Author: Molly Osadjan
Last fall, I tweeted about a local natural disaster. A while later, I found my tweet had made it to the pages of a local media outlet's website. This occurrence made me think: is this action legal? Appropriate? Or even ethical in social media etiquette standards? What are the standards?
Since I had so many unanswered questions, I started to do some research on the topic. Instead of finding answers, I became more and more confused about the rules surrounding the media's use of Twitter users' tweets beyond the profiles of Twitter.
I did find some blog posts on this and similar subjects, including Blog of Mr. Tweet, but the posts I found didn't really answer my questions. Are there any rules? Are Twitter users' protected? Is what you tweet "copyrighted" in some sense, and who owns what content?
A few of my coworkers and I attended a social media and law session (#legalsm) at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce in December. The panel included two local attorneys, one from Minor & Brown and one from Townsend and Townsend and Crew, who spoke about social media and copyright issues, in terms of photo usage and employer/employee conduct. Even though the session was very interesting, neither of the attorneys discussed whether or not you can copyright a tweet or if someone else has permission to post your tweets beyond the profiles of Twitter.
After all of this research, I still don't have a clear answer and I am back to my original question: Does anyone know if the media can legally publish your tweets beyond the profiles of Twitter?