Infringement isn't the issue. Anyway, the "line" that most people care about is, “Will I get in trouble for doing this?” -- that is, "Will I get involved in a legal confrontation, typically a lawsuit or the threat of a lawsuit, or some other legal mechanism such as shutting down an account?" In that way infringing is a different issue from getting hassled, much like littering is different than being fined for littering. There are three common ways that a curator/aggregator could get hassled:
- It's business. You are a suitable commercial target, taking content from another established business – a business to business dispute. For example, that's what happened when the AP sued Meltwater.
- It's easy. You are an individual or business and you are an easy target for a business – for example, it’s quite simple for Getty Images to determine if someone has infringed one of its photos and to demand a licensing fee from them (see our previous blog entry). Ditto for lawsuits brought by the RIAA or by copyright trolls.
- It's the principle. Third, you’re an individual or business and a copyright or trademark owner just feels strongly about your use and wants to stop it – for example, you're using their photo in a manner they consider offensive.
Therefore, unless you are competing in business, easy to locate, or your use bothers a principled copyright owner, you're likely to get away with your curation regardless of whether it is an infringement.