Federal Judge Rules Embedded Tweets May Infringe Copyright
If you thought the U.S. legal concept of copyright had caught up with the Internet, you’d be wrong. District Court Judge Katherine B. Forrest has ruled that you could infringe copyright by embedding someone else’s tweet on a Web page. The case in question involves a photo of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady that the photographer, Justin Goldman, posted to a Snapchat Story. Others then tweeted the photograph, and those tweets were embedded by various publications, which Goldman is suing. The problem is that in-line linking is one of the core capabilities of the Internet, and if the logic surrounding this ruling were extended more broadly, it would have a chilling effect on common Internet behavior. (Too bad no one listened to Ted Nelson in the pre-Web days, since his Xanadu hypertext system understood the importance of maintaining — and paying for, with micropayments — ownership of embedded content.)
Hyperlinking on html web pages is one thing. Allowing a company like Twitter to become rich and invasive by leaching off of other people's IP is another. I don't have an issue with this ruling. In fact, I hope Facebook is next.
Twitter isn't among the defendants — they're all news organizations reporting on the event.
Of course. But what's really under attack is Twitter's parasitic business model and I'm all for that.