New York federal judge rules news outlets violated copyright by embedding a tweet
Embeddings tweets may soon come with some risksBy Cohen Coberly 15 comments
Embedding tweets, videos and images on one's blog or website is a pretty common practice. However, if a recent New York federal court ruling is any indication, that seemingly harmless act may land you in quite a bit of trouble in the future.
The ruling in question came after several, several news websites – including Time, Yahoo, Vox and Breitbart – embedded a tweet containing a photo of NFL player Tom Brady.
The photographer responsible for capturing the photo, Justin Goldman, accused the news outlets of violating his exclusive copyright, an assertion the judge presiding over the case has since agreed with:
"[W]hen defendants caused the embedded Tweets to appear on their websites, their actions violated plaintiff's exclusive display right; the fact that the image was hosted on a server owned and operated by an unrelated third party (Twitter) does not shield them from this result."
In a statement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called the ruling a "[Rejection of] years of settled precedent," noting that it could easily extend far beyond mere tweet embedding to the realm of "all in-line linking." The Foundation also said this ruling, if it was adopted by other courts, could "threaten millions of ordinary Internet users with infringement liability."
Strangely, Judge Forrest repeatedly refers to the process of embedding as "the act of a coder."
In her ruling, she also implies hundreds of thousands of users who utilize the process have an understanding of programming languages such as HTML.
Unusual wording aside, this ruling is certainly a concerning development for news outlets and blogs alike. As the EFF said in their statement, however, it's possible this ruling could be appealed and ultimately overturned at a later date. For the time being, it may be best to avoid embedding tweets on your website or blog if at all possible.