Clarifing Image Copyrights on Twitter

Astronomy and Law

Hundreds of pictures are uploaded to social media everyday. However, the law regarding the rights of third parties to use those images is still evolving.

In a copyright infringement decision, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York clarified how Twitter’s terms of service impact a user’s rights to images he or she uploads to the site. The case involved photos taken by photojournalist Daniel Morel in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

The dispute arose when Morel posted the images to his Twitter account via TwitPic, and they were subsequently published by Agence France Presse (AFP), Getty Images Inc. and the Washington Post without his permission. Morel subsequently filed suit for copyright infringement.

In its defense, AFP argued that Twitter’s terms of service made it a third-party beneficiary of the license agreement between Morel and Twitter. The relevant part of the TwitPic’s terms of…

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