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.
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.
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