We’ve written before over the controversy as to whether embedding pictures or video served by a social media site on your website negates the need to get explicit permission from the copyright owner for that use. For years, many had relied on old court decisions that employed a “server test” – a site was only liable for the use of copyrighted material if that material resided on the same server as the rest of the website content being made available by the site’s owner. But that test seems to be falling by the wayside based on a number of recent cases (see our articles here and here). Another decision was released the week before last by a US District Court Judge that seems to further advance that trend.
In a case brought against Sinclair Broadcast Group, video of a starving polar bear was posted by Sinclair on websites that it controlled without permission of the individual who recorded it. The video was posted as part of an article on the popularity of the video. The videographer sued – and Sinclair responded that it could not have copyright liability as it did not host the video, but instead merely embedded a link to Instagram where the videographer had posted the video. In his decision denying a motion to dismiss, the Judge determined that intentionally embedding the code that brought up that video whenever a website visitor visited a Sinclair site was a “display” of the video by Sinclair and the functional equivalent of hosting the video on Sinclair’s own servers, so the infringement claim could not be dismissed. The Judge did, however, allow Sinclair to continue to argue that, in the context the video was displayed, the use may have been a “fair use.”
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