Twitter has started to remove tweets at the request of users who believe that the content of their tweets has been stolen.
If someone believes that their work has been stolen they can submit a Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") take down request. The DMCA addresses the removal of copyright material from a website which is being used without permission of the author.
Until recently Twitter had mainly received DMCA take down requests in relation to infringing posts of videos or photographs. However, it has been responding to take down requests relating to tweets, frequently including jokes, which have been taken from users' accounts and re-tweeted without the author's consent.
Freelance writer, Olga Lexell, tweeted the following joke, "Saw someone spill their high end juice cleanse all over the sidewalk and now I know god is on my side". The joke was re-tweeted a number of times without her permission following which Ms Lexell submitted a take down request and the infringing tweets were removed.
When a tweet is removed in following a request the following message appears, "This tweet has been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder". Twitter will attempt to contact the account holder with information concerning the take down notice, and they will be given ten days to appeal.
Under US law a short phrases used in a tweet would not normally be eligible for copyright protection. However, US case law suggests that statements which rely on brevity may be sufficiently original to qualify for protection.
Twitter's take down practice is likely to be welcomed by writers and comedians who make a living from writing jokes. However, in order to protect their work, the burden will be on the authors of the original tweets to police Twitter.Posted by: in: Copyright, Digital/Tech, News