“[B]y their express language, Twitter’s terms grant a license to use content only to Twitter and its partners. Similarly, Twitpic’s terms grant a license to use photographs only to Twitpic.com or affiliated sites. . . . the provision that Twitter ‘encourage[s] and permit[s] broad re-use of Content’ does not clearly confer a right on others to re-use copyrighted postings” –Agence France Presse v. Morel, 10 Civ. 2730 (WHP) (S.D.N.Y.; Dec. 23, 2010)
A judge has ruled that Twitter and Twitpic’s licensing terms do not extend to third parties, that Morel has a valid copyright infringement claim, and that any information identifying the copyright holder (so-called “copyright management information”) must be distributed alongside copyrighted material. All three of these rulings are a boon to photographers and other content creators and should have influence well outside the bounds of Twitter and Twitpic. Eric Goldman’s blog has the best analysis of the ruling that I’ve found, though the New York Observer’s “Hands of my blizzard Twitpics” gets an honorable mention. The court’s full ruling is available here.