On Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011 at 9:45 the Supreme Court of Canada ("SCC") will announce its long awaited decision in Crookes v. Newton, in which the issue was whether merely providing a hyperlink to an article, without quoting from it or commenting on it, could constitute publication of the impugned article and hence could in itself be defamatory. Here's the SCC summary.
The case clearly raises very important issues. There was a lengthy dissent in the British Columbia Court of Appeal judgment below.
The outcome could have significant and immediate implications for copyright law. For example, Access Copyright is taking the position in a current hearing that merely linking to a website creates an entitlement to payment as part of the its proposed post-secondary tariff that seeks a 1,300% increase over the current basic rate.
Indeed, if the Court holds that mere hyperlinking creates liability, there could be enormous implications for the internet generally. The "World Wide Web" (i.e. "www”) was and is built upon hyperlinks.