Twitter is Deleting Stolen Jokes for Copyright Reasons

27 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Twitter Judges Tweeted Jokes Copyrightable.

Twitter is beset by the all-too-common joke thief. THE Twitter police have drawn a line in the sand: sharing a gag in 140 characters is good but sharing someone else’s 140 character joke stops right now.The Verge quoted her as saying: ‘I simply explained to Twitter that as a freelance writer I make my living writing jokes (and I use some of my tweets to test out jokes in my other writing). ‘I then explained that as such, the jokes are my intellectual property, and that the users in question did not have my permission to repost them without giving me credit.’ The Twitter account Plagiarism Is Bad (@PlagiarismBad) was the first to spot the crackdown on people who don’t retweet a joke with credit but take the easy way out and simple copy and paste a joke as if it is their on.

The Verge reports that at least five separate tweets have been deleted by Twitter for copying a joke posted by Olga Lexel, who goes by the username @runolgarun. If the answer is B) your joke theft might result in your tweet being blocked on copyright grounds — if the original composer of the joke reports your theft as copyright infringement to Twitter. However, if you pilfer a joke on Twitter, and the person who created said joke notices, then they might have a good chance for a successful copyright claim against you. When other accounts tweeted the same joke, Lexell complained to Twitter, which then deleted the copy-tweets and replaced it with the text “This Tweet has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder.”

In its guidelines on how to file complaints, the company states: ”Twitter will respond to reports of alleged copyright infringement, such as allegations concerning the unauthorized use of a copyrighted image as a profile photo, header photo, or background, allegations concerning the unauthorized use of a copyrighted video or image uploaded through our media hosting services, or Tweets containing links to allegedly infringing materials.” U.S. copyright law does not always cover short phrases (that’s more getting into trademark territory), so 140-characters might be a stretch for traditional copyright law purposes. It’s a lot easier to figure out who owns a major motion picture, an app, or a game that might be the subject of a tweet promoting a free (illegal) copy.

Twitter also publishes DMCA requests publicly on the website Chilling Effects, though records of this particular claim do not appear to be on the site yet. She also told the publication she had filed other takedown requests to Twitter before now, noting that spambots were frequently the culprits for this sort of credit-less reposting.

There’s also the unfortunate complication that when these kinds of issues get publicized, it can create a bit of a wildfire that’s more troublesome to deal with than the original joke copiers. In recent times Twitter has taken greater steps to control the types of content that can be broadcast on its platform, doing more to counteract the visibility and spread of abusive sentiments, for example.

As Gizmodo notes, plenty of others are now taking the joke that Lexell originally posted—and others copied—and copying it themselves, as a sort of thumb-your-nose response toward the entire Twitter tweet takedown process. Whereas, in earlier years and pre-IPO, Twitter’s Biz Stone pushed a more ‘hardline pro-free speech’ stance, arguing the tweets must flow — and saying the company would “strive not to remove Tweets on the basis of their content”. Blocking a tweet on IP grounds may be less controversial than removing someone’s (hateful) opinion, but both show how Twitter’s platform has shifted its stance on the flow of tweets as it seeks to scale up and attract a more mainstream user-base.

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