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.

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Companies: twitter

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Comments on “If You're Angry About Twitter Banning Someone 'Permanently' For Sharing Olympics GIFs, Blame Copyright Law”

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Violynne (profile) says:

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…
Not only No, but FUCK NO.

I am going to get mad at Twitter, and every other company which refuses to stand up against these idiotic copyright laws as they have the means to do so.

Remember how SOPA was defeated? Facebook and Google took their sites down, just to name a couple.

If they had not, the DMCA would have been the least of our worries.

The reality is copyright law isn’t going to change. The MPAA has done well to infect the brains of the young with bullshit (go read up on mod authors and how they feel about “stealing”).

The industry won.

We lost.

The ONLY way copyright law now gets fixed is if companies like Twitter, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others stand up against the law.

Since their revenue is solely reliant on the insatiable appetite of its users to know how big a Kardashian’s ass has gotten today, it’s pretty obvious copyright law isn’t going anywhere.

PS: thanks to the fucking idiots who paid money to see the latest Star Wars and Marvel movies, in less than 5 years, we’re going to see how those billions are spent when copyright law comes up for renewed extensions.

We’re going to lose. Again.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

PS: thanks to the fucking idiots who paid money to see
> the latest Star Wars and Marvel movies, in less than 5
> years, we’re going to see how those billions are spent
> when copyright law comes up for renewed extensions.

Huh? I shouldn’t go to movies I enjoy because you’re worried copyright law will get renewed in a decade or so?

Get bent.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s not just our draconian system of copyright law that should concern people, but the fact that the universe of online discussion has become increasingly concentrated into just a handfull of entities — private for-profit corporations that don’t “stand for” anything but continued profits.

As with the migration from Usenet to private mega-platforms for online discussion, the same thing has happened with internet providers — long gone are the days when a person could choose between literally hundreds of different (dial-up) ISPs — and now a few false accusations can get someone removed from the internet entirely.

If there is one thing in the world that we must always be vigilant about, and prepared to fight wherever and whenever we see it, it’s the centralization of power into the hands of the few.

John David Galt (profile) says:

Re: Centralization of Power

That’s where I’m coming from, too. And the centralized power I worry about in this context is the 8 (or so) communications-industry multinationals who control most of the free world’s radio, TV (both free and paid), movies and music, phone service, Internet, and even (what’s left of) book and newspaper publishing. These are names like AT&T, Comcast/NBC Universal/Univision, CBS/Columbia, Disney/ABC, Verizon/AOL, Google Fiber, and Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile.

You can expect all these industries to get more and more regulated because those companies have already captured the regulators and can use it to keep new competition out. Indeed, we may soon need some alternative, such as a resurrected FidoNet, to continue exchanging traffic once the giants decide that you and I should no longer be allowed to compete with them as content providers.

DB (profile) says:

The Olympics are the ultimate commercialized sport

How is the Olympics anything besides a totally commercialized event? They have unique trademark exceptions, along with global copyrights. The worst abuses and claims of MLB and the NFL pale in comparison.

The competitors are unpaid, yet are required to wear advertising. And only that advertising. They aren’t allowed to wear anything from their sponsors, or even allow their sponsors to talk about their Olympic performance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The Olympics are the ultimate commercialized sport

  1. oops, olympics aint been amateur-based for some time…
    (dont get me wrong, there are PLENTY of real amateurs in minor sports and small countries, but a lot get paid at least a stipend, and -for example- US medal winners get about $25k for gold, etc…)
    of course, regular pros been playing for quite some time, too…
    2. you can wear all the adverts youlike, AS LONG AS they are the ‘official’ sponsors, then THEIR ads dont corrupt anyone… sillyhead, you cant tell the difference between wonderful official ads and yucky unofficial ads ???
    (hint: the official ads are tainted green)
ECA (profile) says:


When do Olympians SIGN AWAY personal rights to the OLYMPIC COMMITTEE??

PLEASE tell me this..
Do they sign it away upon entering the Olympics? or when they enter the Pre- competitions..

Then the thought that this is a PUBLIC SPECTICAL…means that Everything is PUBLIC…the Olympic committee DID NOT BUILD the coliseum or ANY of the facilities.. AT THE VERY MOST, Brazil should OWN the rights of anything happening in There facilities..

anon2 (profile) says:


The copyright act is very specific (“(1) it is prepared by an employee within the scope of his employment; or (2) it is specially ordered or commissioned from an independent contractor pursuant to a written agreement…”) about copyright ownership in this context, and frankly the IOC has NOT satisfied the legal requirements.

They should be sued for extortion in this case.

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