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.

Filed Under: copyright, embedding, fair use, legal issues, linking
Companies: fomd, movierumor, mpaa


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  1. identicon
    Alexander Muse, 30 Jul 2008 @ 11:03am

    Linking and Embedding

    The concept of linking is well established and yet many lawyers suggest that linking to content can infringe their client's rights. It is unimaginable that I couldn't do the equivalent of, "hey look at this" online. On the other hand, embedding is a different animal.

    Embedding allows you to take content from somewhere else (from the owner's website with his consent or someone else who has posted the owners content with or without the owners consent) and make it part of your own site. My son has a movie review blog where he links to reviews by other people and embeds hem: http://www.ethanmuse.com in just such a way. Embedding is unique because you can make the content seem as if it is part of your web site. This is VERY different than 'linking' to content that resides somewhere else. With content hosting services like YouTube, PhotoBucket, Flickr and Vimeo WHERE the actual data is stored isn't as relevant as it once might have been. The fact that I DIDN'T load the content on my website isn't as important as the fact that I have 'incorporated' the contact within MY website. That incorporation should be allowed ONLY when the content owner has agreed to it. IMHO.

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