Ye Olde Grey Area

There was one particularly interesting topic that came out of week three’s symposium: the grey area of ’embedding’ in regards to copyright.

To my understanding, to embed something on a blog is to use the html code for a photo, video, tweet or song and post it so that it shows up, not just as a link to the host page but as a ‘playable’ or visible link that streams straight from the host website (see my blog posts ‘If I was ever going to film a sci fi…’ and ‘The Zen’s at work’ for example).

Adrian Miles discussed the idea that because ‘container’ websites like YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr etc. actually have buttons that seem to encourage embedding (anyone can gain access to the codes at free will), it is then legal to embed other people’s work on your blog. This idea stems from the fact that if the original creator is publishing their work on these sites then they should apparently be aware that this is a function of the host container.

But then how is embedding different from someone simply ‘screen-shotting’ or copying and pasting another person’s work into their own blog posts? (because that is definitely breaching the copyright laws…)

Well, from what I can gather, embedding still enables the publisher to have ultimate control over their work. The person who blogs their work cannot alter it in any way. For instance, if I was to embed someone else’s song that they had posted onto SoundCloud I could not edit the music, nor could I change the settings they had enlisted on SoundCloud (e.g. I could not make the track ‘downloadable’ if the original poster had not already made it available). In addition, the publisher is still recognised as the original creator in some way, as embedding enables a link back to the original webpage. In contrast, when someone uploads another’s work onto their blog (not by embedding), they will generally not create a link back to the host page, nor provide accreditation.

I sincerely hope embedding does not become ‘illegal’ in the future. I think embedding is much like ‘sharing’ on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr and thus allows the online community to become even more interconnected.

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