Is It Copyright Infringement To Embed An Infringing YouTube Video On Your Blog?
from the questions,-questions,-questions dept
While there has been a great deal of discussion (and a few lawsuits) concerning the legality of YouTube hosting infringing videos, one question where we haven't seen very much discussion is the legal liability for people who embed infringing YouTube videos on their sites. One of the great features of YouTube was that each video provided a line of HTML that would allow you to embed the video directly into your site -- exactly as we've done a few times. However, is that act -- of putting the HTML embed code on your site -- copyright infringement if the video is infringing? After all, the actual video is still hosted by YouTube. The person who uploaded it is someone entirely different. All you've done is put a single line of HTML on your page -- but it's not hard to see how some might see that as infringing. In fact, we may have an example of exactly that. Ronald Lewis let us know about a typical cease-and-desist letter he received from a lawyer because he had some blog posts that embedded YouTube videos of musician Michael McDonald. Lewis didn't upload the videos. He's not hosting the videos. He simply put a single line of HTML (provided by YouTube for this specific purpose) on his website, and it would then display the video. There are plenty of other questions raised by this as well, such as whether or not the videos really infringe, why a lawyer would want to stop someone from promoting the music of someone (since it's unlikely that anyone would stop buying music because they saw a video on YouTube). There's also the fact that Lewis claims he's been friends with McDonald for a decade to make the whole situation awkward. But, honestly, the much more interesting (and rarely discussed) question concerns the liability of those who embed infringing videos. My guess is that it won't be long before we start seeing a lot more threats and lawsuits over embedded videos from bloggers who have no idea they're putting themselves at risk simply for putting a line of code into a blog post.