks as if the video is on your own website. This is linking to legal material, and according to the ECJ this is legal.
  • You are not allowed to link to illegal material, that is, material that is posted online without permission from those who have created it. For example, you may not tell the students to go to and download whichever book that has been posted illegally online. Neither are you allowed to link to an illegal music file which someone has posted online without permission nor to link to a file which the copyright holder has posted on a closed, password protected page which someone else has broken open.
  • What is legal is the actual linking only, that is, inserting an electronic reference starting with www, http, which takes the user somewhere. If you insert copyright protected work where the link is, you normally need permission from the copyright holders. For example: You want to link to a copyright protected photograph on your web page. Therefore you insert a thumbnail version of the photo on your web page and add an underlying link so that when people press the thumbnail version of the photo, they are directed to the right photo. Here the actual linking is legal, but you need permission to include the thumbnail version of the image on the website.
  • Linking for commercial use may in some cases infringe on the Danish Marketing Practices Act. But it would probably have to be very grave for that to happen. In UBVA’s opinion linking which takes place as part of the tuition at an educational institution will normally not constitute an infringement on the the Danish Marketing Practices Act, even when there is no tuition fee. Read more in Ophavsret for begyndere – a beginner’s guide to copyright, chapter 5.B.5. If you are still unsure whether your linking will infringe on the Danish Marketing Practices Act, please contact UBVA for further advice. See contact information at


Leave a Reply