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. identicon
    Ryan, 30 Jul 2008 @ 11:02am

    In perspective

    Most people say it all depends mostly on who's hosting the material in question. But linking, hotlinking, and embedding does walk a fine line between showing someone the way to something and being a part of the party itself.

    Sure, you may not host it yourself, but what if you found a video of child abuse or rape or soemthing else of an illegal nature, would linking to it constitute your condoning of such acts? And wouldn't your failure to report such illegal activity make you an accomplice to the illegal act? Most would say 'yes'. Why wouldn't the same apply with linking to or embedding material that breaks copyright laws, unless expressed specifically otherwise by the copyright holder?

    We all want the laws to bend to our specific needs as long as it works out in our favor. Copyright laws are there so people do not rip off someone's hard work and use it as their own. People have lost site of that for the simple pleasure of getting something for free. It is illegal. Bottom line. If you don't like it, good luck trying to do away with copyright laws. Because that is the only way you will ever win.

    And I won't hold my breath for that day.

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