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New York federal judge rules news outlets violated copyright by embedding a tweet

By Polycount ยท 15 replies
Feb 16, 2018
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  1. Embedding tweets, videos and images on one's blog or website is a pretty common practice. However, if a recent New York federal court ruling is any indication, that seemingly harmless act may land you in quite a bit of trouble in the future.

    The ruling in question came after several, several news websites -- including Time, Yahoo, Vox and Breitbart -- embedded a tweet containing a photo of NFL player Tom Brady.

    The photographer responsible for capturing the photo, Justin Goldman, accused the news outlets of violating his exclusive copyright, an assertion the judge presiding over the case has since agreed with:

    "[W]hen defendants caused the embedded Tweets to appear on their websites, their actions violated plaintiff’s exclusive display right; the fact that the image was hosted on a server owned and operated by an unrelated third party (Twitter) does not shield them from this result."

    In a statement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called the ruling a "[Rejection of] years of settled precedent," noting that it could easily extend far beyond mere tweet embedding to the realm of "all in-line linking." The Foundation also said this ruling, if it was adopted by other courts, could "threaten millions of ordinary Internet users with infringement liability."

    Strangely, Judge Forrest repeatedly refers to the process of embedding as "the act of a coder."

    In her ruling, she also implies hundreds of thousands of users who utilize the process have an understanding of programming languages such as HTML.

    Unusual wording aside, this ruling is certainly a concerning development for news outlets and blogs alike. As the EFF said in their statement, however, it's possible this ruling could be appealed and ultimately overturned at a later date. For the time being, it may be best to avoid embedding tweets on your website or blog if at all possible.

    Permalink to story.

  2. senketsu

    senketsu TS Guru Posts: 819   +551

    "The photographer responsible for capturing the photo, Justin Goldman, accused the news outlets of violating his exclusive copyright" It's not so much the tweet, but the photo. Photographers who make a living out of selling their images have been totally burned by the internet (I don't know about this particular photographer). Picture goes up, gets copied a zillion times with the photographer making nothing. This should have been dealt with years ago. I have zero idea of how this can be handled now. Kinda like locking the gate after the horse has bolted.
    Uncle Al and Evernessince like this.
  3. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 5,231   +4,374

    Exactly. This is why any decent photographs should be watermarked prior to upload.
    Evernessince likes this.
  4. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,184   +2,425

    Yes, a very visible watermark. If someone wants a low key watermark version they can pay for usage. I've already had my images stolen multiple times and companies like Google don't give 2 cents about small time guys.
  5. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,005   +1,395

    And make it low resolution as possible.
  6. Polycount

    Polycount TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,269   +309

    This is actually one of the best things you can do. Watermarks can be removed (with a little effort, and its not foolproof) but a low resolution image is significantly harder to actually make use of.

    That said, it would also look terrible in image search, so it may not even interest people in the first place... Tough balancing act.
    cliffordcooley and stewi0001 like this.
  7. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,425   +2,885

    Not to mention that ANY copyrighted photograph requires a rendering of payment for each and EVERY time it is used. I'm not sure but I think copywritten material has a 20 year lifespan before it becomes considered public domain, but that's a guess at best. In any case, that photographer is due his payments!
  8. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,923   +3,299

    I'm not sure on the specifics of a single photograph, but for written works and film, it's now more on the order of 90 years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Term_Extension_Act

    In any event, I run into protected photos I can't embed here all the time. You get a blank image icon, along with "[IMG}", and no picture

    This seems like a bunch of "bait and switch bullsh!t". Either protect the photo when it's uploaded, or watermark and mark it "Copyright@". Besides, if the photo wasn't formally submitted for copyright, which requires a fee and copy of the work, it's a tough case to win.

    Although in this case, apparently not in front of a pretty clueless federal judge.

    And I guess low resolution helps too. Again, if you dump a bunch of 10 Meg Jpegs. up to the web, you pretty much deserve whatever happens with them.

    Although it could be said in favor of this action and result, it will make big news outlets think twice before they simply appropriate a photographer's work. It kind of let's them know they still have to pay for either staff photographers, or pay for material.

    You or I, likely wouldn't have wound up in Federal court, if we downed the image, then used it as wallpaper.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2018
  9. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,704   +988

    If it helps in the destruction of twitter, I'm all for it!
  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,923   +3,299

    Really. If all those bold and hysterical left wing predictions had been correct, Trump would have driven the majority of users off Twitter by now.
  11. drjekelmrhyde

    drjekelmrhyde TS Addict Posts: 298   +89

    His/her comment has nothing to do with politics. There are billions of reasons not to like twitter.
    p51d007 likes this.
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,923   +3,299

    And I sincerely would appreciate if you withheld listing them. I'm not a member, nor do I ever intend to be.

    Having Twitter's shortcoming listed, would be like getting the bone, without ever tasting the roast, metaphorically speaking.
    senketsu and Polycount like this.
  13. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,038   +555

    This is why we need judges who understand the cases they are presiding over - too many technically illiterate ones.
  14. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,923   +3,299

    What mistake do you think this judge made?

    Most sites, where uploaded material is posted, (I think), claim copyright to said material. If it weren't so politically incorrect, Twitter itself, could possibly have cause of action against the newspaper. (The irony is, that the newspaper could give Twitter tons of,, "bad press", even if it was in the wrong).

    With that said, I don't think this judge made any mistake. You can refer to my post #8, if you like. A copy of the copyright extension act is also linked.

    The one sticking point is the "fair use" clause, in copyright law. However that said "fair use" is negated when someone uses material outright in pursuit of monetary gain. There isn't any doubt as to whether a news paper or organization such as a wire service, is a commercial. entity
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
  15. Wizwill

    Wizwill TS Enthusiast Posts: 92   +39

    As both a professional writer and a professional photographer, the general current wisdom in the industry is that by posting material, either words or images, on the Internet, with or without a copyright symbol and/or notice, one is giving their material away.

    The law is several iterations behind incorporating the state of current media dissemination of IP (intellectual property) into legal definitions of ownership and methods of compensation. It isn't the small cost for a user to pay for viewing an image or reading a column. Most copyright holders would be happy to accept a few cents per viewing for content displayed on 100,000-hit-a-day web site to pay for usage rights.

    It is the infrastructure needed to collect and redistribute the proceeds. More importantly, it is the refusal of those 'eating from the plates of others' to cease their parasitic fees and licensing schemes.

    The music recording industry has changed dramatically with streaming and single songs being sold by artists on their websites for reasonable payment ($1 a song in many cases) instead of records being controlled by record companies.

    I suggest payment at utterance for IP and no continuing fees. The current method doesn't work any longer.
  16. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,923   +3,299

    Cross linking can be blocked. I know this from experience. I'm far from an IT genius, but it seems to be server side, and more often than not, said blocked images are coming from news organizations. So, if they're going to block their proprietary images from use by others, then it's obvious they should be made to pay for those which they currently seem to be trying to steal for themselves.

    Off the top of my head, I imagine the problem lies with Twitter's handling of of uploaded images, in not offering a way of blocking cross linking. Of course Twitter is serving its own interests by making everything available for, "retweeting". Dedicated image sites such as Flickr, do allow uploaded images to remain "private".

    Photo sites such as "P-Base", (if they still exist), use script blocking to deter downloading, and the photographers seem to have enough sense to upload at low resolutions.

    Right, I imagine they would. Have you run the math on that, or have I misunderstood what you're trying to say? Prima facia, even, "1 cent per viewing times 100,000 thousand views" is $1,000.00 per day. And really, if those, aforementioned copyright holders are hoping for a payday like that, they should put their crack pipes down, and get real jobs. Unless of course, I've missed the intent of your posted maths.

    It is a supreme irony that those that do the least in any artistic discipline, seem to make the most money. But then, being a stockbroker or a copyright attorney, wouldn't fulfill the emotional needs of creative individuals.

    About that, as it stands, I've seen musicians displaying 16 dollar checks for a million streams of one of their songs.So yeah, the infrastructure needs work.

    I have a pet peeve that if an artist allows his, her, or their work, to go out of print, or become unavailable in any way, ,then they should lose the rights to it, allowing others to share it without guilt or legal penalty
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018

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