Publishing links and copyright infringement

February 20, 2018

Last year, I wrote about a lawsuit by Playboy against Happy Mutants, LLC, who operates the Boingo Boingo website.  Playboy Entertainment Group, Inc. v. Happy Mutants, LLC, Case 2:17-cv-08140 (C.D. Ca. 2017).  Playboy asserted that the publication of an article containing two links to Playboy's copyrighted materials constituted direct and/or vicarious copyright infringement (see link to First Amended Complaint, stored on


On February 14th, Playboy's lawsuit was dismissed with leave to file a Second Amended Complaint by February 26, 2018, provided that Playboy could address the issues raised by Happy Mutants in its motion to dismiss (see link to Order, stored on  I checked the docket on March 6th and Playboy did not file a Second Amended Complaint


Also interesting, from a timing perspective, is that two days later, a judge in the Southern District of New York found that embedding or in-line linking of content -- such that the content appears as part of the website -- would constitute copyright infringement. See link to blog post. The key difference between these cases is that the SDNY judge found contrary to 9th Circuit precedent that embedding copyrighted content -- even though it is not hosted on the referring website -- constitutes publication in violation of the copyright holder's rights.


Updated on 3/6/18


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