Doobie Brother Sics Lawyer On YouTube Embedder

    July 5, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

You can get in trouble for embedding someone else’s wife, but embedding someone else’s YouTube upload? (Waiting for the rim shot. Jerks. I get no respect).

A cease and desist letter sent by Doobie Brother Michael McDonald’s attorney signals that just embedding HTML code of copyright-infringing YouTube videos on a website or blog could make you a target for zealous lawyers.

Though Ronald Lewis didn’t actually upload the videos in question, he did embed the HTML so that the videos would play on his website. One could argue that makes his site a host for copyright-infringing material, even if YouTube is technically the host.

It is, after all, a sort of distribution, not to aid the lawyer sending the C&D’s to Lewis, who actually accused Lewis of uploading the video onto YouTube himself.

In his blog post, Lewis seems rather defiant (maybe even a little melodramatic) painting himself as one who is bullied by legal gadflies. And he is being bullied, but the bright side is that it’s just a C&D, and he can avoid legal action by removing the videos in question.

The issue here isn’t, though, about how much attention the offended lawyer is paying to the details of the matter before he fires off nasty-grams, or even if Lewis is overly-righteous in his reaction.

The bigger issue is that this is the first many have heard of where a blogger has been threatened for embedding YouTube code. As TechDirt’s Michael Masnick rightly (I think) predicts, this may be just the beginning:

But, honestly, the much more interesting (and rarely discussed) question concerns the liability of those who embed infringing videos. My guess is that it won’t be long before we start seeing a lot more threats and lawsuits over embedded videos from bloggers who have no idea they’re putting themselves at risk simply for putting a line of code into a blog post.