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Twitter Says Your Tweets Belong To You 102

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the learning-from-other's-mistakes dept.
CWmike writes "Twitter has modified its terms of service to state unequivocally that messages posted belong to their authors and not to the company. 'Twitter is allowed to "use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute" your tweets because that's what we do. However, they are your tweets and they belong to you,' wrote Twitter co-founder Biz Stone in a blog post Thursday announcing the modifications. Twitter is still hammering out a set of guidelines for developers on the proper use of the company's API. What do Twitterers think of the TOS changes? Barbara Krasnoff writes, ' Twitter announces new ToS. Tweeters shrug,' noting that some appreciated the company's transparency in contacting its users and pointing out the changes that were being made."
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Twitter Says Your Tweets Belong To You

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  • by chrisj_0 (825246) on Friday September 11, 2009 @05:20PM (#29393851)
    couldn't help myself!
  • CYA move (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmanforever (603829) <jmanforever@nOsPaM.rockroll.org> on Friday September 11, 2009 @05:24PM (#29393869)

    Sounds like Twitter is trying to cover their butts.

    "No officer lawman sir, That is not our terrorist message, and we don't have anything to do with it. All the messages belong to the person who wrote them."

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MBCook (132727)

      That way my immediate thought. It's a nice thing to do (compared to the "we own everything you type" option), but I figured this way simply because they are getting too many contacts from people's lawyers and want to put themselves in a position of lower risk.

      Not that it stops screwballs from suing you. Google has been sued over stuff that has nothing to do with them because their search engine points to pages that say whatever.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by NoYob (1630681)
        I was thinking more along the lines of - teenager gets harassed by others, commits suicide, parents sue deep pockets (twitter)
      • by easyTree (1042254)

        It's your tweet but we can do whatever we like to it, even modify until it's not the same tweet. wtf? Someone has problems understanding ownership.

    • Re:CYA move (Score:5, Informative)

      by NoobixCube (1133473) on Friday September 11, 2009 @05:54PM (#29394117) Journal

      They claim all usual rights of ownership, but foist responsibilities back on the user.

      • by centuren (106470)

        They claim all usual rights of ownership, but foist responsibilities back on the user.

        Twitter has to be able to "use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute" the text in a tweet in order for the service to do anything. You may click "Tweet", but it's Twitter that has to "use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute" for it to actually show up anywhere.

    • by owlnation (858981)

      Sounds like Twitter is trying to cover their butts.

      Yes... especially since this announcement comes a day after Twitter planning to start monetizing the site.

      There was never any point suing Twitter until such day as the site actually made any money (if it ever does).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jurily (900488)

      All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by the Poster. The Rest © 1997-2009 SourceForge, Inc.

    • Thanks for finding the cloud in-between the silver lining. I'm sure you also had a negative response stored away if Twitter did the exact opposite and claimed ownership of every tweet their users make.

    • Re:CYA move (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday September 11, 2009 @07:26PM (#29394729) Homepage

      Sounds like Twitter is trying to cover their butts.

      "No officer lawman sir, That is not our terrorist message, and we don't have anything to do with it. All the messages belong to the person who wrote them."

      They don't need that kind of CYA. None of the places that do claim to own everything you write are held accountable for that kind of thing. They throw in a few disclaimers, and at the end of the day they might be asked to take something down but they aren't going to be prosecuted for having hosted a terrorist message whether their TOS automagically claims ownership or not.

      I think that they just realized that they can basically ask for every relevant right they need in their TOS anyway, so they can earn some cheap good PR with their users just by giving up on their plans to publish "The Poetry of Twitter" without having to pay any of the twit authors.

    • Yes and no. It's how it was and is in the first place. Only through some total mindless retards that have never seen or understood the Internet, is it, that many sites now fear of being sued for the shit that *their users* do (as opposed to them). Which is about as stupid as to sue the company that maintains a road, for the people that get harmed by other people while being on that street.

      But of course, when for once someone gets it, and does it right, someone like you comes along and has to poop out his mi

    • by timeOday (582209)

      "No officer lawman sir, That is not our terrorist message, and we don't have anything to do with it. All the messages belong to the person who wrote them."

      Which is exactly how it should be. Wouldn't you agree?

  • And so... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Nothing of value was not lost.

  • by genner (694963) on Friday September 11, 2009 @05:24PM (#29393875)
    we can do whatever we want with them....
    • by truthsearch (249536) on Friday September 11, 2009 @05:44PM (#29394053) Homepage Journal

      Same as on /. Look down...

      All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by the Poster. The Rest © 1997-2009 SourceForge, Inc.

    • by itsdapead (734413) on Friday September 11, 2009 @05:48PM (#29394081)

      we can do whatever we want with them....

      What alternative do you suggest?

      Option A: don't claim the right to "use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute" tweets. Problem: publishing material on a website involves using, copying, transmitting, displaying, adapting, modifying and distributing it, so they would be infringing copyright and, sooner or later, get sued by some troll (in other news: Twitter operates in countries outside the US which don't have the same "fair use" clauses in their copyright laws).

      Option B: claim ownership of everything. They could do this if they wanted to - nobody forces you to post your 120 character masterwork on Twitter.

      Option C: lock out the public and pay professional twitterers to produce pithy and erudite tweets on a "work for hire" basis. Tempting, but I don't see the business model.

      Your call.

      • by genner (694963) on Friday September 11, 2009 @05:52PM (#29394105)

        we can do whatever we want with them....

        What alternative do you suggest?

        Option A: don't claim the right to "use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute" tweets. Problem: publishing material on a website involves using, copying, transmitting, displaying, adapting, modifying and distributing it, so they would be infringing copyright and, sooner or later, get sued by some troll (in other news: Twitter operates in countries outside the US which don't have the same "fair use" clauses in their copyright laws).

        Option B: claim ownership of everything. They could do this if they wanted to - nobody forces you to post your 120 character masterwork on Twitter.

        Option C: lock out the public and pay professional twitterers to produce pithy and erudite tweets on a "work for hire" basis. Tempting, but I don't see the business model.

        Your call.

        D: Move the server offshore and pirate other people's work.

        • we can do whatever we want with them....

          What alternative do you suggest?

          Option A: don't claim the right to "use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute" tweets. Problem: publishing material on a website involves using, copying, transmitting, displaying, adapting, modifying and distributing it, so they would be infringing copyright and, sooner or later, get sued by some troll (in other news: Twitter operates in countries outside the US which don't have the same "fair use" clauses in their copyright laws).

          Option B: claim ownership of everything. They could do this if they wanted to - nobody forces you to post your 120 character masterwork on Twitter.

          Option C: lock out the public and pay professional twitterers to produce pithy and erudite tweets on a "work for hire" basis. Tempting, but I don't see the business model.

          Your call.

          D: Move the server offshore and pirate other people's work.

          E. Profit!

        • Option E. Close Twitter and forget it ever happened. The world will no more change from this than it would if you were to kick over an anthill in your back yard.

          Really, is this important? Does anyone think that the asinine "hashtagged" @nonsense crapola on twitter is somehow valuable and is worried that someone might infringe upon it? Or is this just drama for the sake of drama?
      • by itsdapead (734413) on Friday September 11, 2009 @05:57PM (#29394151)

        Sorry, missing option D:

        Option D: insist that all Tweets were submitted under a copyleft license. Trouble is, every single tweet would then read:

        This tweet is released under the reallyfree copyleft modified attrribute-alike noncommercial license variant 7b which pe

        Again, maybe an improvement.

    • by timmarhy (659436)
      this was my first thought we well - they don't need to own them, they already have everything they want. in fact all you really own is the liability....
  • Responsibilities (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In most of the countries the transfer of ownership also transfers most of the responsibilities. These changes are preparing to the earlier announced attempts to become profitable soon. The point is to mitigate the risks of legal issues. When money is involved, it is in business sense a lot safer to be an intermediate service provider than owner and producer of the content in question.

  • Cake and eat it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cryogenic Specter (702059) on Friday September 11, 2009 @05:28PM (#29393917)
    Sounds like they get to have their cake and get to eat it too. They get all the benefits of using user generated content any way they want but have none of the liability. Good for them.
    • This has nothing whatsoever to do with liability.

    • by Eil (82413)

      Well, why not? The Twitter service, and anything you do with it, belongs to the people that own the service. They get to call the shots. Anyone who doesn't like it shouldn't use Twitter (or any other service owned by someone else), end of story.

      (And before anyone draws the comparison, this argument wouldn't hold for an ISP because there's only one Internet and it is--or should be--a wholly public resource and remain strictly neutral in regards to the content passed around on any section of it.)

  • If my Tweets do belong to me, then this can be proven in exactly one way. If my Tweets belong to me than I should have the ability at any time to take them all down and they will not be seen again on Twitter unless I retype them all back in -- 140 characters at a time.

    When that happens then I'll say that they've told the truth.

    Until that happens, they don't really belong to me.
    • That's true. There are other sites that use data from tweets too, so maybe they need your permission to do so, or will need to remove content if you claim copyright infringement. Maybe you could get a recommendation for a lawyer from the RIAA...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by amRadioHed (463061)

      Are you implying that you can't do that right now? What's stopping you?

      • by emurphy42 (631808) on Friday September 11, 2009 @05:51PM (#29394095) Homepage
        Specifically, there's a "delete this tweet" option attached to each tweet, and a "delete my account" option under Settings. I haven't tried either one, but surely you can create a second account and do so?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's a square deal as is. You get to keep the copyright for your "work", but you cede the rights necessary for Twitter to disseminate your thoughts. You don't cede them to anyone else, and Twitter can't sue you for reusing your deep thoughts somewhere else.

      The ability to revoke your stuff would indeed be nice. But to say that without it the deal is meaningless is just lame.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by shentino (1139071)

        Why whine? You can't retract your slashdot posts either.

        • Why whine? You can't retract your slashdot posts either.

          Quiet! I'm trying to sell torches and pitchforks, here. Stay out of the iPhone threads, too.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Allow me to introduce you to the delete post button. Or the delete account button. Clearly you do not use Twitter. Why do I bother feeding the trolls...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bertoelcon (1557907)
      Except, once something reaches the internet proper the odds of removing all instances of it drop to near 0.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Except, once something reaches the internet proper the odds of removing all instances of it drop to near 0.

        While this is true, this has nothing to do with Twitter! You could have set your account up as private, in which case it could not be scraped by people without your permission, thus generally fade from the caches of the Interwebs. Turns out its hard to get rid of anything. Shredded paper could be reconstructed. If someone really put their mind to getting your information, they probably could.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bennomatic (691188)

          thus generally fade from the caches of the Interwebs

          All due respect to Vegas, what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet...

      • Which means what? Nobody owns any content they post online?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Korbeau (913903)

      I have all your tweets copied in notepad. I will print them on paper and send them back to you by mail, but first let's play a little game, mister du Keyboard. Mouahahhhahhhahahha *click*.

    • If my Tweets do belong to me, then this can be proven in exactly one way. If my Tweets belong to me than I should have the ability at any time to take them all down and they will not be seen again on Twitter unless I retype them all back in -- 140 characters at a time. When that happens then I'll say that they've told the truth. Until that happens, they don't really belong to me.

      Um.. you do have that ability.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      While as others have pointed out, you can do this, your argument is flawed. Twitter claims that you maintain ownership of your comments, but upon sending them to Twitter grant Twitter very broad rights with respect to using those comments. Unless this agreement restricts those rights by allowing you to demand of Twitter that your comments be removed, then they don't have to. If you don't like that arrangement, you shouldn't send your text to Twitter.

      One of the main consequences of you owning your tweets is

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrsquid0 (1335303)

      When you write a book the content belongs to you, but you do not have the ability to recall and erase every copy of that book in print. Why should it be any different for electronic publishing, such as Twitter?

    • by shentino (1139071)

      You own your tweets

      It's just that by posting them with twitter you grant twitter a license.

  • Hmmmm.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by rickb928 (945187) on Friday September 11, 2009 @06:19PM (#29394299) Homepage Journal

    If you love

    your tweets,

    set them

    free.

    I'll kill

    any

    that get

    to

    me.

    Burma Shave.

  • Forgive my ignorance. They don't host ads, they don't charge subscription fees, they don't sell your information, you don't buy anything from them. Where is the business model with this? All I see is a website giving a free service and not seemingly covering their own costs.
  • Actually I'm impressed. From my experiance most other sites go the route of MS when they did they Hotmail EULA change that said anything you sent through their servers belongs to MS, and if its proprietary then it now belongs to them with all rights going to MS. Theoretically if you sent patent PDFs through hotmail during that time, they would then own the patent.

    Anyway, seeing twitter go the other way and up front say that the tweets belong to the authors is impressive to me.

  • Look at the terms of service for YouTube, Flickr, or Slashdot for instance. Copyright remains with the poster but a license is granted to the service so that it can do its publishing thing.

  • I'm just sad that so many people seem to think public proclamations, however banal, could possibly be "owned"

    "I took a poop today." (c)2009 Digital Vomit

  • They decided to keep only the good and profitable stuff.

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Friday September 11, 2009 @07:58PM (#29394893) Homepage

    The city sewage treatment plant has announced that everybody owns their own flushings.

  • Why does Twitter want to be a dumb pipe? All they do is shuffle 120 characters of text around. All value is added via third parties--the various clients using the API, TwitPic, URL shorteners. They won't add metadata, apparently hacked solutions like free form text that take up the already limited character space are OK. Now they give up ownership to all the content on the platform. Their board is really asleep at the wheel if you ask me. They are TOO open.

    Twitter would make a lot of sense as a free,

  • use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute

    Given that the US copyright code only limits reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, display and transmission (17 USC 106), is there a good reason why "use", "copy", "process", "adapt", "modify" and "publish" are in that list?

    (IIRC, the BSD license has the same list of terms so this question's been bugging me for a while.)

  • ...ummm so twitter has said that you have the rights that you always had.
    Content you produce always belongs to you, but the terms of service do say that they have a world-wide license to do with your produced content as they will. So the only thing they can't do is stop you from distributing it again yourself.

    But they can still publish a book of your tweets and not pay you a cent.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by petrus4 (213815)

      ...ummm so twitter has said that you have the rights that you always had.

      Can we maybe lose the extreme Marxist douchebag vibe that seems so prevalent around here, Slashdot? It's really getting old.

      Companies can't do anything right. If they genuinely do the wrong thing, as with DRM etc, then it is understandable to condemn their actions; but you're condemning Twitter here because they are affirming their users' rights?

      I for one commend Twitter for this. It's radically different from the way a lot of companies behave; i.e., "Use our service and we own your SOUL." Here, they'r

      • by Jessta (666101)

        They are saying it, but not in their terms of service. Thus they are actually misleading users as to their rights.
        Their terms of service are similar in this respect to myspace, and a number of other web 2.0 services they are actually not different at all.

        An ethical provider would limit the license you release your content to them under to only allow them to use the content in ways required to provide you with the service they are offering you. eg.
        "By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through t

  • Finally
  • I can't wait for the courts to have to decide what the legal definition of "fair use" is for an inane 140 character post usually consisting of so many stupid tags/abbreviations it's unreadable to 99% of the population.

    Or maybe Haiku has finally found its niche!

    Quoted Twitter post
    RT @bob On the crapper!
    Lawsuit may ensue.

  • So what? They're covering themselves for when somebody uses them coordinate something illegal, a drug drop spot, a robbery or heaven forbid a terrorist attack. Who cares, Twitters's a fad technology with less usefulness than direct mail...which the irony of to those pushing it can't be lost on... The concept is e-mail via the phone...which is an electronic letter which is....

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