In a landmark case, which has been closely watched by Google, Facebook among other internet titans, the Seventh Circuit today vacated a preliminary injunction against website operator myVidster in the case, Flava Works, Inc. v. Marques Rondale Gunter d/b/a myVidster.com, and overturned the lower court’s ruling that assigned strict liability for copyright infringement to anyone creating a link on the Internet to something that is an unauthorized copy. Flava Works, an adult entertainment company, has accused myVidster of contributory copyright infringement in connection with the operation of its social media bookmarking website, myVidster.com, which allows users to create and share links to videos located at various places around the Internet.
The Seventh Circuit agreed with Neal Gerber & Eisenberg’s Kevin C. May, who argued before the panel, that myVidster’s users, who merely create links to videos located on the servers of other websites, are not infringers, and thus myVidster is not contributing to an infringement. This is consistent with the Ninth Circuit’s 2007 ruling in Perfect 10 v. Amazon.com, Inc., in which it was held that strict liability for direct copyright infringement could only be assigned to the host of the unauthorized content and not to one who merely provides a link to that content.
“We are thrilled with the Seventh Circuit’s decision. It is an important step in making clear that the creation and hosting of links is not, as a matter of law, direct copyright infringement,” explains William J. Lenz, Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP (Chicago), who represents myVidster.com. “This decision has undone a ruling that could potentially have been quite damaging for search engines, social media sites and other websites that link to material hosted elsewhere; not to mention the millions of individual Internet users who create links to content on the Internet every day.”
“Facebook, Google and others are breathing a sigh of relief today. While this case involves two relatively smaller entities, the ruling has significant impact and wide-reaching consequences,” adds Gregory J. Leighton, another Neal Gerber & Eisenberg LLP attorney working on the case. “If we had not prevailed in this case, it would have placed a huge burden on sites like Google and Facebook to effectively manage the millions of links channeled through their sites daily.”