Tweets: whose words are they, anyway?
Posted March 10, 2011on:
Twitter users are accustomed to freely quoting other’s tweets (particularly when re-tweeting). But where does the law lie on tweets being published in a book?
Extanz document the case of the US travel site zipsetgo, where tweeters became angry when they realised their tweets were to be used in this way.
Apparently this is a grey area where legality is yet to be shaped… it is a question of the book as aggregator – should authors be able to profit from collecting other’s words together? How different is this from Google making money from advertising around collecting words from multiple sites?
All creative expressions are a collection of others’ work in some way; books quoting others without permission is common practice: unauthorised biographies, for example, rely on doing this.
But should there be new laws for publicly accessible social media commentary hitting print? I’d say no – but, as ZipSetGo found out, whether or not it’s legal, community norms may mean developing such compilations without member buy-in is, commercially, a very bad idea.