Can you get in trouble for retweeting a photo?
Twitter’s latest update allows users to embed photos, videos, and article summaries. While these are additional conveniences for tweeters, the question arises regarding attribution and copyright.
A court in the Southern District of New York ruled that the Washington Post and Agency France-Presse (AFP) nfringed on a photographers photos by retweeting his photo for a commercial use. However, the photographer’s damages claim were limited.
Reuters reports that the judge ruled that while Twitter’s terms of service allows for republishing and rebroadcasting of user’s images in certain circumstances there is no license for a commercial use.
In this particular case, a photographer covering the Haiti earthquake tweeted his photos. They were picked up by the Post and AFP and the photographer subsequently sued the companies.
The case provides some guidance on the ownership in social media. While many of us retweet and reblog with impunity, companies must think twice if its done for a commercial use. If you are a photographer or someone that posts original works, the case is informative as it lets you know that you have rights and means to protect yourself in social media.
If you are interested on learning more please contact a social media lawyer.