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June 2019
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Settlement In Tom Brady Photo Case Leaves Issue Of Copyright On Embedded Images Unsettled

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A little over a year ago, we wrote about a pretty bad ruling in NY, by Judge Katherine Forrest, arguing that merely embedding content on a site -- even though it's hosted elsewhere -- could be deemed infringing. This went against what has been known as the "server test," which says that the issue is where the content is actually hosted (which server it's actually on), and that merely embedding the image shouldn't lead to new claims of infringement. Considering that, technically, embedding an image is no different than linking to an image, saying that embedding an image that is hosted elsewhere is itself infringing could put much of the basic concept of how the internet works at risk.This particular case involved a photo of quarterback Tom Brady that had been posted originally to Snapchat. The image, taken by photographer Justin Goldman, made its way from Snapchat to Reddit to Twitter. Some news organizations embedded tweets showing the photo, using Twitter's native embed functionality. Goldman sued a bunch of them. Judge Forrest, citing the Supreme Court's "looks like a duck" test in the Aereo ruling said that embedding qualifies as displaying a work (even though the websites in question aren't hosting anything other than a pointer telling user's computers to go find that image). Even worse, Forrest explicitly rejected the server test, saying it was wrong.This was poised to be a pretty big deal... except that it's not. Because the entire lawsuit has been settled leaving the question of whether or not the server test is considered valid (especially in NY where the case was filed) unanswered. While there is the Forrest ruling on the books, since it's in a district court it creates no official precedent that other courts need to follow (though that won't stop it from being cited). However, as the linked article notes, there are some other cases challenging the server test and looking at the legality of embeds still going on, so perhaps we won't have to wait long for the issue to bubble up again. One hopes that, this time, a court will accept the basic server test as the only reasonable interpretation of the law.

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Netflix, Which Has Previously Touted Its Ability To Compete With Piracy, Joins Australian Antipiracy Efforts

Furnished content.


We have for some time been covering the rapid expansion of antipiracy and site-blocking efforts in Australia. Between the movie and music spaces, these efforts have been spearheaded by a couple of local entertainment groups, such as Village Roadshow and Music Rights Australia, and the typical suspects from the US, such as the MPAA, RIAA, and various movie and music studios. The ramping up of those efforts continues to date, with recently updated copyright laws being used by those groups to request massive site-blocking for torrent and streaming sites, with the courts generally rubber-stamping all of them.To date, a glaring non-combatant in all of this has been Netflix. And that hasn't been some huge surprise, either, given that Netflix has long had a history of touting its own ability to both compete with piracy and make use of its cultural effects, and the rest of the entertainment industry painting Netflix as some kind of problem for the industry itself. And, while Netflix's tone on piracy has certainly begun to change, that made it somewhat jarring to learn that the company was suddenly diving into the Australia anti-piracy fray with both feet.

Over the past two years, many of the world’s largest torrent and streaming sites have already been blocked, but the work is far from done. A new application recently submitted at the Federal Court of Australia requests ISPs to block dozens of websites.The complaint comes from Village Roadshow as well as several other prominent movie companies such as Disney Enterprises and Universal City Studios. For the first time, Netflix Studios has joined in as well, as Computerworld notes.
As stated, Netflix is now a part of the MPAA, which perhaps explains why it is now in on these enforcement efforts. This appears to be something of a move of solidarity with the industry, as the focus of this particular complaint is pretty heavy on sites accused of distributing Asian content.
Interestingly, the court order has a strong focus on Asian content. Several of the targeted sites, such as BTBTT and 123kubo.org, are predominantly popular in Asian countries. In addition, the list also includes many anime sites such as Animeultima.to and Ryuanime.com.The latter is likely due to the fact that the Australian distribution group Madman Anime Group is listed as one of the applicants as well.
So, again, there's something of a all-for-one and one-for-all flavor to all of this. Still, being a member of the MPAA doesn't require Netflix to join in on these legal efforts at site-blocking. As is typical in these complaints, the torrent and streaming sites are painted as having only one purpose: to commit copyright infringement. On that basis, the complaint seeks the blocking of 86 websites.But the new part of this is Netflix's involvement. Why it suddenly feels the need to join the ranks of those seeking site-blocking is an open question, particularly when it has built a business model out of being more convenient and reasonable an option than piracy itself.

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