Good News! YouTube Videos Are Not Copyright Infringement!

You might remember when we reported on the MPAA arguing that embedded videos are copyright violations by defining it as taking a glittering Ferrari made out of reasonable arguments, lighting it on fire, and driving it off a cliff.

It seems that we, apparently, are in like mind with one of America’s foremost copyright jurists. Except that, uh, actually he finds the whole thing so confusing he’s literally sent the mess to Congress to straighten out.

No, seriously. The copyright law is so behind the times that it is officially unable to keep up with YouTube. We seem to have an ever so slight legal problem here.

Judge Gerald Posner is not a lightweight, and this is what he ruled in a copyright case involving a site called MyVidster and some gay porn company.

[Posner] argues that when you view an infringing video on a site such as YouTube, no one—not you, not YouTube, and not the guy who uploaded the infringing video—is violating copyright’s reproduction or distribution rights. And since simply viewing an infringing copy of a video isn’t copyright infringement, he says, myVidster can’t be secondarily liable for that infringement.

Viewing an infringing video online may lead to a violation of copyright’s public performance right, Posner goes on, but here the law is murky. The judge called on Congress to help clarify exactly how copyright law should apply in the age of Internet video.

To sum up Posner’s ruling, viewing a pirated video via an embed is the same thing as reading a book in the bookstore. It’s kind of crappy and rude, but it’s not copyright infringement. This is a bit of a setback to the MPAA’s ongoing attempts to destroy the Internet and return us to 2002.

Also, the porn company in the suit is called Flava, and now the words “hopeless for Flava” appear in the annals of United States law. Seriously.

image courtesy cynthia.. on Flickr