The recent fracas between Twitter character Mr. Aye Dee
(real name Mukhtar Alexander Dan’Iyan) and Linda Ikeji, the popular news blog
owner, raises important questions about Intellectual property rights in the
rapidly changing and expanding internet globosphere.
In the embarrassment that gained a considerable amount of
traction, Mr. Aye Dee had claimed that his Intellectual Property (IP) rights
were infringed and that, attributing credit to him without prior seeking
permission to post items from his Time Line (TL) was an infringement of his
Mr. Aye Dee’s words: “People still don’t get it, this Linda
issue is not about credit, it is about seeking permission before usage. Plain and
The above position is serious and deserves some bit of
Firstly, we should know that in cases of actual IP content
use, fair use laws
may permit the publication for “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching,
scholarship, and research.” It is never black and white as suggested and each
case if challenged will be subject to a unique court review and judgment.
Facebook and Twitter are public spaces; like market places.
In regards to these two platforms – the largest public places in the world –
the rules differ slightly but are largely similar. Firstly, for both spaces,
what you publish on them becomes their property right as much as it remains
yours. This compares to your blog where all you post is owned by you and is
your right to control the sharing of; and defend. See: Telegraph – “Facebook
terms and conditions: why you don't own your online life.” Technically, you
are a writer on FaceBook/Twitter’s “blog,” they can do what they like with what
you post on them, now and even if/after you close your account and delete your
content for a “reasonable” period after, as twitter phrases it.
FaceBook IP and Copyright
In regards to FaceBook, what you post up on your wall
becomes the “Copyright IP” of FaceBook. When you post on Facebook, you give them
“a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license
to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP
License”).” Once your page options are set to “public,” all your posts are
now public property and the property of FaceBook. Here is what
FaceBook says under “Sharing Your Content and Information”:
“When you publish content or information using the Public
setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of
Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e.,
your name and profile picture).”
There technically is no difference between the word,
“permit” and “allow.”
Twitter IP and Copyright
Twitter officially informs its users that all content posted
on their blog can be used by them and sent to all types of agencies and
individuals to use as they wish.
The below excerpt by Consuelo Reinberg on the Twitter
copyright and IP discussion is very useful:
“What launched a thousand blogs about tweeting and
copyright, though, was that ESPN republished his Twitter feed – without his
permission – further ticking him off and spurring him to add his two cents'
worth to the debate. Were his tweets entitled to copyright protection? Can one
copyright a tweet? The legal experts' answer to the first question: not a
chance. And to the second: don't bother.
As new communication technologies emerge, so do new
copyright infringement questions. But copyrighting a tweet would be a
difficult-to-make and hard-to-enforce legal claim – for many reasons. Most
tweets cannot be copyrighted because of size, content and scènes à faire
Read full: http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2009/04/article_0005.html
There is currently no fixed regulation hindering the fair
use utility of publicly shared twitter and FaceBook posts. Most importantly
Twitter and FaceBook should be referenced as the source in addition to the
poster. The poster’s name should also be mentioned as an important courtesy
always. Of course, it is always better to seek permission first. It is
important to be watchful of re-posting copyright infringed posts made on
FaceBook which were made in violation of the rights of the actual website or
person from which they were picked. In such cases, referencing FaceBook will
not help as FaceBook strongly denies liability for posts on its platform made
by all participant third parties.
As mentioned above, tweets are simply too short for you to
be sued over; only when you take a whole bunch of serial, related tweets may
you fall culpable.
More Advice on Copyrights
Twitter as well as Facebook have the “Embed” function which
directly promote the sharing of people’s public posted content. Screengrabs
that maintain the poster’s handle and the names of these websites are similar
to the embedding of the posts and in the case of pictures, especially, may be
the better option. However it must be realized that with screengrabs, if the
original post is deleted (or edited) for some infringement, the copy made will
not automatically seize to show (or be modified) and the publisher of the grab
may now fall liable for maintaining illegitimate or controversial content.
Andrew Beaujon discuses here [Can
a news org publish someone’s Twitter photo?], how screengrabs are preferred
ways to re-publish people’s photos from Social media under the fair use laws.
The BBC Editorial Guidelines and guidance from the Press
Complaints Commission recommend consideration of the user’s privacy settings as
noted from our review of FaceBook’s tos. They argue that it is more “acceptable
to publish pictures if user has them in “public” setting than if privacy
settings limit photos to a closed circle of contacts.” See: Journalism.co.uk
Finally, if looking for pictures to use freely, online, take
advantage of the Google images creative commons search function. You may take
from pictures labeled for reuse or for non commercial use (with or without
modification) etc as applies.
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