AFP Still Not Giving Up On Its Bizarre Claim That Twitpic Images Are Freely Licensed To Anyone
from the common-sense-ruling dept
Earlier this year, we wrote about an absolutely bizarre lawsuit, where the newswire AFP — a company who has claimed that merely linking to its stories is infringement — had sued a photographer whose photograph AFP had used without permission (and with a false credit). The story was so convoluted and filled with confusion that it was really quite amazing that anyone involved is still pushing forward with the case. The “short” version is that a photographer in Haiti when the earthquake happened earlier this year opened a Twitter and a Twitpic account soon after the earthquake, in order to show off some of the photographs he had taken. Another person copied those photos and pretended they were his (also on Twitpic) and offered to license them. The AFP saw the photos from the second person (who didn’t actually have the rights to them) and then posted them on its own stories, crediting the second guy.
Soon after this, the actual photographer saw the photos and sent a cease & desist. The AFP then sued the actual photographer, claiming that it had not violated his copyrights. The AFP’s argument for this was so confused that it raised questions about whether or not the AFP even really understood what the company had done. First, it claimed that Twitter’s terms of service says the following:
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).
I had kind of figured that after this rather massive set of mistakes was highlighted, AFP would realize its errors and back off from the lawsuit. No such luck apparently. Venkat Balasubramani has an update on the case, suggesting that the AFP is sticking by its totally illogical claims. What brought this on is that Twitter has apparently clarified its terms of service, to avoid this sort of situation (even though the original terms seemed pretty clear), but the AFP is still insisting that its tortured interpretation of the terms supports its position. It’s somewhat bizarre to see that no one involved in the lawsuit has realized just how insanely weak this position is. It seems like a huge waste of effort for an interpretation of terms of service that, if actually believed, would likely come back to haunt AFP.