Lawsuits Over Who Owns Tweets?

from the omgstop dept

It had to happen eventually. Apparently, there's a lawsuit going on over the "ownership" of a Twitter account that goes by the name OMGFacts, which (as you might have guessed, posts a bunch of random facts). It has nearly two million followers. Not bad. But there's now a federal lawsuit over who actually owns the feed. Apparently, there were two people who ran the account -- a 17-year-old student who started it and his 24-year-old "business partner" whose job it was to help develop the feed and get it more attention. The argument covers a bunch of ground on both intellectual property issues and contract issues. Basically, it seems like a business dispute where the end result is that perhaps neither party comes out of it happy. The Twitter angle just makes it that much more twisted. As Eric Goldman notes in a quote in the article:
"We've had 600 years to develop the rules on books," Goldman said. "We've had less than five years to develop how those rules apply to tweets."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 2:00am

    Easy: terminate the account and create a "OMGFacts1" and an "OMGFacts2" (or something like it) that both contain the content from the original "OMGFacts". Give one account to each of the whiners.

    Problem solved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 2:35am

    Re:

    Yeah. Give them the full "Solomon." Added bonus: it usually leaves both greedy parties unsatisfied.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 2:56am

    Twitter owns the tweets... Just read the TOS

    By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    NullOp, May 19th, 2011 @ 4:53am

    Ownership

    I think there's something to be said for who can flick a switch and stop the "tweeting".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Berenerd (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 5:28am

    Per Contract law....

    If its here in the US I do believe that no contract can be entered by a child unless the legal guardians sign it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Berenerd (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 5:28am

    Re: Per Contract law....

    please correct me if I am wrong...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 5:41am

    Re: Re: Per Contract law....

    I think the exception may be just that you can divorce your parents.

    If your parents are keeping you from running a business IMO that's just cause for me... though in this case I might fight it as a parent for the sure stupidity of the claim.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 6:08am

    Re:

    The phrase "worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license" indicates Twitter does not in fact own the tweets, but only uses them under licence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 6:38am

    Re: Re: Per Contract law....

    I have heard something like this, however there can be a catch. If a minor does enter into a contract and upholds their side, the other party cannot void the contract because it is with a minor.

    I may be wrong too, but contracts with minors are somewhat "one-way" enforceable. If the minor doesn't uphold their side, it's your fault for making a contract with a minor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 6:58am

    OMGFacts

    They tweet (imagine huge air quotes here) "facts".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    chuck, May 19th, 2011 @ 7:06am

    All of your Tweets are belong to us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Jes Lookin, May 19th, 2011 @ 7:43am

    It's called Broadcast

    The concept of Broadcast seems to be a common brain-lock in 'IP' thinking. Common sense says that if you put something out on a Comms media that anybody can receive - it's 'out there' for whatever 'fair use'. In pre-corporatocrasy days, that meant whatever non-money-making thing the receivers wanted to do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 8:22am

    "We've had 600 years to develop the rules on books," Goldman said. "

    and those rules turned out to be a complete failure. ie: look at 95+ year copy protection lengths.

    "We've had less than five years to develop how those rules apply to tweets."

    I hope the rules on tweets don't turn out to be nearly as much of a failure as the rules on books, but I won't hold my breath.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Dan J., May 19th, 2011 @ 8:42am

    Re: Re:

    Additionally, this lawsuit isn't over who own's the tweets. It's over who owns the account. Not the same thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

    "Your Rights
    You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)."

    The twitter TOS.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Ade Oduyemi, May 20th, 2011 @ 1:21am

    Re:

    There is something rather unsatisfying about this Solomonesque solution - pity is I can't quite put my finger on it. One thing I know though, once the lawyers get involved, everyone has lost.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Cory Vanderyacht, May 20th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re:

    Well...everyone except the lawyers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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