Friday, November 21, 2008

Linking is legal !

Researching and writing about e-books, haunted by the Clevenger iceberg (another story for another day), my mind is still on the topic of embedded video in blogs. While it appears from my research that this is still an easy debate to argue from both sides, legal precedent seems to allow for this “linking” of video to private blogs and other Websites including MySpace and Facebook pages. Given the research I have done, which I will share below, I feel comfortable, at least for now, “linking” (read: embedding) videos, slideshows, and podcasts into this blog. I admit, my sources are primarily other blogs, but they appear knowledgeable and certainly involved in the debate. I welcome any comments or thoughts in agreement or disagreement regarding the legal or ethical considerations of embedded content in our blogs.

The Citizen Law Media Project explains that “linking to another website does not infringe the copyrights of that site, nor does it give rise to a likelihood of confusion necessary for a federal trademark infringement claim” ("Linking to Copyrighted," 2008). The article continues to describe that “deep linking,” linking to “a particular page within another site (i.e., other than its homepage)” has never been identified by a court as either copyright or trademark infringement. (“Linking”) While off topic, this is comforting information as I create my own directories of favorite links.

Though admitting “there is some uncertainty on this point” the article describes that inline linking or embedding, “placing a line of HTML on your site that so that your webpage displays content directly from another site,” when tried in a recent case in “the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that inline linking does not directly infringe copyright because no copy is made on the site providing the link; the link is just HTML code pointing to the image or other material. See Perfect 10, Inc. v. Google, Inc. , 508 F.3d 1146 (2007). Other courts may or may not follow this reasoning. However, the Ninth Circuit's decision is consistent with the majority of copyright linking cases which have found that linking, whether simple, deep, or inline, does not give rise to liability for copyright infringement. For discussion of these cases, see The Internet Law Treatise” (“Linking”).

“The situation changes when you knowingly link to works that clearly infringe somebody's copyright, like pirated music files or video clips of commercially distributed movies and music videos. In this situation, you might be liable for what is known as "contributory copyright infringement." Contributory copyright infringement occurs by "intentionally inducing or encouraging direct infringement" of a copyrighted work” (“Linking”). Fred vonLohman from the Electronic Frontier Foundation agrees that common sense to avoid commercially distributed media and to respect any rights published or indicated should protect bloggers from potential copyright violation when embedding content (“Linking,” 2008; vonLohman, 2007). On his Website, Christopher Heng points out that YouTube and most media hosting services offer users posting content the choice whether to “enable or disable the EMBED code for their videos. . . In theory, if the owner enables the EMBED code for others to use, it means that they” are willing and even pleased to have others embed their video (2008).


Bailey, J. (2007, December 20). Why I embed my images. In Plagiarism Today [PT blog]. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from‌2007/‌12/‌20/‌why-i-embed-my-images/

Heng, C. (2008). Is it okay to post YouTube videos on my website? (copyright question). In The site wizard. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from‌general/‌embed-youtube-video-copyright-matters.shtml

Howell, D. (2007, July 9). Embedding a headache. In Lawgarithms [blog]. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from‌Howell/‌?p=146

Linking to copyrighted materials. (2008, June 3). Citizen Law Media Project. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from‌legal-guide/‌linking-copyrighted-materials

Ross, P. (2008, November 12). Copyright in a free market. In Copyright Alliance [blog]. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from‌2008/‌11/‌copyright-in-a-free-market/

VonLohman, F. (2007, July 9). YouTube embedding and copyright. In Electronic Frontier Foundation [EFF DeepLinks Blog]. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from‌deeplinks/‌2007/‌07/‌youtube-embedding-and-copyright

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