Embedding Image Links Now Copyright Infringement?

Infringing Image? - Credit kconnors@morguefile.com

Credit kconnors@morguefile.com

In this internet age, a court decision has called into question a relatively common method of referencing other articles or images.

Until this new court case, internet publishers and bloggers have relied on a case, Perfect 10, Inc. v. Amazon.com Inc. (“Perfect 10”), which created a bright line test to determine when the reuse of an image from another website was considered copyright infringement.

The test in Perfect 10 centered on whether a website re-using another website’s image in an article either: (i) supplied the image to a reader’s browser from its own server (i.e., infringing); or (ii) simply embedded a link to the image so the image would be obtained from the original source website (i.e., non-infringing).

A new case, Goldman v. Breitbart News Network, LLC (“Goldman”), in the Southern District of New York in February 2018 calls into question this distinction.

In the Goldman case,  the court held that a website displaying an image whether from its own server or via an embedded link from the original source would be considered an infringement.

This new case may prompt additional copyright infringement suits before the question is settled.  Until then, a website relying on the Perfect 10 bright line test of embedding a link to an image does so at its own peril.

As an active website content generator, in most cases, I personally don’t object to other websites referencing and embedding my content as long as the material is clearly attributed to me.

Only rarely does the re-use of my content cross the line where there’s no proper attribution.

To read more about this issue, please click here, to go to a background article on Technology Law Dispatch.