A top German court has ruled that embedding copyrighted Internet videos on other websites is legal, but warns the practice could violate European laws. The final decision has been passed on to the EU's highest court.
Embedding foreign videos does not violate German law, the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe ruled Tuesday. A final decision regarding the EU as a whole will be made by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg
A website can display a video hosted by another outlet. Internet users can then watch that video without leaving the website, meaning it can be difficult to know whether the video is the property of a third party.
That is the argument BestWater International presented to the Karlsruhe court. The company, based in Brandenburg, sells filtration and purification systems for drinking water. They created a video titled "Die Realität" or "The Reality" – a two-minute film explaining water pollution. The video was anonymously uploaded to the popular internet video website YouTube without BestWater's permission.
Two competing companies hosted the video on their own websites and used it as a way to compel customers to purchase filtration systems. BestWater argued that embedding the video was a violation of the film's rights.
The German court, however, ruled that embedding the video was legal. In their argument, they said that embedding videos on another website is permissible if the content has been "made publicly available."
Because the practice could still violate EU copyright laws, Karslruhe left the final decision to the EU's Luxembourg court.
"We obviously hope that the [European Court of Justice] follows our same opinion," said the presiding judge, Joachim Bornkamm.
dr/hc (Reuters, dpa)