Embedding videos can infringe copyright according to the MPAA. Are your embeds safe?

Embedding videos can infringe copyright according to the MPAA. Are your embeds safe?

Summary: The ruling in the recent copyright infringement case Flava vs Gunter has far reaching ramifications for the future of sharing - especially if the MPAA stops the reversal of the court ruling against myVidster.com

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Credit: myVidster.com

Credit: myVidster

The ruling in the recent copyright infringement case of pornography entertainment company, Flava versus Gunter has far reaching ramifications for the future of sharing -- especially if the amicus posted by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) stops the reversal of the court ruling against myVidster.com which has appealed against the ruling.

An amicus curiae brief was posted last week in support of Flava Works. Amicus curiae was incorporated onto English law a thousand years ago. It is used to cover 'relevant matter' not dealt with by either of the parties which may be of considerable help to the decision.

In this case, the MPAA has submitted an amicus supporting Flava in its copyright infringement proceedings against myVidster.com.

Embedding not hosting

Flava is a gay ethnic adult company that produces adult entertainment products which are distributed through DVDs and streaming video. The social video bookmarking web site myVidster.com was created and managed by Marques Ronale Gunter.

More than half the videos on myVidster contain adult pornography. You can bookmark, or post videos on the site for free, or for $40per year, save backup copies of the videos on to its servers.

Flava alleged that myVidster infringed its copyright and trademarks by embedding links to its videos.

According to the amicus, ‘users who posted embedded links to video streams directly infringed the performance right even though they did not necessarily possess a copy of the work’. (p12)

If you post an embedded link to that Star Wars video, you are also directly infringing the performance right. The amicus also argues that ‘the broadcasting of television signals is closely analogous to the streaming of music over the internet.” So streaming TV is subject to copyright too.

The streaming argument is the reason that the extradition of Richard O’Dwyer to the US was approved by the UK government. O’Dwyer, a computer science student, set up TV-Shack, a TV streaming site. Content was streamed through links on TV-Shack, thereby infringing the performance rights of the artists.

Online infringement

Users who posted infringing embedded links on myVidster ‘participated in a step in the process of the unlawful performances and displays, and therefore directly infringed the display and performance rights’.

Online infringement like that occurring on myVidster ‘impairs the ability of copyright owners to recoup their investments in such forms of dissemination and thereby harms consumers, who are deprived of access to new legitimate offerings of expressive content’.

When users link to a video, myVidster crawls the website that hosts the video and embeds the video on its own site. On clicking the link, the video is played from within the myVidster site. The source link and embed code appear on the site. Videos can be tagged so that keyword searches for content can be made.

Initially Flava became aware that myVidster was displaying Flavas videos for free after users complained and myVidster was sent a takedown notice in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Flava claimed lost sales when myVidster posted the embedded videos. Revenue was down 30 per cent from 2010 –- and it estimated a loss of between $100,000 and $200,000.

If you embed something on your own site are you also infringing copyright?

In most cases myVidster was not actually hosting the videos, but using the embed link to the source video. This is essentially what you do every time you embed a YouTube video on your blog, or Facebook, or link to it on Google+.

However, if a user posts a link to a video which had already been embedded by myVidster, then the embed code showed the myVidster server as the hosting sever.

Browser infringement?

Cached copies of images were also questioned. Perfect 10 sued Google's image search service arguing that Google’s indexing of photos and displaying thumbnail images on Google servers violated copyright law.

The cached copies of images on our own browser are safe. Fortunately the court in the Perfect 10 case ruled that browsers are not ’infringing copyright because their computers automatically "cached" a copy of the photo in memory

I hear sounds of I am Spartacus ringing out around the connected world as we collectively breathe a sigh of relief.

For now...

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25 comments
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  • Legal acrobatics and technology do not coexist well.

    The very concept of hyperlinking is anathema to most of the media cartels. Linking is by definition a technology that enables sharing, where the business model for content owners is to prevent sharing in any form, even those covered by "fair use" doctrines.

    The MPAA in particular has a love-hate relationship with technology, because they depend on it to disseminate their goods and to promote themselves. But when the technology allows people to escape the tight controls that the content owners want to enforce, then it is Satan personified to them. That's why they engage in all of these legal acrobatics, to try and "contain the demon" while still utilizing it to their own advantage.

    Eventually we are going to get a US court ruling that essentially criminalizes the World Wide Web and the internet itself. That will also be the day that the country loses all hope of maintaining our innovative edge.
    terry flores
    • Too late... It is already gone.

      All the innovation has been exported to China.

      Now, lawsuits are against students even learning how things work.
      jessepollard
  • Gee, I'm really glad MPAA doesn't get to decide what infringement is.

    That's what Federal courts are for.
    matthew_maurice
    • Justice to the highest bidder

      Lamar Alexander and his predecessors make laws in return for bribes (DMCA), and the courts interpret those laws based on representation from high-priced lawyers for the media cartels. So don't look to the courts or the politicians to "protect" you. They are the ones who sold the citizens rights down the river.
      terry flores
    • yea

      Heaven forbit they do any real law stuff.
      rparker009
      • Feds rival MPAA for serving up scheiss

        @terry flores
        [i]So don't look to the courts or the politicians to "protect" you.[/i]

        @parker009
        [i]Heaven forbit they do any real law stuff. [/i]

        At least some folks are paying attention.
        klumper
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  • hotlinking

    This is why you disabling hotlinking ;) or install protextion to prevent it.

    Also nothing wrong with embeding as long as the source is published, so people know where the video came from.


    I guess more should be done to protect their videos so only authorized users can view them, or users that are signed in.
    ShqTth
  • Embedded Links

    I would have thought that embedded links that connect to the original source would be similar to footnotes in research papers. It sounds like the embedded links act like a back door to the content instead of going through the other site's monetizing apparatus. It also sounds like the source site is sloppy in handling access to paid content and is blaming everyone else.
    sboverie
  • Once again...

    ... the pr0n industry leads the way in Internet strategy and innovation.
    ejhonda
    • Which is another way of saying...

      ... you're being led around by your *....* ['nuff said]
      klumper
      • Some people...

        pay a lot of money for that kind of thing, you know?
        mlashinsky@...
  • Hmm.....

    If you embed someone else's work without permission, why wouldn't you be liable for copyright violation?

    That being said, I believe that Youtube and most other video sharing sites have options to allow others to embed your videos or not, so I would say that if the allow embedding option is left on, that would imply permission.

    If embedding is not allowed and you find a way to embed it anyway, then I would think that you are definitely in violation of copyright laws.

    I think the best way to handle this would be to use a link to the original source rather than embed the video in that case.
    cmwade1977
  • The MPAA/RIAA write laws and then bend them even further.

    Look at ANY law created to limit consumer rights for purchased media and you will find that the person who introduced the legislation was taking money from the MPAA and RIAA. These evil organizations own far more than half of our lawmakers. The reasons we fought the American Revolution are alive and well in our own government today. The voters' interests are no longer represented. Rich corporations run things via closed-door sessions and covert meetings where our rights are sold to the highest bidder. We are losing more of our rights and freedoms every day.

    Our government was intended to protect the people from tyranny, not facilitate it. In every case, it should be our citizen-elected government protecting us from zealous corporate greed. They shouldn't be protecting the corporations from the citizens, quite the opposite. They are supposed to be working for us. Things in our government have gone very wrong in the past 50 years and a time is coming when we will need to step up and set things right or forever be oppressed by rich tyrants. Let's hope the sheep in this country have the guts to stand up for what's right and fair.
    BillDem
    • Death by a thousand cuts

      It amounts to a kinder, gentler form of tyranny. Welcome to the new America.
      klumper
      • Unfortunately it is more like

        'Welcome to the New World' so long as the US is seen as the Sheriff in Town (as we saw in the Megaupload case)... your legal inefficiencies effect more than just you guys. So long as you sheep play like lemmings and let this cr@p slide (instead of making your presence know as voting citizens.... and it would be nice if more of you could actually vote!) the longer the rest of us keep getting dragged into the mud! FFS shut this cr@p down already!!!!!!!
        kaninelupus
    • Amen

      Amen to that brother. But I don't think the apethetic sheeple in the U.S. will ever stand up. And if they did try in this new age of police states, they would be quickly squashed like a grape by the very people they voted in to protect them....
      Tinman57
  • It Should be Legal

    In my opinion, it should be legal as long as the content isn't being sold. It's like sharing a DVD or CD with a friend. Nothing illegal about that. How come the MPAA & RIAA aren't going after public libraries? These are the real 'villains' when it comes to sharing DVDs, CDs, and the written word.
    blitonm
  • Intellectual Property is a difficult concept for some people.

    When you write a book, make a photograph, write a song or a symphony, you have
    created "intellectual property". Other people may not copy and distribute your
    intellectual property without your consent. When you buy a book, the author
    gets a "royalty". That's MONEY in the author's pocket. When you buy a recording
    of a piece of music, the author gets a royalty, and so does the performer. You get the right to play the recording. You can invite friends to listen to it but you cannot charge them for it. If you want to play that recording on your radio show you must pay a royalty each time you you broadcast it.

    The author and the performer are both entitled to a royalty each time the music is
    performed or played for payment. You may get away with it but if you get caught,
    your a** is grass!
    draco vulgaris
    • Sad thing is...

      In any MPAA dispute it has nothing to do with the artist's rights being disputed but 'big media' and the production companies. You think the MPAA gives a cr@p about the 'actors' screwing each other in front of the camera? More entertainment to be had screwing over the general public!
      kaninelupus