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Friday, 17 May 2013

Framing of videos: Court of Justice to rule

Merpel sniffs the water for
signs of pollution*
Yesterday the First Civil Senate of the German Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) -- one of the most active and influential national intellectual property courts you can ever hope to find in the new Europe -- referred a question regarding the framing of video content to the Court of Justice of the European Union. What the BGH wants to know is this: does the operator of a website who integrates copyright-protected third party video content, which is publicly available via another website, into his own website by way of so-called framing, infringe copyright of that content in the sense of Article 3(1) of the InfoSoc Directive?

What happened in this case was that the plaintiff in the national proceedings, who made and sold water filtration system, created a promotional video ("The Reality") on the topic of water pollution and owned the copyright in the video. This video was also available on YouTube, without the applicant’s consent. The two defendants, independent sales representatives of a competitor, each ran websites on which they advertised their products. In summer 2010, they let visitors to their websites retrieve the plaintiff's video by framing it: consumers could click on to a link that retrieved the video in question, which was then played from YouTube.

The plaintiff considers that the defendants made its video publicly available in the sense of Article 19a of the German Copyright Act and, alleging infringement, demanded damages. The trial court agreed and ordered the defendants to pay damages of €1,000), but this decision was reversed on appeal. The plaintiff then appealed to the BGH, seeking restoration of the trial court's judgment.

According to the BGH's press release, the BGH states that the appellate court had correctly assumed that the mere linking of content available on a third part website by way of framing is not a “making publicly accessible” within the meaning of Article 19a of the German Copyright Act, since it is the owner the third party website who decides whether the content remains accessible to the public. However, the BGH wondered whether this type of framing could fall under Article 3(1) of the InfoSoc Directive and therefore also under Article 15(2) of the German Copyright Act (which provides for an “unnamed exploitation right"), which must itself be interpreted and applied in the light of Article 3(1) of the Copyright Directive. The BGH therefore asks the CJEU whether this type of framing is a “making available to the public” in the sense of Article 3(1) of the InfoSoc Directive which states: 

“Right of communication to the public of works and right of making available to the public other subject-matter: 
1. Member States shall provide authors with the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit any communication to the public of their works, by wire or wireless means, including the making available to the public of their works in such a way that members of the public may access them from a place and at a time individually chosen by them”.
Decision of 16 May 2013 - reference I ZR 46/12

Further reading: here

* Photo by Magnus Manske

1 comment:

IP Dragon said...

Technology creates legal problems, but it can also prevent some legal conflicts: The undertaking making and selling water filtration systems could prevent that their YouTube video will be framed by removing the "embedded" feature. If people still embed it, the video will give the message: "This video is only watchable on YouTube, click here to watch it on YouTube." This excludes, however, also the possibility to embed the YouTube video on the site of the water filtration system company.

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