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Judge rules news outlets improperly used pictures tweeted over Twitter

Judge rules public Twitter pictures cannot be used commercially without obtaining permission first

Trace Hagan | Jan 15, 2013 at 08:04 pm CST (0 mins, 55 secs reading time)

Agence France-Presse and The Washington Post are in a bit of hot water after using pictures that were tweeted by a photo journalist. The story goes something like this: after the Haiti earthquake back in January 2010, AFP and The Washington Post used pictures tweeted by photojournalist Daniel Morel. Morel accused AFP of copyright infringement, so AFP sued Morel to get him to stop.

Judge rules news outlets improperly used pictures tweeted over Twitter |

Morel countersued and the court battle has ended in a ruling saying that AFP and The Washington Post improperly used the photos. AFP argued that because the pictures were provided publicly, Twitter's terms of service allowed those pictures to be used. While Twitter's terms do allow some use of the pictures, such as retweeting them, Twitter maintains that users own their content.

"As has always been our policy, Twitter users own their photos," a Twitter spokesman said. There are still more issues to be settled in a trial, though the judge has limited damages that could potentially be recovered by Morel. The main takeaway is that you should not use Twitter pictures commercially without first obtaining permission to do so.

Last updated: Nov 30, -0001 at 12:00 am CST

Trace Hagan


Trace is a starving college student studying Computer Science. He has a love of the English language and an addiction for new technology and speculation. When he's not writing, studying, or going to class, he can be found on the soccer pitch, both playing and coaching, or on the mountain snowboarding.

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