Good news for Europeans: embedding YouTube videos is legal after all

Go ahead, embed that YouTube video on your blog: Doing so doesn’t violate copyright laws, the European Court of Justice ruled this week, according to a report. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit initiated by BestWater, a German water filter producer that wanted to prevent one of its competitors from embedding a BestWater video ad on its website.

BestWater had already succeeded in getting the video removed, but also wanted the competitor to pay a fine — something that’s common in cases of copyright infringement in Germany. The other party declined to pay up, and the case made its way through the courts in Germany, all the way up to Europe’s highest court.

The issue in question was whether merely embedding a video published by someone else constitutes a public performance, which would need to be licensed by the copyright holder. The European Court has now said no, as long as the embedding doesn’t make the video available to new audiences. The water filter ad in question had already been available to the entire internet on YouTube, so merely embedding it didn’t make it available to audiences that previously didn’t have access — but one could imagine that the justices may have felt differently about a pirate video site embedding a video that wasn’t publicly listed anywhere else before.