If You're Angry About Twitter Banning Someone 'Permanently' For Sharing Olympics GIFs, Blame Copyright Law
from the bad-law-creates-bad-ideas dept
Over on LinkedIn a guy named Jim Weber wrote about how he was banned permanently from Twitter because he shared a few GIFs from the Olympics.
It all started when I saw a GIF of her sublime first pass on the floor routine two weeks ago on the front page of Reddit. Wanting to share what an awesome moment this was, I downloaded the GIF and uploaded it to Twitter with these four words: “Aly Raisman: She’s good.”
[To be fully transparent, I also tweeted GIFs of this awesome Japanese wrestler celebrating with her coach and this incredible Perfect 10 by a Chinese diver during the games.]
I had read that the IOC was banning the press from using GIFs but I didn’t see how that applied to me. Sure, I didn’t have the rights to any footage at the Olympics ? just like countless blogs and users don’t have rights to the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA footage that they create GIFs out of and profit from every day.
Weber notes that he figured the worst that would happen is that those tweets would get taken down. Instead, his account was banned. Permanently (though, as it turned out later, not really).
The story has gone pretty viral (on Twitter, naturally), with lots of people expressing anger at Twitter. It also appears that soon after the story started spreading, Twitter actually changed its mind and put back his account.
Here’s the thing, though: if you want to get upset about this, don’t get upset at Twitter. Get furious at parts of the DMCA and how some courts have interpreted it lately (and the International Olympic Committee — it almost always deserves the anger that is pointed in its direction for its extreme protectionist/copyright policies). But remember, not too long ago, the ISP Cox lost big time in an important DMCA case, at the key issue that swayed the judge was the lack of a competent “repeat infringer policy.” And what was one of the key things in that case? The fact that Cox didn’t permanently ban people.
So if you’re the legal team at Twitter, and you’re keeping up on the caselaw, you better believe that you’re going to make sure that you have a serious “repeat infringer policy” that kicks people off permanently for sharing a few pieces of copyright-covered material. Because even as basically everyone is saying “what? you shouldn’t lose your account permanently for sharing a few happy gifs from the Olympics,” in court it would be spun as “Twitter has a history of failing to reasonably implement a repeat infringer policy, as required by the DMCA in Section 512(i)(1)(A).” And if the Olympics or whoever gets a judge like the one in the Cox case, who doesn’t seem to care much about whether people use the internet or not, Twitter might just lose.
Yes, Twitter probably could have handled this a lot better, but if you want to get angry, get angry that copyright law is so fucked up these days.
Oh, also, this is a decent reminder to be at least somewhat careful about relying too much on anyone’s platform. Weber claims to recognize that…
Not only do I not plan to start a new Twitter account, I’m hesitant to post anything to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat with the knowledge that they can and will permanently shut down your account with the snap of their fingers.
… except his post about all of this is published on LinkedIn, which is really no different than any of the other social media platforms he listed above. So there’s a bit of irony in declaring that he’s hesitant to post on social media platforms… on a social media platform.