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Is Embedding Infringement? MPAA Sues Two Sites

from the we-may-find-out dept

While we still need to wait for the end result of the YouTube/Viacom case to learn whether hosting infringing videos is infringement itself, there's another open question about whether or not linking to or embedding infringing videos is also infringing. It seems difficult to understand how it could be infringing, as it's no different than pointing someone to freely available content (and, technically, linking and embedding are no different at all -- it's just some HTML). The person (or computer) doing the linking or embedding has no idea whether the content being linked or embedded is infringing -- and it seems reasonable to believe that if it's available online, there's nothing wrong with linking to it.

Yet, here we have the MPAA suing two sites that both link to and embed various movies. The two sites in question, FOMD (Found Online Movie Database) and MovieRumor, don't host the movies themselves. They merely point people to various movies that are publicly available online. It would seem like a rather drastic stretch of copyright law to claim that is also infringement, but don't be too surprised at how this will be argued. The MPAA will play on emotional, rather than rational, arguments -- and it may actually work, given some similar cases in the past.

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 30 Jul 2008 @ 10:51am

    Re: Linking vs Embedding

    Embedding content into your own content is no different than taking someone's professional photo and including it into a flyer or pamphlet or even your own book. Without their permission you are in violation of the Copyrights. I'd think that this same type of violation would carry over to embedding the content on your website.

    But the process of embedding and link is nearly identical. It's just a single line of code. It seems ridiculous that one gets one standard and the other a different.

    Furthermore, as others pointed out, unlike putting someone's photo in your own book, with an embed, the original owner still has TOTAL control. They can change the content on the embed at will (or take it down).

    That's quite different than taking someone else's content and making use of the *copy*, as you describe.

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