What is Copyright on a Computer?

Drawing the Digital Line: Why Social Bookmarking is not Copyright Infringement  February 6, 2013 – 09:00 am
this type of content over

Social bookmarking websites provide users that have similar interests with a dumping ground to share the web addresses of third-party websites that provide free access to, inter alia, copyrighted content. Bookmarking sites do not host any content on their own servers, however, but merely function as a gateway to where material, sometimes copyrighted, can be found on the Web.

Flava Works, a gay porn production company, sued myVidster, a social video bookmarking website, after discovering that myVidster users were sharing websites that host illegal copies of its copyrighted videos, thereby bypassing Flava’s pay wall and allegedly reducing their income by about $100, 000.[1] During trial, the district judge granted a preliminary injunction in favor of Flava Works after finding that myVidster’s social bookmarking operation made them an infinger’s accomplice.[2]

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the preliminary injunction because it held that myVidster merely provided information and that, without more, this was not evidence of direct or contributory infringement.[3] Firstly, the Copyright Act makes it unlawful to “perform . . . transmit or otherwise communicate a performance of the [copyrighted] work . . . to the public. . . .”[4] On appeal, Judge Posner compared the role of myVidster to a newspaper, stating that, “By listing plays and giving the name and address of the theaters where they are being performed, the New Yorker is not performing them. It is not ‘transmitting or communicating’ them.”[5] Similarly, myVidster, like the New Yorker, is merely disseminating the name and address of websites that host, inter alia, Flava’s videos. Accordingly, because myVidster is not actually transmitting, performing, or communicating Flava’s videos on its website, its operation did not amount to direct infringement.

Source: Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal

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