European Court: Embedding copyrighted material is allowed

The European Court has ruled that embedding content does not constitute a copyright infringement if the rightholder himself already freely distributes the content on the internet. The ruling comes after previously allowing links to copyrighted material.

This is reported by TorrentFreak, which received documents containing the judge’s verdict. The Court has yet to publish the ruling itself. According to the German court that heard the case, embedding is allowed if the content is already freely distributed on the internet by the rightholder himself. Also, individuals cannot be held responsible if they embed anything from a source that infringes copyright. The pronunciation is important for content embedding websites, such as radio stations and video websites.

The lawsuit was filed by the company Bestwater, which filed a lawsuit against two men who posted promotional videos of the company on a competitor’s website by embedding them from YouTube. According to Bestwater, this is a violation of its copyright, but the judge does not agree. The Court ruled that embedding does not constitute ‘new communication’ because the videos had already been made freely available via YouTube. As long as the message is not modified or ‘communicated to a new audience’.

The Court previously ruled that linking to copyrighted material is permitted. The essence of the ruling is that websites may link to material if it had already been placed on the internet with the permission of the rightholder. This judgment provided guidance for the Court to allow embedding as well.