4 Comments

  1. That's the problem with the Internet: it's too easy to copy and redistribute content. Twitter is doing its best to make things 'user-friendly.' But it can't solve the problem that you describe. No one can. What are you trying to suggest? That Twitter should say something more to the users to warn them of this (seemingly obvious) danger? That user should be aware themselves of this danger? I'm not sure what your point is exactly.

  2. Ernie:

    Well that's just great. You confirmed what I feared all along, namely, that I don't actually have a point!

    All seriousness aside, it at least raises an issue that the developers should consider when building their service and drafting their ToS. Sounds to me like they shouldn't rely on Twitter to get clearance to use the content and sublicense it to them, but should make sure they get a separate license directly from the Twitter user. One that grants permission not contingent on the license to Twitter.

  3. Evan, what you are saying is very interesting to me, because on my blog last night, I posted a piece which essentially surmises that the license grant a user gives to Twitter is in essence not something you can take back, not as to stuff you've posted prior to taking your account down (ie, everything!). But you're saying the case law says the license is revocable if an express term is not stated? I don't want to put words in your mouth or mis-understand your point.

  4. Evan – Nice post. Bill Carleton and I have been discussing the new terms on his blog, so this is timely for us.

    I think that the failure to state a perpetual term is a mistake on Twitter's part. Having drafted similar TOS for other companies that rely on user generated content, I think anything else is impracticable – this isn't a land-grab on the site's part so much as a reflection of how these kinds of sites function.

    For example, if I retweet one of your posts on my stream, and Twitter displays it, how could Twitter track my re-post and stop displaying it when you terminate your account? Your reference to third parties raises similar issues.

    Further, if Twitter does syndicate content to other publishers, it's impractical for it to be able to have the publishers pull the content when the user terminates their Twitter account. It would be impossible to scale the necessary processes and, in any event, who'd want to buy content under those conditions?

    I think the fix for these issues is for the site provider to give users the opportunity to determine how broadly they are willing to have their content published, by attributing a hierarchy level to the content. See, e.g., flickr's copyright license and content privacy structure. With Twitter, this could be as simple as saying that, if your stream is limited to your permitted followers, then your content won't be displayed publicly, period, and that if your stream is not limited to your own followers, it's subject to a perpetual royalty-free license, with right to sub-license.

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