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in Filmmaking
on Mar 29, 2009

Mark Cuban asks on his blog the question, “Are Tweets Copyrighted?” Wondering whether republishing a tweet violates copyright law, Cuban puts a legal spin on something that I wondered when I joined the service recently. In fact, the first day I was on I tweeted (?) the following: “Wondering: is Twitter quotable outside the Twitterverse? Or is that bad nettiquette?” The response I got was that tweets are public speech and yes, people can quote them. Funnily, this made sense to me even though I do think copyright law generally prevents people from quoting in full. In other words, I viewed Twitter’s 140 characters as more a public utterance than a piece of writing which is, after all, contradictory because tweets are text.

In Cuban’s post, he writes:

I got to thinking about this when I tweeted about an NBA game. I tweeted to the people who follow me. While I never asked that they not distribute it to other tweeters, i did not give anyone permission to republish my tweets in a commercial newspaper, magazine or website.

So when an or any other outlet republishes a tweet, have they violated copyright law ?

Is twittering the process of publishing in 140 characters or less, or is it a private communications to those that follow you ? Even if you dont block outsiders from seeing it ?

So far, the comments that have appeared on his blog seem to take the “copyrighted speech” position. I’d be curious to hear what everyone here thinks. Oh yeah, and for Cuban, this isn’t just a theoretical discussion.

As Sports Illustrated explains:

The NBA slapped Mavericks owner Mark Cuban with a $25,000 fine Sunday for publicly criticizing the officials after Denver’s 103-101 win over Dallas.

Cuban used Twitter to complain after Friday’s game that Denver’s J.R. Smith was not called for coming off the bench to taunt Antoine Wright after he missed a shot near the Nuggets bench.

Cuban said in another posting Sunday that he “can’t say no one makes money from twitter now. the nba does.”

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