Judge rules that embedding copyright-infringing video is not illegal

By on August 3, 2012, 11:30 AM

Judge Richard Posner of the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that embedding a copyright-infringing video on another website is not illegal. The decision overturns a 2011 preliminary injunction from a lower court following a lawsuit from Flava Works against social video bookmarking site MyVidster.

The judge noted that MyVidster “doesn’t touch the data stream” related to the infringing videos since they are hosted elsewhere on the Internet and they aren’t responsible for any misdoings. Furthermore, the site doesn’t encourage video swapping, an action that would then encourage infringement, according to the ruling.

The judge likened the actions of MyVidster to that of the New Yorker. That publication gives the name and address of theaters where entertainment can be found but they don’t actually perform them. “Is MyVidster doing anything different?” the judge asked.

In 2010, Flava Works, a pornography production company, sued the social site after it was discovered that they were embedding copyright-infringing clips of Flava Works’ material obtained from third party websites.

For what it’s worth, both Google and Facebook filed paperwork in support of MyVidster citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Both outlets suggested that MyVidster are simply intermediaries and they shouldn’t be held responsible for someone else uploading copyrighted material to their site. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also sided with the social video site while it comes as little surprise that the Motion Picture Association of America backed Flava Works in the dispute. It remains to be seen how this ruling will affect other similar cases that are still pending.




User Comments: 15

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lipe123 said:

Not to be overly critical but wont it make more sense to have the topic be: Judge rules that embedding copyright-infringing video is legal.

But we could always elaborate some more like:

Judge rules that not embedding copyright-infringing video isn't not illegal =P Double negatives are so much fun.

This is also just so silly, its like taking a picture of a crime. The picture isn't a crime the freaking crime is the crime! People are always busy trying to push responsibly off to someone else so they don't need to deal with it

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

People are always busy trying to push responsibly off to someone else so they don't need to deal with it

I think it has more to do with who can be sued rather than who is responsible. You can't sue stonerdude420 for posting something, but you can a company with assets.

Tygerstrike said:

Yep its all about who has the money. Since more and more Judges are cracking down on frivilous lawsuits, ppl have changed thier focus. However I think the judge in this case may be incorrect in his ruling. Yes the website itself may not be liable for embedded copyright info, if they collect ANY fees for the useof thier website they would be profiting from coptrighted material they have no right to collect on. Atleast not w/o paying the original artist. But thats only if they collect any membership dues or allow for micro transactions within the website itself.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

"Yes the website itself may not be liable for embedded copyright info, if they collect ANY fees for the useof thier website they would be profiting from coptrighted material they have no right to collect on."

So you are saying the website is not liable, yet if they make any money they are liable?

Tygerstrike said:

Yes.....IF they earn profits by membership fees AND they still run embedded videos it can be argued that they are profiting from other ppls intelectual property. BUT thats only if they profit from membership fees.

TJGeezer said:

@Tygerstrike - "it can be argued that..." sounds like a lawyer or academic stepping away from a position they don't really want to support. Then again you did say the judge might be wrong, and I'm unclear why a paid membership in a site where people trade links makes the site responsible for the links that the members trade. That seems like a legal position almost custom-made to make member-supported, niche interest groups impossibly risky to start. Or in the analog world, like holding the post office responsible if someone buys a stamp to mail, say, a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover to someplace where that book has been banned. Seems absurd.

Guest said:

MPAA backed a porn company?? Wonder how the conservatives in congress will explain porn money funding their campaign? Guess Romney will come out to support pron.

Tygerstrike said:

@TJ

Just simply pointing out that though the website itself wouldnt be liable for the actions of its members, it would be liable if they PROFIT from the copyrighted material through any form of fees they collect. Kinda like a movie theater. Every movie theater signs a contract that pays a certain amout of the ticket price to the person who controls the movie.

TJGeezer said:

@Tygerstrike - Thanks. Now I can see the logic, though such analogies can be tricky. I guess a lot depends on whether the site is like a carrier (is FedEx responsible for the contents of the packages its employees carry for a fee?) or a content provider (like a theater, which has control over what they show and who they show it to). Still, as you said, the logic is there and it "can be argued" (just not by me).

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It's my opinion that TechSpot is responsible for links that members post. There are links taken down all the time, that do not meet the posting requirements of the website. I fail to see why one site would monitor their links for fear of being held responsible, while another site's links are being ignored. Maybe there is not that much to fear, from allowing any type of link on a site after all.

Tygerstrike said:

@TJ

I think the example of Fedex is funny. Because they are responsible for the box itself and not the contents.

@Cliff

TechSopts business is all about informing ppl of upcomming product and trends. Sites like TBP and others...Thier model is the storing and sharing of files. TechSpot does monitor thier own site so that any links posted are quickly taken down. The other sites, well they wouldnt make any money.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

TechSpot does monitor thier own site so that any links posted are quickly taken down.
My point is based around why TechSpot takes the links down, not the fact that they do. Why would TechSpot take down links if there where no repercussions or legalities involved?

Tygerstrike said:

Its a great question. I dont know the answer. I can take a few guesses on the why. Most being that someone could post a link that sends someone to a malicous site or maybe to pron.

Shawn!!! Give us a heads up on that question.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

TechSopts business is all about informing ppl of upcomming product and trends. Sites like TBP and others...Thier model is the storing and sharing of files. TechSpot does monitor thier own site so that any links posted are quickly taken down. The other sites, well they wouldnt make any money.

Torrent sites generally don't store illegal files. TPB and others argue that they're nothing but a search index, not unlike Google, except they focus on a certain type of material -- material that generally violates copyright laws. They don't host the illegal content, they essentially tell users where to find the illegal content. Obviously many copyright holders, judges and legislators don't buy that argument, because many people and organizations have been sued for inducing copyright infringement. That's why sites like TS forbid links to torrents and so on. It's obviously frowned upon and it's just not worth the potential hassle/risk. At least that's how I see it, but I'm no expert.

Guest said:

This is just ridiculous. How come they did not come to their door to let them know that they have a cut coming since so many more customers went and saw those movies based on the clip. People are just sue happy!

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