Earlier this year photographer Daniel Morel was shocked when a photograph he captured during the devastating earthquake in Haiti and posted to TwitPic was distributed by Agency France Presse (AFP) and published on the front page of newspapers around the world — all without his permission.
To add insult to injury, he was then sued by AFP when he sent cease and desist letters in response to the copyright infringement. The dispute has turned into a legal battle over whether images uploaded to TwitPic and shared on Twitter can be freely republished by third parties. In what might be an indication of things to come, a federal court has denied AFP’s pre-trial request to have the case thrown out.
AFP’s lawyers had argued that the re-use was acceptable according to the TOS of the services, writing,
This broad re-use is evidenced every day when Twitter/TwitPic posts are copied, reprinted, quoted, and republished by third parties,
However, U.S. District Court Judge William Pauley disagreed with this, writing in his opinion that,
the provision that Twitter ‘encourage[s] and permit[s] broad re-use of Content’ does not clearly confer a right on other users to re-use copyrighted postings.
You can read more about this latest development in this article by PDN. It’ll be interesting to see how this very important case plays out. Stay tuned.