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Who own your tweets?

 
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jeannemayeux
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:59 pm    Post subject: Who own your tweets? Reply with quote

Is a tweet copyrightable ? Is a tweet copyrighted by default? Does twitter own your tweets similar to how forums claim copyright ownership?
Can your tweets be republished under the fair use doctrine? And...
If you repost a link, a quote or someone else's tweet are you infringing? Has any of this been tested in a court of law.

What about Facebook. Do you own your status update ? Is it a private communications between you and friends, or is a published work ? If a newspaper or website wants to publish your status update, do they need permission first?

BTW: I am writing a book on Internet copyright law. Any relevant answers may be included in my book with credit given of course. I will contact you for permission before publishing.
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I hope that as part of writing your book you are prepared to do most of the research yourself, rather than relying on others to do the legwork! It took me about 45 seconds to find this in the Twitter Terms:
"Your Rights
You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

Tip This license is you authorizing us to make your Tweets available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same. But what’s yours is yours – you own your content.

You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use
."

Pretty clear I would say. Also, most forums I am aware of do not claim the copyright in what individuals post, just copyright in the overall structure of the site, and of course they will have certain terms concerning how the material you post may be stored and further published by them.
In summary you generally own the copyright in any literary work you create in what ever medium, although realistically what you write can only be distinguished from what others write if it is sufficiently 'original'. In other words if you post a status that says "i'm cold today" you will have a very had time proving when others post the same words that they have copied your words, and not independently arrived at the same statement. Just a few words are generally not treated as copyrightable for this reason. If you want evidence of this, try this:
compose a relatively straight forward sentence of about 10 words and putting it within quote matks, use Google to search for other examples. I have done so using the phrase " you generally own the copyright in any literary work you create" which I wrote towards the beginning of this paragraph, and Google has turned up quite a few close matches. Did they copy me - no of ccourse not as I only just wrote the words, but did I copy them? Well, no, I didn't because this is a fairly well known concept which can only be expressed in a relatively small number of variations of the same basic word pattern. Because the maximum length of a tweat is limited to 140 charactrers and of course not every tweat will be that long, a great many tweats will fall into the category of being similar but it will be virtually impossible to prove that one has been copied and so infringe the copyright of another tweeter.
It is worth bearing in mind the purpose of copyright, which is to allow an author to control the further use of the result of his artistic or literary labour. If you have already published your considered thoughts on a subject via Twitter for no payment to the the entire population of Twitter, you have pretty much exhausted the exclusivity which once might have attached to your remarks. Clearly, as with some newspaper columnists, a compilation of your best writings may have some further life as it might allow an interested reader to study a wide range of your insights all in one place. As for quoting the tweats of others, much the same realities apply. If you wish to make it clear that you are quoting someone else, then the fair dealing rules allow you morre freedom so long as you give the original author the credit.
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jeannemayeux
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:19 pm    Post subject: Further Question on Reusing Content from Twitter, FB, forums Reply with quote

I had the TOS from twitter I just wanted to get a conversation going on this. I don't think the law is clear cut on this and I wanted to know if it has been tested in a court of law. And many forums do claim copyright ownership to posts. At least they used to has this changed recently? As a matter of fact this forum has a thread on forum copyright that says exactly that. Any further input would be greatly appreciated.

Scenario:
Lets say I post (in a Tweet, forum or Facebook) that I like a new drug for cancer treatment and the drug company reposts giving me credit in the form of advertising/testimonial for this new drug. My sees it and demotes me to part time because she thinks I can no longer work full-time due to the cancer. This has caused harm to my reputation. Isn't reusing without permission copyright infringement -technically.
Thanks


AndyJ wrote:
Well I hope that as part of writing your book you are prepared to do most of the research yourself, rather than relying on others to do the legwork! It took me about 45 seconds to find this in the Twitter Terms:
"Your Rights
You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

Tip This license is you authorizing us to make your Tweets available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same. But what’s yours is yours – you own your content.

You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter for the syndication, broadcast, distribution or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use
."

Pretty clear I would say. Also, most forums I am aware of do not claim the copyright in what individuals post, just copyright in the overall structure of the site, and of course they will have certain terms concerning how the material you post may be stored and further published by them.
In summary you generally own the copyright in any literary work you create in what ever medium, although realistically what you write can only be distinguished from what others write if it is sufficiently 'original'. In other words if you post a status that says "i'm cold today" you will have a very had time proving when others post the same words that they have copied your words, and not independently arrived at the same statement. Just a few words are generally not treated as copyrightable for this reason. If you want evidence of this, try this:
compose a relatively straight forward sentence of about 10 words and putting it within quote matks, use Google to search for other examples. I have done so using the phrase " you generally own the copyright in any literary work you create" which I wrote towards the beginning of this paragraph, and Google has turned up quite a few close matches. Did they copy me - no of ccourse not as I only just wrote the words, but did I copy them? Well, no, I didn't because this is a fairly well known concept which can only be expressed in a relatively small number of variations of the same basic word pattern. Because the maximum length of a tweat is limited to 140 charactrers and of course not every tweat will be that long, a great many tweats will fall into the category of being similar but it will be virtually impossible to prove that one has been copied and so infringe the copyright of another tweeter.
It is worth bearing in mind the purpose of copyright, which is to allow an author to control the further use of the result of his artistic or literary labour. If you have already published your considered thoughts on a subject via Twitter for no payment to the the entire population of Twitter, you have pretty much exhausted the exclusivity which once might have attached to your remarks. Clearly, as with some newspaper columnists, a compilation of your best writings may have some further life as it might allow an interested reader to study a wide range of your insights all in one place. As for quoting the tweats of others, much the same realities apply. If you wish to make it clear that you are quoting someone else, then the fair dealing rules allow you morre freedom so long as you give the original author the credit.

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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jeanne,
I'm not sure how you have reached the conclusions you have about the law being unclear or that this forum's terms and conditions claim copyright. Here is what it says under Legal Notices on the home page:
"The copyright belongs to Copyright Aid and other contributing authors."
As for your example I fail to see where the subsrantive copyright issue arises. In both UK and US law there is provision to quote other people under the fair dealing rules. As a matter of policy I do not think any reputable company would use an attributed quote to endorse a product without first obtaining the permission of the person concerned, but leaving that aside for the moment, the scenario you are describing is more about defamation (and possibly employment law) than copyright infringement. Since US law differs from the UK on that particular subject, I do not propose to follow up on that. A similar situation arises over a picture of you (say one taken on the street without your knowledge) which might be used, anonymously and without a model release, in an advert for a product or service with which you would not want to be associated. This has nothing to do with copyright, but everything to do with the law on privacy. The law in many states and at the federal level in the US is much stronger in terms of protecting the individual in this sort of situation than is the case in the UK.
As you are based in the US, you may find it better to try some the many excellent US sites dealing with this subjectt, such as
http://fairuse.stanford.edu/
http://williampatry.blogspot.com/
http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/643164
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