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Federal judge rules that embedded tweets can infringe on copyright

Federal judge rules that embedded tweets can infringe on copyright
[Photo: Jonathunder/Wikimedia Commons]

A federal judge has ruled that a person or company can infringe copyright by including an embedded tweet in their post. This is an especially alarming decision, as it goes against over a decade of legal precedent that put the liability on the host of the content, not the person that links to it.

This case, writes the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, involved a tweet that included a picture of Tom Brady. The picture’s photographer, Justin Goldman, sued a slew of online publications–including Breitbart, Yahoo, and the Boston Globe–claiming they infringed his copyright by embedding the tweet containing the photograph. The judge ruled in his favor, rejecting an earlier decision from 2007.

This, says the E.F.F., could have serious ramifications down the line. The judge’s ruling didn’t just involve tweets, and could be interpreted to include any sort of linking. With that, “it would threaten the ubiquitous practice of in-line linking that benefits millions of Internet users every day.”

Playboy has also been pursuing similar legal action against Boing Boing. The magazine claimed the blog infringed its copyright by linking to its centerfolds. This case, however, was thrown out.

The digital rights organizations says that an appeal could be on the horizon for the Goldman case. “We hope that today’s ruling does not stand,” the blog post writes. You can read the full analysis from E.F.F. here.

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