EU Court of Justice ruling on the embedding of 3rd party material in web sites
31. oktober 2014

The EU Court of Justice has made a policy ruling on the embedding of other proprietors' copyrighted materials in web sites.

The specific case concerned a German producer of water filters, who had produced a 2-minute video about water pollution. The video was openly accessible on Youtube. A local competitor embedded a link to the Youtube video in a frame on his own web site. That way, visitors to the competitor's home page could view the video from there, without it becoming apparent to them that the video was in fact being relayed from a Youtube site. The impression to the visitor may well have been that the video was stored on the competitor's web site and that the rights to the video belonged to the competitor.

The manufacturer of water filters was not happy to find his intellectual property on the competitor's web site. The case has now progressed to the  3rd court instance in Germany (Bundesgerichtshof). This instance put the case on hold while asking the EU Court of Justice to make a policy ruling regarding embedding techniques. On the one hand, the video was neither copied or tampered with in the current case, but on the other hand, it was shown in a context that may well have given the impression that the copyright to the work belonged to the competitor. The question was whether such framing or embedding techniques are in conformance with EU legislation.

In a decicion dated 21 October 2014, the EU Court of Justice stated that such embedding can be in conformance with EU legislation if two criteria are met. Firstly, the content of the video may not have been copied or tampered with and may not be displayed in some other way than the author intended, and secondly, the embedding may not lead to the video being shown to a larger audience than was already the case.

In the current case, the video had not been copied or tampered with. There only existed a link to the original video. Since the video was already available on Youtube, it was available to the wide public, and therefore, the EU Court of Justice was of the opinion that the embedding did not lead to any illegal enlargement of the group of viewers. For these reasons, the EU Court of Justice concluded that the embedding on the competitor's web site was legal in the EU.

Conclusion as far as EU legislation goes: If you are going to post a video on the internet and are concerned that there should be no misunderstanding around who owns the copyright to the video, you need to make a copyright statement *in* the video, and not just in a text close to it on your own website. This can be accomplished with a copyright statement in the beginning or the end of the video, or alternatively also for example by blending in the text
"© [YourName]" in a corner throughout the picture sequence.

(decision C-348/13 of the EU Court of Justice)

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