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EU Court Rules Embedding Not Copyright Infringement

Posted by: , 14:51 AEDT, Thu October 30, 2014

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Embedding not copyright infringement, rules EU Court of Justice
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Image/Photo Credit: davidnicholson1978 @ Flickr, CC

A EU court has handed down a landmark ruling that does not classify embedding as a form of copyright infringement.

Ruling in a case involving a video produced by a water filtering company, and the use of that video by agents working for a competitor, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that just by embedding an existing video onto a web page, even without the video owner's permission, cannot be considered copyright infringement under European law. For this specific case, the original video was uploaded to YouTube, and the defendants in the case embedded the video onto their personal web pages.

As long as the video has not been altered or communicated to a new audience that the original video could not reach, then the embed is not a new communication, the court ruled.

"The embedding in a website of a protected work which is publicly accessible on another website by means of a link using the framing technology ... does not by itself constitute communication to the public within the meaning of [the EU Copyright directive] to the extent that the relevant work is neither communicated to a new public nor by using a specific technical means different from that used for the original communication," the Court’s verdict reads.

The Court's decision is based on established precedent that found linking to an existing piece of content also cannot be considered a form of copyright infringement.

The ruling could have major implication in Europe, as the ruling could affect some pending piracy cases. Elsewhere, the ruling could put a halt to efforts by legislative bodies, including the US Senate, to extend copyright laws to cover embedded content.


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