Judge rejects AFP’s claim to Morel’s Haiti Twitpic photos


 

“[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)

You may remember Daniel Morel’s copyright fight with Agence France-Presse over photos Morel posted to Twitpic in the early hours of Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake. AFP claimed they could use and license the photos through explicit permission granted in Twitter and Twitpic’s terms of use. Morel filed lawsuits claiming that he maintained copyright on the images, that AFP knowingly infringed his copyright, and that AFP, in not properly crediting Morel, violated the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Now, a court’s decision on the case may prove beneficial to all content creators in the internet age.

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.


  1. [...] “The Southern District of New York issued an order denying AFP’s request to dismiss photographer Daniel Morel’s copyright claims, rejecting AFP’s argument that uploading pictures to Twitter/Twitpic granted third parties (including AFP) a broad license to exploit this content. The result is not surprising from a legal standpoint, but should allow photographers (and others who upload content into Twitter’s ecosystem) to breathe a sigh of relief.” – source (found via) [...]

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