This Weblog Tools Collection post by Mark Ghosh from earlier this year had me shaking my head.
The short version: YouTube users upload videos and don’t alter privacy settings, so YouTube displays an embed code. Ghosh and his cohorts embed them on one of their sites. Angry YouTube users then email and complain that Ghosh, et al are infringing on their content! Ghosh wondered,
To take this one step further, if you display embed code on your blog or website (think ShareThis), are you implicitly allowing your content (whatever the embed allows direct publish access to) to be republished elsewhere? If you do not allow sharing of your content without permission, are you just displaying certain types of social media tools that prevent wholesale copying of content? I know I personally never factored this into my thought process. Anyone else run into these issues? I wonder what the traditional media with electronic outlets are doing?
Interesting. Personally I would think the person clueless enough not to see the embed code on their own damn video is probably not functionally intelligent enough to retain a lawyer for a lawsuit, so I would just ignore these. But that’s just me.
Fortunately enough, the EFF addressed a related issue back in 2007 in the context of copyright infringement — what if I embed a YouTube video that is ultimately found to be infringing,
Taking a look at the actual code makes one thing obvious: no copy of the YouTube video is being stored on your server (only the HTML code for the embed). The video stays on, and is streamed from, YouTube’s servers.
That makes the embedded YouTube video essentially indistinguishable from the in-line image links that are used all over the Web, including in Google’s Image Search. In the recent Perfect 10 v. Amazon ruling, the Ninth Circuit made it very clear that where in-line links are concerned, there is absolutely no direct copyright infringement liability. So, for purposes of direct infringement, the answer to one question will generally resolve the issue: where is the copy hosted?
On the other hand, I can imagine a number of cases where I would want not want my YouTube video embedded. One can imagine, for example, a porn splog that embedded a popular video simply to throw up ads around it. Maybe those already exist and I’m behind the curve, but regardless those sort of sites would seem to violate other parts of YouTube’s TOS.