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US judge: embedding copyright-infringing videos not illegal

A US Court of Appeals ruled last week that it is not against the law to embed copyright-infringing video.

The ruling stems from a case between video-bookmarking site myVidster and adult video production company Flava Works. Two years ago, Flava Works sued myVidster in an effort to stop users from posting its content without permission.

In July 2011, the court granted a preliminary injunction against myVidster, arguing that the site's owner, Marquest Gunter, had sufficient knowledge of the infringement.

Judge Richard Posner threw out that decision out last Thursday..

The judge argued that myVidster simply gives Internet users web addresses where they can find entertainment content.

"By listing plays and giving the name and address of the theaters where they are being performed, the New Yorker is not performing them," Posner said in the court decision. "It is not 'transmitting or communicating' them."

The judge pointed out that Flava's pirated videos are not sold, nor is there evidence to prove that they are being accessed via myVidster.

MyVidster isn't completely off the hook, though.

The site is not just adding a frame around the video screen, Posner said, adding that, like a phone line connecting two people, myVidster provides a connection between the host server and the visitor.

But, as long as the video user does not duplicate the copyrighted material, there is no actual violation of the owner's exclusive right.

A viewer's use of myVidster to bypass Flava Works's paywall is what the judge called the equivalent of stealing a copyrighted book from a bookstore and reading it.

"That is a bad thing to do (in either case)," he said, "but it is not copyright infringement."