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Twitter announced this week that it has clarified its Terms of Service regarding what users can expect from the microblogging service. Of importance to legal tech enthusiasts, is the delineation of ownership of the tweets--or 140-character posts--that users posts. It's confirmed, they belong to the author.
Could this enable users to copyright their tweets?
It is a possibility; however, at just 140 characters, it will remain to be seen whether there is enough content to establish a protectable copyright claim. However, considering that poetry such as haikus could fit in a tweet and that users are becoming more accustomed and creative with expressing themselves within the constraints of a microblog, the relationship between copyright and Twitter is at best grey.
Remember the day when writers were paid per word? And now there's a premium for wit in brevity.
Though you officially own your tweets, Twitter still has pretty much the same set of rights as you do to using them according to its latest Terms of Service iteration.
Twitter also noted that it is "leaving the door open" to exploring using Twitter for advertising. Specifically the Terms of Service state, "In consideration for Twitter granting you access to and use of the Services, you agree that Twitter and its third party providers and partners may place such advertising on the Services or in connection with the display of Content or information from the Services whether submitted by you or others."
So users get a little--their tweets--and Twitter gets a little--unfettered ability to advertise. Sound about right?
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