Who 'Owns' A Twitter Account: Employer Or Employee?

from the there's-going-to-be-a-legal-fight dept

Venkat Balasubramani, inspired by Marshall Kirkpatrick, recently explored the legal issue over who "owns" your Twitter account: you or your employer. Most people signed up for their own Twitter account, but many have used them in connection to their jobs, and the issue that kicked off Venkat's discussion was the recent firing of CNN's Rick Sanchez, who had a large Twitter following, which he regularly tapped into as a part of his job at CNN. The summary: um... it's not clear. If CNN wanted to, it could try to claim some right to the account, suggesting the followers were in large part due to CNN -- but that seems like a stretch. To date, most companies have pretty much assumed that the individual "owns" the account. I can't recall any examples of someone being forced to hand over their "personal" Twitter account upon leaving a job. However, the fact that it's such a gray area suggest that we'll eventually see a lawsuit over this in some form or another. It seems likely that things like this are going to start appearing in employment contracts as well (who owns what...), but for now it's simply an interesting legal hypothetical...

Filed Under: accounts, ownership


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  1. icon
    Thanatossassin (profile), 26 Oct 2010 @ 11:26pm

    A familiar situation

    A few years back, the Los Angeles Kings had a trainer who gave a "behind-the-scenes" look on his twitter account, which was named 'LAKingsTrainer'. He ended up getting a little too behind the scenes and started posting some unwarranted beef he had with the team reporter/correspondant. He was axed for the unprofessionalism.

    In this situation, he was using the Kings name, and therefore the Kings could have claimed unauthorized usage of their trademark. There wasn't any holding out and he deleted the account without protest.

    CNN can claim that account violates trademark, BUT, he should be able to retain the account and just remove CNN from his username (which is very possible, Display & Account names can be modified). No problem with losing any followers, at least not due to the name change.

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