Embedding A Tweet Can Be A Copyright Infringement: US Federal Judge

| February 19 , 2018 , 16:13 IST

In a unique turn of events, a US Federal Judge has ruled that embedding a tweet can be a copyright infringement. The ruling doesn’t just apply to embedding tweets but to all in-line linking.

A person by the name Justin Goldman took major online publications like Time, Vox, Boston Globe and Breitbart to court under section 106(5) of the US Copyright Act for embedding a tweet that carried an image actually clicked by him.

As per Goldman, he had clicked a picture, which was tweeted by someone else, and that tweet was then embedded in the articles published by these news organisations. Goldman claimed that he never publicly released or licensed the photograph.

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District Judge Katherine B Forrest concluded that the websites violated Goldman’s exclusive display rights when they allowed the embedded tweet to appear on their website. The fact that the image was hosted on Twitter, a third party site did not shield the accused websites, the judge said.

“Each and every defendant itself took active steps to put a process in place that resulted in a transmission of the photos so that they could be visibly shown. Most directly this was accomplished by the act of including the code in the overall design of their webpage; that is, embedding. Properly understood, the steps necessary to embed a Tweet are accomplished by the defendant website; these steps constitute a process. The plain language of the Copyright Act calls for no more,” the judgement reads.