If you embed a video from YouTube or other sources and that file is found to contain material that violates copyright law, you could be liable for infringing.

At least that’s according to an article on the Blog Herald.

According to intellectual property attorney Denise Howell, the author of Lawgarithms and the host of This Week in Law, the problem with embedding infringing YouTube clips is fairly straightforward.

“Any time you incorporate a copyrighted work into a site without the rightsholders’ consent, you’re potentially liable,” said Howell, “It doesn’t matter where it’s hosted.”

In short, since your site or blog is gaining benefit from another’s copyrighted material without permission, you can be held liable for it. It does not matter if the content is hosted elsewhere, posted by someone else.

Worse still, according to Howell, it does not matter if the person doing the embedding was aware of the infringement.”Innocent or ignorant infringement is just as actionable as the intentional variety,” said Howell.

Scary stuff, right?

Well, not so much according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Well, the news really isn’t that dire. In fact, I’d say bloggers are generally pretty safe on this score, at least until someone notifies them that an embedded video is infringing.

First, it’s important to understand what an embedded YouTube video is — it’s a link. Just a link. Nothing but a link.

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.

Both articles offer advice for bloggers who want to embed video from other sources, the best and most obvious of which is not to use materials that are clearly in violation of copyright.

However, the bottom line in all this is that intellectual property lawyers are pretty trigger happy people these days.

To avoid official contact with them, heed the advice of Phil Esterhaus: “Let’s be careful out there”.

copyright, fair use, blogging