SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Just who owns that photo you’ve posted on Twitter? Well a judge has ruled— you do. The case involved a photojournalist who took photos of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, but then news agencies picked up the copyrighted photos and used them.

Agence France-Presse apparently violated the copyright law, infringing on the photographer after he tweeted his photos and the French paper sent his photos to Getty Images and then The Washington Post in turn ran the photos.

The judge in the case ruled the photos belong to the photographer that tweeted them and not to Twitter. In fact, I checked Twitter’s terms of service and they make it clear that you own your content, but that that it doesn’t belong to anybody else.

The judge did say Twitter users of course have the right to re-tweet, but you don’t have the right to grab it and put it on your blog or newspaper or even a term paper for that matter.

The losing argument by the plaintiff in this case was that the photos were essentially public domain and that somehow because it was on Twitter, that it was out there for grabs. That’s like saying a photo published in the New York Times is public domain because it’s a newspaper and millions of people can look at it. You still aren’t allowed to make a photocopy of that picture and reprint it in another paper without permission.

However, there are fair use issues that get into complicated copyright law for educational purposes, etc. but publishing it in a commercial newspaper clearly has to be against the rules based on my understanding of copyright

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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