Would Twitter Be Liable For Links To Infringing Material?
from the questions,-questions,-questions dept
Anyway, the reason why I'm asking this now is that it appears that Twitter is suddenly getting swamped with DMCA takedown notices lately. I only discovered that after a recent TorrentFreak article about the top DMCA takedown senders as compiled by ChillingEffects.org. What struck me, in Wendy Seltzer's summary, was that she mentioned that the largest sources of DMCA takedowns are "Google, Yahoo, Digg, and most recently, Twitter."
The addition of Twitter struck me as odd. After all, how much copyright infringement can you do in 140 characters. Nearly two years ago, we had discussed the question of whether or not those "tweets" themselves could be copyrighted (which could lead to legal questions when people "retweet" your messages). We had trouble believing that fair use wouldn't apply to messages. Then, this past April, we had an interesting discussion after a guy named JP was upset that Twitter deleted a tweet of his that was merely a link to his own blog post, which discussed a new album that had leaked, and included (in the blog post, not on Twitter) a link to one song that was already widely being linked to on music blogs, including Pitchfork, as well as a link to Amazon where people could buy the album. The copyright holder had issued a DMCA takedown on the Twitter message, which we took to be an abuse of the DMCA process. Nothing in the tweet was infringing. Heck, you could argue that nothing on the blog post was infringing.
However, in looking down the list of DMCA notices to Twitter, the vast majority of them appear to be copyright holders complaining about tweets that link to their material hosted elsewhere. I did see one that involved a background image, which is a bit more understandable as a copyright issue, but I'm a bit troubled by the massive numbers of takedown messages solely on links. Why not just issue the takedowns on whoever is actually hosting the material? Targeting links just seems fraught with potential problems and it's still not at all clear to me that links, themselves, are really infringing.
Of course, it's likely that Twitter is removing the tweets in question in order to protect itself from liability. But I'm wondering if anyone actually thinks Twitter would be liable for copyright infringement if it didn't do that.