Court Ruling: Embedding & Linking To Infringing Video Doesn’t Violate Copyright Laws

By Megan O'Neill 

A ruling is in on whether watching, linking to and embedding copyright infringing videos is lawful…at least in one case.  In a court decision in a case of Flava Works against myVidster, 7th Court judge Richard Posner ruled that “as long as the visitor makes no copy of the copyrighted video that he is watching, he is not violating the copyright owner’s exclusive right.”

Janko Roettgers of GigaOM reported on the decision writing that, “A video site that lets users bookmark and share embedded videos from other websites doesn’t commit copyright infringement – and just watching a stream of a video that someone else has uploaded isn’t infringing either.”

Roettgers quotes the following from Judge Richard Posner’s ruling (PDF, via Eric Goldman):

“myVidster is giving web surfers addresses where they can find entertainment.  By listing plays and giving the name and address of the theaters where they are being performed, the New Yorker is not performing them.  It is not “transmitting or communicating” them…myVidster doesn’t touch the data stream, which flows directly from one computer to another, neither being owned or operated by myVidster.”

The Flava Works vs myVidster ruling comes at an interesting time.  Earlier this year Kim Dotcom’s Megavideo was shut down and he is in New Zealand on house arrest awaiting a hearing next March and more recently the Richard O’Dwyer case opened the Internet’s eyes to the wild west of copyright online.

O’Dwyer is facing extradition to the United States and up to ten years in prison for linking to places to watch TV and movies online from his website,  A petition started by Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia has collected over 238,000 signatures to stop the extradition of O’Dwyer.  It will be interesting what bearing, if any, Judge Posner’s ruling will have on the O’Dwyer case and similar cases.

Image credit: Evlakhov Valerly via

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.